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Out of the Rough: Tiger benching shouldn't be big deal

9:22 AM, Sep 29, 2012   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Eventually, Tiger Woods was going to sit out a session at the Ryder Cup.

Before the matches teed off at Medinah, we may not have thought it would be this week, but it happened.

American captain Davis Love III displayed the unmitigated temerity to bench the best player of this era for Saturday's foursomes matches.

"The conversation with Tiger went well," Love told Jimmy Roberts of NBC Saturday morning. "I told him, 'Someone has to be the first person to sit you.' He'll be ready this afternoon."

Love said on Friday night that Tiger was fine with the decision.

"Tiger again has told me, he'll do whatever I want him to do," Love said.

Woods has become a leader and a team guy. He probably nodded and said, "whatever you want DL3," but there's a part of him that had to be a little embarrassed.

The fact is, that if Tiger Woods was any other player on the planet, he'd have been benched without a single iota of question.

He and Steve Stricker went 0-2 on Friday. Nicolas Colsaerts, a rookie and a captain's pick, beat Woods and Stricker, the best American team before the matches started, BY HIMSELF!

Woods and Stricker joined Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker as the only Americans who failed to register a point on Friday. At least Furyk and Snedeker played in only one match.

Woods was beyond erratic in Friday's foursomes. He sprayed it all over Chicago and in fact, knocked a patron out cold with an errant drive.

He got his mojo back in the afternoon, though. Woods was unofficially 7-under par in the four-balls, which was better than almost anyone on the course. Sadly, the only guy who was better was wearing a different colored sweater than him in the same match.

It's easy to look at 0-2 and say, Tiger needs to sit. However, 7-under is 7- under and Woods definitely carried Stricker in the afternoon. Woods didn't carry Stricker the way Colsaerts carried Lee Westwood, who was more useless than a third armpit, but Woods was the alpha dog Friday afternoon.

But benching Woods isn't like telling Webb Simpson or Snedeker to sit.

Aside from the fact that he's the No. 2 ranked player in the world, Woods is the most dangerous player on the American team. And don't dismiss the fact that Love has always been a little in awe of Woods.

So many might perceive Love's decision as gutsy, but it's not. It's practical.

Woods and Stricker went 0-2. It's not like years past when the U.S. would be in a hole and need Woods to play all five sessions. The Americans were ahead 5-3 when Love sat Woods.

Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner won their foursomes match Friday morning and didn't even crack the afternoon lineup.

Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson steadily trounced Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer Friday afternoon and didn't even crack Saturday morning's lineup.

The pairings of Bubba Watson and Simpson and Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley have whipped the Medinah galleries into a frenzy. It's been like Beatlemania in golf shirts.

How could Love possibly justify playing a team that is 0-2 over winning, enthusiastic teams?

Love also stated that he didn't want anyone playing all five sessions.

"We just felt like we didn't want anybody to have to play five matches on this golf course," said Love. "It's a big, long golf course. It's tough."

That may be true, but the only two who could possibly play all five sessions would be Bradley and Mickelson. They beat Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald Friday morning, then dusted Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell in the afternoon.

At present time, that American duo is 4-up against Donald and Lee Westwood. Let me see Love have the huevos to sit Phil and Keegan if they go 3-0 and have the Chicago crowds at the fingertips of their ever-pumping fists.

It's time to stop acting like Woods is the same player he was years ago. No one on the American team has surpassed him in talent or achievement, but Woods had one bad day in a 3-day tournament.

Love can't afford to keep running him out there if he doesn't win.

Points are too important.

The Sports Network

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