- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tiger Woods took the decision out of Tom Watson’s hands.

Woods announced Wednesday evening he was removing himself from consideration for next month’s Ryder Cup so he could take time off to rehabilitate his back.

Woods said in a statement on his website he had informed Watson of the decision.

“The U.S. team and the Ryder Cup mean too much to me not to be able to give it my best,” he said. “I’ll be cheering for the U.S. team. I think we have an outstanding squad going into the matches.”

Watson had said Monday he “would be a fool not to consider” Woods for one of his three captain’s picks for the Sept. 26-28 event at Gleneagles in Scotland.

It also might have been difficult for Watson to pick him, considering Woods‘ recent form.

He missed the cut at last weekend’s PGA Championship with a pair of 74s, a week after pulling out of the final round of the Bridgestone Invitational with back problems. Woods has played in eight tournaments this year and completed 72 holes in only three of them.

Watson on Wednesday wished Woods the best.

“My primary wish is for Tiger to be healthy and competitive, and I hope that he’ll return to the game very soon,” he said in a statement. “Of course, I’m disappointed that Tiger Woods has asked not to be considered for the U.S. Ryder Cup Team, and that his health is not where he would like it to be.

“However, I think we can all agree that we need Tiger Woods in this great sport, and he has taken the high road by informing me early on in the selection process. My focus will remain on identifying three players to join the U.S. team and give us the best chance for success at Gleneagles.”

Watson will announce his captain’s picks Sept. 2.

The nine players already locked in for the U.S. team are: Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Zach Johnson.

Woods, who has played in seven Ryder Cups, will have to watch them from afar as he shoots for a planned return to tournament play Dec. 1-7 at his World Challenge event at Isleworth in Orlando.

“I’ve been told by my doctors and trainer that my back muscles need to be rehabilitated and healed,” he said. “They’ve advised me not to play or practice now. I was fortunate that my recent back injury was not related to my surgery and was muscular only.”