Tiger Woods’ text helps inspire U.S. team in Ryder Cup

Sports

Team USA’s Xander Schauffele and Team USA’s Dustin Johnson smile after winning their four-ball match the Ryder Cup at the Whistling Straits Golf Course Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in Sheboygan, Wis. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) — Tiger Woods isn’t at Whistling Straits, but several U.S. players say he helped inspire them to a big lead in the first day of the Ryder Cup.

Woods sent a group text through captain Steve Stricker to American players, saying he was behind them in their battle to regain the cup.

“The gist of basically what he said was I’m cheering you guys on, I’m right there with you and go fight and make us proud,” Tony Finau said. “We were able to do that and if TW’s watching, thanks for that text, brother, I think it helps us a lot.”

Several players talked about the text from Woods, who is recovering from serious injuries in a February car accident. The U.S. went 6-2 on the opening day for its biggest first day margin since 1975.

“Tiger’s not with us in person but I know he’s watching and talking to Stricker a lot,” Harris English said. “We know he’s got our backs, so that’s really cool and we kind of used that energy today.”

Xander Schauffele said the players were excited to hear that Woods was cheering hard for them from his home in Florida.

“We knew he was fist pumping from the couch,” Schauffele said. “Whether he was on crutches or not he’s as fired up as any back at home. So it’s nice to have his support.”

Stricker said he got the text Thursday and sent it out to the team on Friday. He said Woods wished players good luck and shared a few personal observations.

“He’s a friend of a lot of these guys and these guys look up to him and I lean on him a lot throughout this whole process,” Stricker said. “So it was great to hear from him and provide some words of encouragement to these guys.”

Woods was an assistant captain in 2016, when the U.S. last won the cup. He returned as a player in 2018, but did not win a point in his matches. In eight Ryder Cups, Woods earned 14.5 points but had an overall losing record and only played on one winning team — the 1999 team that won in a huge final day comeback at Brookline.

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