Tiger Woods struggles at Ryder Cup, sits out afternoon session

PARIS -- Tiger Woods looked considerably different than the guy who was holding his arms up in triumph just five days ago in Atlanta at the Tour Championship.

Perhaps his 80th PGA Tour victory, the emotion of winning for the first time in five years and the hectic aftermath of coming to the Ryder Cup in Paris were part of the difference.

But Woods was not the same golfer Friday at Le Golf National in his four-ball match with partner Patrick Reed against England's Tommy Fleetwood and Italy's Francesco Molinari, a 3-and-1 loss that dropped Woods' Ryder Cup record to 13-18-3.

"Well, it's been a lot of golf," said U.S. captain Jim Furyk of the added stress on Woods for winning last week and playing often this year. "I think winning last week was very exciting. Also probably takes a little bit out of you. I felt like he can go 36 today, but looking at the groups we had on the course. ... I looked and I felt like I had those groups out on the golf course that were playing extremely well. Kept them on the golf course and tried to get some guys in this afternoon that I also thought were playing really well.''

Asked if he was going to work on his game at all, Woods said no.

"My game is fine," Woods said. "My cut really wasn't cutting off the tee today. I was hammering it. The ball was going far. It was going straight, but it was not cutting. I can accept that. That's really no big deal. My putting feels solid. I'll be ready come tomorrow whenever Captain [Jim Furyk] puts me out.''

Fortunately for Woods and Reed, their teammates picked them up as the U.S. took a 3-1 lead after the morning session.

And for the first time in eight Ryder Cup appearances, Woods sat out an opening-day session at the Ryder Cup. He had previously missed just one, during the morning of the second day at Medinah in 2012.

Woods, 42, appeared to be lacking the energy that helped him to victory a week ago. Several swings seemed to be without speed, the best example being his tee shot at the par-3 16th, when his ball came up well short of the green and in the water.

That proved crucial, as the U.S. had just gone 1-down on the 15th hole. A few moments later, Fleetwood rolled in a birdie putt to give the Europeans a 2-up lead, and they closed out the match a hole later, when both Woods and Reed missed the green. Molinari capped it off with another birdie.

"I have not heard that's he had a back problem, so I would say that's not true,'' said Furyk when asked if Woods had any physical issues. "You'd have to ask Tiger, but no, I saw him out on the golf course and he said all was good. I was actually out practicing tonight after the matches. Tiger draws so much attention, anytime he doesn't play maybe he stretches a little bit, everyone gets a little hypersensitive that he might have a back issue. I am not aware of anything like that, and I didn't get any information like that from Tiger or my vice captains.''

When Woods birdied the par-5 ninth hole and Reed chipped in for birdie to go 2-up at the 10th, the Americans seemingly had the momentum and a huge advantage against two players believed to be one of Europe's best tandems.

But Molinari made consecutive birdies at the 11th and 12th holes to square the match, and neither Woods nor Reed could make a birdie the rest of the way.

"We were in control of the match being 2-up, but we just didn't make any birdies coming in," Woods said. "You have to make birdies in four-ball. You have to do it. 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.''

Reed played all five matches at Hazeltine two years ago and went 3-1-1 in the U.S. victory.

Woods has now not won a Ryder Cup match since defeating Molinari in singles at the 2010 Ryder Cup in Wales. He went 0-3-1 during his last appearance in 2012.