“You mean, he’s not playing?”
That was Rory McIlroy's reaction Thursday when he was told Tiger Woods, along with Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker, had agreed to become an assistant captain for Davis Love III's 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup team.
The news was a surprise -- first, because it was announced 10 months ahead of the biennial matches in Minnesota and, second, because Woods' return to golf after a pair of back surgeries in the last two months. It led to a lot out-loud wondering if Woods already knew he wouldn't be able to come back in 2016 until it was way too late to mount a charge to make the team on points. McIlroy voiced a similar concern on Thursday when he was apprised of Woods' appointment after the first round of the European Tour's season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
"It's great that he wants to help the U.S. team in any way that he can, and if that's not in a playing capacity, then as a vice-captain. Just sort of makes me think what really his health￼ is like and how he feels like he's going to come back from that," McIlroy said.
"I'd rather see him on the course at Hazeltine but if not, at least he'll be there and it will be a good addition for them."
However, McIlroy thought the idea was brilliant. He called Love's move "one of the smarter ones" he could or has made.