While golf media is lauding Tiger for his announcement that he is taking himself out of consideration for the Ryder Cup team, I have a more cynical view of the situation.
As with everything Team Tiger does, this was all about Tiger Woods. (and rightfully so, from their perspective). Team Tiger could not take the chance that Tom Watson would decide NOT to add Tiger to the team. If Watson passed on Tiger, it would reflect badly on the brand and add to the feeling that Tiger is done.
Withdrawal due to injury, while not the best situation, is preferable to being left off the team. By withdrawing, Team Tiger controls the message: Tiger is injured and cannot help the badly-in-need-of-help US Team.
I say this because an injury withdrawal is exactly what I would have advised Tiger to do.
Look at the options:
Tiger leaves his name in contention and Watson decides not to pick him: Very bad for Tiger. Potentially very bad for Watson if Team USA loses. Even worse for Tiger if Team USA wins (he’s a has-been).
Tiger gets picked by Watson and does not perform well: Very bad for Tiger. Worse for Watson (unless Team USA wins, in which case even worse for Tiger, since it will be evident they won without him).
Tiger gets picked by Watson and performs well: Good For Tiger. Good for Watson (unless the US Team loses, in which case nothing is good for Watson).
Tiger withdraws because of an injury: Neutral for Tiger (no one can fault a player who is injured). Good for Watson (he doesn’t have to choose and if he fails to regain the Cup, injuries will be part of the excuses.)
Given the options, withdrawal is the only choice.
I am approaching this in a very cynical fashion because I am not sure how much of Tiger’s problem is actual injury and how much is lack of practice and just sheer bad play. It is clear that he is not physically well. But he also famously won a US Open on a broken leg (or so the legend goes).
It doesn’t matter, though. Team Tiger has made the right choice, but not for the reasons the golf pundits say.