Derek Lawrenson: Could crazy schedule leave next year's Ryder Cup without Tiger?

By Derek Lawrenson for the Daily Mail

Will next year's Ryder Cup be the one where Tiger Woods says no to playing, and not because of injury?

Will Phil Mickelson decide he doesn't want to spend the first week in October in wet and windy Wales?

The thought occurred after watching the two gladiators take all the spoils in a wonderful finish to the US Tour season in Atlanta on Sunday.

Tiger Woods

Difficult choice: World No 1 Tiger Woods

Mickelson won the final event, the Tour Championship, while Woods took the extraordinary £6.3million bonus for his consistency over the four event FedEx Cup play-off series.

How perfect a scenario is that? What is less than perfect is that next year, as things stand, these two will then be asked the next morning to fly the Atlantic to play in a Ryder Cup.

So, Tiger and Phil, we want you to play six 72-hole tournaments in eight weeks and then play five times in three trying days at Celtic Manor. How do you feel about that?

Six tournaments in such a short space of time are a hard grind for any pro, but 10 times more so for Woods and Mickelson, because there are that many more demands placed on their shoulders.

Asking them to play a Ryder Cup on top of that is simply asking for trouble. Something's got to give.

This is how the proposed US Tour schedule lines up: the Bridgestone Invitational and the US PGA Championship back to back, week off, followed by three FedEx Cup events, week off, and then the Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup.

Couldn't Tiger and Phil skip one or two of the play-off events? Perhaps. But how do you think FedEx are going to feel about pumping in £38m a year when they haven't got the undivided attention of the two star names?

On the one hand, US Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has to keep his main sponsor sweet and, on the other, he has nothing to gain financially from the Ryder Cup. Which way is he going to lean?

'There are a million reasons why I'd rather win this event,' said Woods in 2002, of an American Express event with a $1m first prize, held on the eve of the Ryder Cup. Next year, he'll have nine million more reasons (from the FedEx bonus) for staying at home.


Ian Poulter

Who has six times more ‘followers’ than any other European sportsman, is more popular, in fact, than arch-publicists like Jonathan Ross and Jordan?

David Beckham? Not even in the same league. Andy Murray? A very poor second.

Step forward Ian Poulter, whose Twitter account has now grown to the extent that 650,000 people, would you believe, are hanging on his every detail.

To think, I chided him gently once about his spelling. Who’s the smart one now?


Westwood, Poulter, Casey, Rose, Donald, Wood, Wilson, Davis, Dougherty, Wall, Dyson and Rock.

Yes, as last week’s Vivendi Trophy in Paris illustrated, England could field a very handy Ryder Cup team all by itself.

Which makes for a decidedly vivid contrast with the Solheim Cup, where the only English representative in the last match in August was 45-year-old Laura Davies.

But were those green shoots sprouting at the Tenerife Masters last week?

Not only was the winner, Felicity Johnson, from England, but so was fourth-placed Melissa Reid. What is more, both are in their third seasons on tour and both are just 22.

Felicity Johnson

Winner: Felicity Johnson claimed victory at the Tenerife Masters

Johnson, from Birmingham, was up against the far more experienced Welsh lass Becky Brewerton but made up three strokes with a final-round 67, including birdies on her final two holes.

There might be some hope yet.


Colin Montgomerie

Captain: Colin Montgomerie

Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie is so determined to turn up in Wales next year not looking like a whale that he has ordered official clothes several sizes smaller than his current frame.

So, while all those trying to make his team attempt to gain as many pounds as they can - £1.5million or so, should do it - he has embarked on trying to lose two pounds a month for the rest of the qualifying period.

‘I want to look good in the official photographs,’ he explained.

Is he trying to win a slimmers’ order of merit to place alongside all those others he’s won?


Quote of the week:

‘Golf is a major rollercoaster ride. You can pay all your bills in one week or run up an amazing amount of bills after missing four cuts in a row. We never thought he was so far away that the dream was unreal, and so as a family we kept going.’

Lori Quinn, wife of journeyman American Fran Quinn. How easy it is to forget that, beneath the glamour circuits, there are thousands of pros living in the real world. At least, Quinn won’t be worrying about the bills for a while. After 18 years on the undercard, he’s justified his wife’s faith by earning a ticket back to the US Tour next year aged 44.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now