U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker wants Tiger Woods to serve as an assistant

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- Steve Stricker has been in touch with Tiger Woods about being a vice captain on his U.S. Ryder Cup team this fall, and though it is too early to say whether Woods can be part of the team in person, it's clear the captain wants him there.

Stricker, speaking in advance of the PGA Championship at the Ocean Course on Wednesday, said Woods' involvement with the team is welcome.

"I've talked to him; I don't know if we are there yet to commit to him being there,'' Stricker said. "He's still got a lot going on, and his spirits are great, though, as of late. We were on a Zoom call with him just last week, and he seems like he's in a better place. He's still got some ways to go.

"But I'd love to have him there. Who wouldn't, right? The guys really respect him, and he did a great job as [Presidents Cup] captain [in 2019], and he was an assistant of mine in 2017 [at the Presidents Cup] and he was unbelievable. He would do anything for you, and he's totally, totally vested in the situation and the process, almost to the point of, he's on it early and so much, it's like, 'Dude, we've still got months to go yet.' He's really good at being an assistant, and I'd love to have him be there if it's at all possible.''

Woods was involved in a serious one-vehicle accident on Feb. 23 in Southern California in which he suffered multiple fractures to his right leg as well as foot and ankle injuries.

Information about his recovery progress has been limited and has consisted mostly of anecdotal accounts from players such as Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler who have visited him. Woods posted a picture of himself on April 23 on crutches and with his right leg in a cast.

Stricker has already named Davis Love III, Zach Johnson and Jim Furyk as assistants for the Ryder Cup matches that will take place at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin from Sept. 24 to 26. It is likely he will name two more.

"I don't know if he can be there or not, but he said, 'You know I'm here for you all the way up to the Ryder Cup,''' Stricker said. "That shows his level of commitment to me and to the team, and his desire to be there if he can be."

Due to the pandemic and the postponement of the matches from 2020, the PGA of America changed the team's criteria and is giving Stricker six captain's picks in addition to six players who will automatically qualify for the team in August.