The 2025 U.S. Ryder Cup Team Still Lacks a Captain, But Now Has a Manager

Caddie-turned-TV analyst John Wood will take on a new role with the U.S. team that could streamline processes to free up time for the captain—who still could be Tiger Woods.
John Wood has been a part of nine Ryder Cups as a caddie or a broadcaster.
John Wood has been a part of nine Ryder Cups as a caddie or a broadcaster. / Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

The U.S. Ryder Cup team has yet to pick a captain for 2025. But it does have a team manager, a new role created recently and announced last week by the PGA of America.

The person taking on the task called it a “dream job,” although it has never been a job until now.

And yet, John Wood—former caddie, current on-course TV reporter—seems perfect for the role that the PGA said would be one of consulting with the captain, assistants, players and PGA of America management on strategy and operational issues.

As someone who has been involved in nine Ryder Cups, including six as a caddie, Wood sees himself as perhaps a missing piece that saves time for those doing the heavy lifting at a Ryder Cup.

“I think something as simple as scheduling the week of (the Ryder Cup) can be streamlined,” Wood told Sports Illustrated. “Something like even team pictures being done before a practice round that always seems to take longer than it should.

“That can be done the first evening they are there, so as not to disrupt any practice schedules or training that the players are used to doing. And depending on the captain, I think there will be things I can be a sounding board on long before the assistants are chosen.

“And I think I will be able to plan ahead more, especially from a year out.”

Wood was undoubtedly chosen because he has a good relationship with those involved in the Ryder Cup, including Tiger Woods, who may or may not be the captain, with a decision imminent.

At the PGA Championship, Woods expressed concerns about the time demands of the captaincy given his own priorities, including being on the PGA Tour Policy Board. It appears that the PGA of America and CEO Seth Waugh are willing to give Woods the time he needs to make a decision.

There have been no obvious backup choices, although Stewart Cink—who was an assistant to Zach Johnson last year in Rome—and even Fred Couples, a three-time Presidents Cup captain and an assistant on numerous teams, have been mentioned.

Wood, in theory, could alleviate some of the duties that take up time for a captain.

He said he was first approached by the PGA of America a few months ago and the initial inquiries, he believed, were more centered on who he might advocate for the role or what the job could entail.

Wood caddied for Mark Calcavecchia at the 2002 Ryder Cup, Chris Riley (2004), Hunter Mahan (2008, 2010 and 2014) and Matt Kuchar in 2016. He also worked as a team assistant in 2018 and then the last two Ryder Cups on TV.

After some of those Ryder Cups, Wood offered some of his thoughts to the PGA in writing. It might typically be difficult for a caddie to speak up in such situations, but sometimes their perspective can be overlooked but valuable.

“Woody is one of the smartest guys I know,” Calcavecchia says. “He’s a great caddie. Great on TV. Just so knowledgeable about the game. I loved the three years he caddied for me. Such a perfect spot and honor for him and I know how passionate he is about the Ryder Cup. He’ll be amazing at whatever they need him to do. Love the guy to death.”

Wood will continue in his role with NBC Sports as an on-course reporter, but will not be part of the broadcast next year at the Ryder Cup at Bethpage.

“There is nothing in my career I’ve been more passionate about than the Ryder Cup,” he says.

The Americans have failed to win a road Ryder Cup since 1993 and are coming off a big defeat to Europe last year in Rome. But they’ve won the last two home Ryder Cups in 2016 and 2021. The Europeans will be looking to win their first road Ryder Cup since 2012 at Medinah.

Golf’s D-Day anniversary

The RBC Canadian Open managed to escape the week without the off-course drama that has enveloped it in recent years. The tournament was not played in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2022, it was the played the same week as the first-ever LIV Golf event in London. Last year it followed the announcement of the June 6 “framework agreement” that dominated discussion during the week.

The one-year anniversary of that momentous announcement falls this week during the Memorial Tournament. The events have switched dates since the Memorial became a signature event and the PGA Tour wanted to move it to the week prior to the U.S. Open.

There figures to be plenty of discussion about the agreement this week, even though nothing has been completed. Plenty has changed in the golf world—the PGA Tour went ahead with plans to form a for-profit arm called PGA Tour Enterprises, got $1.5 billion of investment from a private equity company called Strategic Sports Group and outlined plans for players to get equity shares in the company over the next eight years.

But nothing has been decided with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, negotiations that are said to be ongoing as LIV Golf also plays its next event this week in Houston.

“Obviously a year later you would have thought we had a bit more clarity on that,” said Mackenzie Hughes, who has said previously he thinks all of the chatter is not good for the fans who want a resolution. “There’s not really much there. I think eventually when we get through this situation, I think golf will be in a great spot. But there’s a lot of hurdles to get over right now.”

Mackenzie Hughes is pictured at the 2024 RBC Canadian Open.
Mackenzie Hughes acknowledged that fans are tired of hearing about pro golf's off-course battle. / Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

One, of course, is all the money talk. LIV Golf is backed by the PIF, a $700-billion-plus fund. The $1.5 billion in equity PGA Tour Enterprises is getting could grow to $3 billion and is meant to grow the business so players can cash in on their equity shares, with players being in line for millions down the road.

So far, nothing has been done to greatly enhance the product. And the top players are competing against each other only at the major championships.

“I think one of the biggest things I think about is the fan and how the fan has been affected by all this,” Hughes said. “The fans are just tired of hearing about it, tired of hearing about the money. I don't think the money that's going around is sustainable for golf. I would love for the game to kind of come back a little bit where it's like we're just, we're talking about the golf now, we're not talking about LIV, we're not talking about the money and these purses and all that sort of stuff. Because people don't care. People don't want to hear it. I've said this many times to, you know, the media, the Tour ... I feel like we're shoving it down people's throats.

“This (the Canadian Open) is a big tournament for me, I would say far bigger than the one next week (the Memorial), but next week’s worth $20 million, this one's worth, I don't know how many, whatever, but that's not something that I care or think about, but I'm here to win this trophy, it wouldn't matter if it was for a thousand bucks or a million bucks, I'm here to play well and win this tournament. I think it's become so much about the money and, again, I would say 99 percent of the people don't care, they don't want to hear it. So I think the state of the game, I would say right now it's not super healthy, because of the things we're focused on, but I think once we can kind of get past this stuff and maybe the deal happens or it doesn't happen, but we kind of get some clarity there, then we can kind of go forward.”

Golf’s longest day

The U.S. Open is next week at Pinehurst No. 2 but nearly one-third of the field is still to be determined. A good number of those players will come from final qualifiers at 10 North American locations on Monday, with one in Canada and the rest in the U.S.

There have already been 23 players who made it into the field via qualifying in Dallas, London and Japan on May 20. Another 44 players are expected to advance through on Monday, with the United States Golf Association holding a few spots back for players who can still make it via the top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking as of June 10.

There are likely to be some withdrawals but for now there are 518 players are the 10 qualifying spots, with 84 players at a qualifier near San Francisco and 84 in Durham, N.C., having the most and Oregon, with 44, the least. The spots assigned to each site will not be disclosed until just before the events begin.

The Florida qualifier at the Bear's Club has 73 players, nine of whom play for LIV Golf including Joaquin Niemann, Branden Grace, Graeme McDowell and Charl Schwartzel. European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald is also at the Florida qualifier.

Stewart Cink, 51, is among those at the qualifier in Canada. Cink has played in 23 U.S. Opens. Charley Hoffman is also at that site.

LIV players Matt Jones and David Puig are at the qualifier in Lake Merced, Calif. Bill Haas and Webb Simpson are entered in the Durham qualifier, as is LIV player Harold Varner. Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington is among those at the Columbus, Ohio, qualifier.

Adam Scott, who has played in 91 consecutive majors dating to 2001, fell out of the top 60 in the OWGR again after his finish at the Canadian Open. He is scheduled to play in Springfield, Ohio.

The fields and scoring for all of the sites can be found here.

A bittersweet U.S. Women’s Open for Lexi ... and other notes

Lexi Thompson’s 18th U.S. Women’s Open did not go as she had hoped during a week in which she said this would be her last full season on the LPGA Tour. Thompson, just 29, played in her first U.S. Women’s Open at age 12. She turned pro at 15 and won as a teenager.

But she made clear last week that the demands of professional golf and expectations associated with it took a toll. She alluded to difficulty dealing with some of the criticism that often came her way. And she said the lifestyle can be lonely.

Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club proved to be difficult for numerous players and her scores of 78-75 missed the cut.

"Minus the golf, it was amazing,” Thompson said. “It wasn't the golf that I wanted to play honestly, but it was a special week, of course, with announcing what I did. To see all the parents out there and just to hear their chants and like 'Go Lexi's' made me smile every single shot even if I kept bogeying. It was a special week.”

Thompson said she appreciated the support.

“It's meant the world to me; like I said earlier in the week, this is where my whole dream got started,” she said. “When I was 12, I knew when I teed it up first at Pine Needles, that's where I wanted to be and playing against the best.

“To continue to do so and to be playing my 18th, though it wasn't the way I wanted to end it, it was always special every time I teed it up at the USGA events, so I cherished every moment that I had. I'm so blessed and grateful for the family I have.”

Thompson she hopes to make the U.S. Solheim Cup team and could still play selected events going forward. She has an app called “Lexi Fitness” that she is developing.

And a few more things

Robert MacIntyre’s victory at the RBC Canadian Open was his first on the PGA Tour after coming over this year via the DP World Tour exemption category. The win moves him well inside the top 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking and means he can avoid Monday’s 36-hole final qualifier he had signed up for in Canada. ... The Canadian Open was also a Open Qualifying Series event for the British Open at Royal Troon, with the top three players not otherwise exempt getting in the field. Those spots went to Ben Griffin, who finished second, and Mackenzie Hughes and Maverick McNealy, who tied for seventh. ... This week’s Memorial Tournament will offer one spot in the Open. The conclusion of the Memorial will also be a cutoff point for top 60 OWGR not otherwise exempt into the U.S. Open. ... Laurie Canter’s first victory on the DP World Tour at the European Open puts him in position to earn a PGA Tour card via the top 10 in the Race to Dubai not otherwise exempt. Canter is currently eighth after his victory. He’s also a reserve player for LIV, having competed in two events this year but none since February. The PGA Tour has stuck to a rule that makes you wait a year from your last LIV event to be able top play in a PGA Tour-sponsored event. ... The first round of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 is in 10 days.

 


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Bob Harig

BOB HARIG

Bob Harig is a senior golf writer for Sports Illustrated. He has more than 25 years experience covering golf, including 15 at ESPN. Bob is a regular guest on Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio and has written two books, DRIVE: The Lasting Legacy of Tiger Woods and Tiger and Phil: Golf's Most Fascinating Rivalry. He graduated from Indiana University where he earned an Evans Scholarship, named in honor of the great amateur golfer Charles (Chick) Evans Jr. Bob, a former president of the Golf Writers Association of America, lives in Clearwater, Florida.