United States Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk last night dismissed suggestions Tiger Woods is suffering with a back problem.
The 14-time major winner, playing alongside Patrick Reed, was beaten 3&1 by Europe’s top-performing opening-day pair of Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood in the fourballs and did not feature in the afternoon foursomes.
That led to plenty of speculation that the 42-year-old, who has made a remarkable comeback to form following spinal fusion surgery, was being troubled by an old complaint.
But Furyk, who has put Woods out with Reed in today’s fourballs – once again against Molinari and Fleetwood – rejected those claims.
“I have not heard that he has had a back problem so I would say that is not true. You’d have to ask Tiger,” he said.
“I saw him out on the golf course and he was all good.
“Every time Tiger doesn’t play or stretches a bit it gets hyper-sensitive he may have a back issue, but I didn’t get any information from Tiger or my vice-captains.”
Woods himself did not speak about his fitness after his round, but stressed he was ready to play again when he was selected.
“I’ll be ready whenever the captain puts me out,” he said immediately after his round and before the pairings had been announced.
“I’m not going to work on anything. My game is fine. I was hammering it, the ball was going far, it was going straight, but it was not cutting.
“I can accept that, that’s really no big deal. My putting feels solid.”
On their struggles against the European duo the former world No 1 added: “We couldn’t answer them. Once they started rattling off birdies they were playing perfect best-ball.
“It’s disappointing and frustrating for Pat and I to not contribute to the team.
“When you lose a point you feel like you’ve contributed, but you’re contributing to the wrong team.”
After the shattering afternoon experience, Furyk defended the decision to play Phil Mickelson in foursomes alongside rookie Bryson DeChambeau, despite Mickelson ranking 192nd out of 193 players for driving accuracy on the PGA Tour.
“He’s got a lot of experience,” Furyk said of the five-time major winner.
“Most experienced Ryder Cup player of all time. I think his fourball record is a little better than his foursomes, but I realise the golf course is tight.
“I realise you have to hit a lot of fairways, but it’s also a place where you’re probably not hitting a lot of drivers if you’re Phil Mickelson and you’re hitting a lot of three-woods and a lot of irons.
“I’ve heard, I guess some of the rumblings and been aware their scores were pretty similar to pretty much the best scores we had on the team (in foursomes).
“I have all the confidence in both of those players and I have so much confidence in Phil in his ability to take a young player like Bryson and help him out.
“And I’ll be honest. I’d do it again. I have a lot of confidence in all 12.”