SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES: Tiger Woods said that the “team is the most important thing” after he lost on his Ryder Cup return before the US slumped to a foursomes whitewash in his absence to fall 5-3 behind Europe on Friday.
The former world number one has attracted plenty of attention this week as he plays the matchplay showdown for the first time since 2012.
But, with their match being followed by thousands of supporters, Woods and Patrick Reed blew a 2-up lead to lose 3 and 1 to Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari.
“The biggest takeaway for us as a team, is that we have a two-point lead, and that’s the most important thing,” said Woods.
“It’s disappointing and frustrating for Pat and I to not contribute to the team.
“When you lose a point, you feel like you’re contributed but you’re contributing to the wrong team. They got the points instead of us.”
Woods and Reed will face Molinari and Fleetwood again in Saturday’s fourballs.
The 42-year-old appeared to run out of steam late in the round, but US captain Jim Furyk allayed any fears that the back injury that kept Woods out of the game for all but four years had flared up again.
“I have not heard that he’s had a back problem, so… I would say that that’s not true,” insisted Furyk.
“You’d have to ask Tiger, but no, I saw him out on the golf course. He said he was all good.
“He was actually out practising tonight after the matches.”
Bubble burst by inspired Fleetwood
Woods started his match strongly just five days after claiming his first title in over five years at the Tour Championship, but was let down by a wayward Reed and lost his own form late on.
England’s Fleetwood poured in long-range birdies at 15 and 16, before British Open champion Molinari added one of his own on the penultimate green to seal the win.
The defeat worsened Woods’ already-disappointing Ryder Cup, which now stands at 13 wins, 18 losses and three halves.
“As I said we were in control of the match being 2-up, but we just didn’t make any birdies coming in,” added the 14-time major champion.
“You have to make birdies in fourball.
“We did it early. I think I made about four birdies there on that front nine. Pat had a couple. We were putting it on them, and then on the back nine, it flipped. They put it on us, and we couldn’t answer.”
Woods had been well-received by the French galleries during the practice rounds, but they were firmly behind Fleetwood and Molinari at Le Golf National.
The match-changing putts that ensured Europe would avoid a first-session whitewash drew the biggest cheers of the day, although the celebrations when Woods found water on the 16th were muted.
He said he was not worried about his game heading into Saturday, despite being left out of Friday’s afternoon foursomes debacle by Furyk.
“I’m not going to work on anything. My game is fine. My cut really wasn’t cutting off the tee today.
“I can accept that. That’s really no big deal. My putting feels solid. I’ll be ready come tomorrow whenever captain puts me out.”