Spi­eth: Tiger brings ‘in­tim­i­da­tion fac­tor’ as Ry­der Cup vice-cap­tain

The Herald - Sport - - ATHLETICS - BERNIE MCGUIRE

WORLD No.1 Jor­dan Spi­eth be­lieves the ap­point­ment of Tiger Woods as a vice-cap­tain will be a huge ‘in­tim­i­da­tion’ ad­van­tage for the USA Ry­der Cup team.

The dou­ble-ma­jor-win­ning Spi­eth also expects Woods to qual­ify au­to­mat­i­cally for Hazel­tine de­spite the un­cer­tainty of Woods’ re­turn to nor­mal com­pe­ti­tion from a sec­ond back op­er­a­tion.

“The fact Davis [Love III] has ap­pointed Tiger as a vice-cap­tain means Tiger is go­ing to bring a huge in­tim­i­da­tion fac­tor to the USA team next Septem­ber,” said Spi­eth. “I am also of the opin­ion that Tiger will be on the team whether he qual­i­fies au­to­mat­i­cally or as a cap­tain’s pick.

“I was speak­ing with Tiger re­cently and while he’s been ap­pointed a vice­cap­tain, he told me he’s go­ing to make that Hazel­tine team, so I hope he does.”

Given Spi­eth has been ab­sent from com­pe­ti­tion for some three weeks, the 22-year old Texan was com­ment­ing pub­licly for the first time on Davis Love III’s ap­point­ment of ad­di­tional USA team vice-cap­tains in Woods, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker fol­low­ing an open­ing level par round 71 in the de­fence of his Aus­tralian Open ti­tle in Sydney.

“It’s a great de­ci­sion on Davis’s part se­lect­ing Tiger and I don’t see any down­side to it at all,” said Spi­eth.

“It maybe is a bit un­usual hav­ing five vice-cap­tains.

“But given I am not on the com­mit­tee that was formed, they do have a plan and the plan is to have five vice-cap­tains.

“So I will fol­low the plan and with an ad­di­tional vice-cap­tain I do feel this next Ry­der Cup could have a more laid back at­mos­phere.”

And Spi­eth sees no con­cern for the USA Team – as they seek to win the Ry­der Cup for what would be the first time since their 2008 vic­tory at Val­halla – should any of the vice­cap­tains qual­ify au­to­mat­i­cally for the team.

“While we’re not real sure about Tiger [Woods] and ‘Strick’ [Steve Stricker] you would have to think Jim [Furyk] could still qual­ify for the team but then I don’t have a prob­lem with that,” said Spi­eth.

“That wouldn’t hurt the team and I don’t think it would make much of a dif­fer­ence be­cause if any of the vice­cap­tains such as he and Tiger did make the team they would still be strong lead­ers out on the golf course. So be­ing a vice-cap­tain is just a la­bel that if they are not there, they’ll be there.”

Mean­while, it’s been con­firmed that Ca­tri­ona Matthew, Scot­land’s most suc­cess­ful fe­male Tour pro­fes­sional, is to join the na­tion’s golf­ing ‘Hall of Fame’ with the cel­e­bra­tion of her ca­reer at next year’s Scot­tish Golf Awards.

The for­mer Ri­coh Women’s Bri­tish Open cham­pion and eight-time Sol­heim Cup player is to be hon­oured with a Life­time Achieve­ment Award when event re­turns to the Ed­in­burgh Corn Ex­change on March 11.

SUP­PORT: Jor­dan Spi­eth has backed the de­ci­sion to ap­point Tiger Woods as USA vice-cap­tain

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