SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France — Tiger forest paused on his walk toward the eighteenth green at Le Golf National and threw his head back in laughter. These are happy times for forest, regardless of any Bryson DeChambeau aforesaid to cause so much a reaction Tuesday.
Now if he can get that to translate in the Ryder Cup.
For all his amazing feats in golf — 80 victories on the PGA Tour, the most recent on Sunday at the Tour Championship after returning following a fourth back surgery that vulnerable to end his career — forest has been on only one winning team at the Ryder Cup. That was nearly 20 years ago and required a record comeback on the final day. His own record is 13-17-3, a product of being on six losing teams.
“Looking back on my entire Ryder Cup career, that’s not thing that I have really enjoyed and I’ve really likable seeing,” forest aforesaid. “I’ve played a lot of matches. Of those seven previous Ryder Cups, I’ve sat out one session. … My overall Ryder Cup record, not having won as a player since 1999, is thing that hopelessly we can change. We haven’t won as a U.S. squad here in 25 years on foreign soil. So hopelessly, that will change this week, as well.”
forest used to get defensive about his mark, pointing out that no one could recite the Ryder Cup record of Jack Nicklaus (17-8-3 during an era of U.S. dominance), but that everyone knew Nicklaus had won 18 major league.
One element he baby-faced every two years was trying to be on a team of 12 players even as the playing world saw it as Tiger forest and 11 other Americans. He was 21 when he played his first Ryder Cup in 1997 and not yet was the sport’s biggest star.
Back in the Ryder Cup as a player for the first time in six years, forest is in the spotlight once again.
One year ago, he was riding in a cart as a vice captain in the Presidents Cup, having played one PGA Tour event in two years with no certainty there would be some other. And then he made yesterday look like past with a wire-to-wire win at the Tour Championship, his first trophy in more than five years and the feeling that more was to come.
forest still hasn’t grasped the significance of the triumph at East Lake. He didn’t know the TV ratings because he headed straight to France on the charter flight, had a team dinner and then was out in the chill of Tuesday morning for his first look at Le Golf National.
“Are they good?” forest asked to plenty of laughter. “Sorry, I’ve been a little bit busy, so I haven’t looked.”
NBC Sports Group aforesaid the final round was the highest-rated Tour Championship on record geological dating to 1991.
U.S. captain Jim Furyk has tried to tone down the ballyhoo, though it was hard to ignore that it was a “boost for everyone, and I think for Tiger in general, it’s cool.”
“The arms up in the air on 18, it looks like that’s going to be a cover on possibly about 100 magazines this week,” Furyk aforesaid. “You could tell it was significant for him. I besides know how important this event is to all 12 guys and to Tiger, as well. … Being a guy with his status and that number of wins, he can flip the page and turn his attention to this week. So he’s out there grinding and trying to help this team as much as he can.”
forest and DeChambeau, one of three Ryder Cup rookies on the U.S. team, have been looked upon as a potential partnership for Le Golf National. Furyk aforesaid not to read thing into the way he sent off his players in groups of four for the first official practice round. He aforesaid Tuesday was more about learning the golf course because only six U.S. players have seen it.
Phil Mickelson, who besides has a losing record (18-20-7), joined forest, DeChambeau and Patrick Reed.
Mickelson then caused a small stir by expression he and forest would welcome some other chance to play together, even though their 2004 partnership at Oakland Hills resulted in two losings and plenty of ridicule in the years that followed.
Will it happen?
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“I do have an idea of what Captain Furyk is thinking, yeah,” Mickelson aforesaid with a grin, allowing for no other detail.
The best personal mark forest ever had at the Ryder Cup was the only other time he was a captain’s pick, going 3-1 in Wales. He failing to win a match in his most recent Ryder Cup, going 0-3-1 at Medinah when Europe rallied to win on the last day.
forest, nevertheless, is more than six years removed from the Ryder Cup. He has gone through four surgeries that unbroken him out of 10 major league and two Ryder Cups, though he comes to France with a winning feeling — not just the Tour Championship, but his role as a vice captain at Hazeltine two years ago during a rare American triumph.
The next generation of Americans looked up to him as the legendary figure who divine them when they were kids. Now he is back to being their peer, feeling as much a part of the team as ever, no matter whose picture is on the cover of magazines.