Tom Watson, the United States Ryder Cup captain, insists he can rely on Tiger Woods to tell him the truth about his fitness, but admits a European team "full of star power" will be favourites to retain the famous trophy.
Woods told Watson he wants to be chosen as a wild card for next month's contest at Gleneagles despite having played just four tournaments on his return to action following back surgery.
The former world No.1 missed the cut in the Quicken Loans National, suffered his worst 72-hole finish in a major as a professional at the Open and then withdrew from the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
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Three days later he claimed he was pain free and targeting victory in the US PGA Championship, only to suffer further back problems and miss only his fourth cut in 66 majors in the paid ranks at Valhalla.
"I don't make this comment loosely. He is Tiger Woods and he brings a lot to the team," said Watson yesterday. "If he has the ability to play and he's healthy I'd be a fool not to consider him. He's been really good in the team room of late and he's a factor with the players."
Asked if he could trust Woods' assessment of his health, Watson added: "Absolutely. He's just like me. I'm direct and he's direct. I can't assess his medical condition and I honestly can't assess how he's playing. It is going to have to come from Tiger himself."
Rory McIlroy's victories in the Open Championship and US PGA and Martin Kaymer's runaway win in the US Open means European players won three of the year's four majors for the first time.
European captain Paul McGinley can also call on the services of the world Nos. 3, 4 and 5 in Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose and Watson admitted he wished world No.1 McIlroy was on his side. "I like the way he plays," Watson added. "He reminds me of me. He's ready to go. He plays his shot and takes the consequences. Finds it and hits it again. Right now, he's driving the ball better than anybody in the game. When you have confidence in the driver and you have the ability to hit the ball as far, the game is easy. And he knows it and everybody else knows it."