Tiger Woods of the United States has been the world's number-one ranked golfer for more than five years. For the first time in his professional career, Woods is not guaranteed a spot on the United States' Ryder Cup team when it faces a European squad in October.
The 38th edition of the Ryder Cup golf competition gets underway October 1 at Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales. The event is played every two years, alternating between courses in the United States and Europe.
The United States is the defending champion after breaking a string of three straight Europe victories by winning the 2008 competition, 16 1/2 to 11 1/2 at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.
PGA of America President Jim Remy is looking forward to this year's event.
"I can not tell you how excited we are to be here," said Remy. "And when you look at that list, we can not wait until October first, until the first ball is hit and the competition is underway."
But the big question overshadowing the event, at least from the U.S. team's perspective, is whether Tiger Woods will be included on the team. Woods failed to earn a spot on the Ryder Cup squad for the first-time in his professional career, after leading the standings every year since 1997. He must now rely on U.S. captain Corey Pavin to use one of his four wild card picks to add him to the 12-man team.
Woods has made it clear that he wants to play in the Ryder Cup and would accept a captain's pick. Pavin says Woods is a possible selection, but he is keeping his options open.
"His comments to the press and the media are very positive. He wants to play, he wants to be on the team. Again, he is high on my list, he is certainly a big consideration, no doubt," he said. "But as I have said before, he and a lot of other guys are up on my list."
Eight players - Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Jeff Overton and Matt Kuchar - received automatic roster spots based on the Ryder Cup points they earned. Tiger Woods finished 12th on the list. Four of the players - Watson, Johnson, Overton and Kuchar - have never played in the Ryder Cup.
But Pavin says he plans to watch how people play in upcoming events before announcing his wild card selections on September 7.
"It is not necessarily the best 12 players per se. So that is going to be part of my consideration in the next three weeks. Is what four players do we add to that eight to make the best team possible? We want Team USA to be the best team," he added. "And that may not necessarily be what everybody would perceive to be the next best four players. But that is my job, is to put the best team together."
European players still have a chance to earn ranking points and qualify for their team. Captain Colin Montgomerie of Scotland will not know his automatic picks until after the completion of the Johnnie Walker Championship in Gleneagles, Scotland.