Tom Watson will decide on making injured Tiger Woods a captain's pick for the US Ryder Cup team largely on trusting the 14-time major winner to evaluate himself.
The 64-year-old leader of the American squad that will try to recapture the trophy from Europe in six weeks at Gleneagles, Scotland, said Monday that he will rely upon Woods to admit if his nagging back injury is too painful for him to participate in the biennial match-play event.
"I think it really directly comes from Tiger, how he assesses himself," Watson said.
"The main thing is I can't really assess his medical condition and I honestly can't assess how he's playing. It really is going to be having to come from information from Tiger himself."
So can Watson trust such a source, who has admitted he dearly wants to play on the US side?
"Absolutely," Watson said.
"I trust Tiger to give me the straight skinny. I trust him inherently."
Woods, who has not won a major since the 2008 US Open, withdrew from a World Golf Championships event eight days ago with back pain and battled through it again in the second round of the PGA Championship last Friday before missing the cut.
Woods said the injury is unrelated to the back surgery he underwent March 31 to ease a pinched nerve that sidelined him for nearly four months, but that does not mean it will heal in time for Woods to play at Gleneagles.
"I will continue to speak with Tiger over the next three weeks to monitor his situation," Watson said. "Obviously he has not been playing well, but I think it has been a result of his injury and his coming back from back surgery."
Watson says he would give Woods a captain's pick if he were healthy and playing well but even though he is neither, Watson said, "I would be a fool not to consider him."
"The most important thing is his health," Watson said. "Right now, his health is not good And whether that can change in the next three weeks, as I said, I'll monitor the situation.
"It's about his physical capability. Right now, he can't go."
Watson says that Woods made clear his desire to play on the US team, a desire likely heightened by last year's US loss on home soil to a last-day rally by Europe at Medinah.
"Tiger said that to me in our conversation, 'I want you to pick me,'" Watson said.
- Tiger big with teammates -
Because Woods has not qualified for the season-ending US PGA playoffs, he likely will have a six-week layoff before the Ryder Cup.
Watson said he couldn't answer when asked if it was imperative for Woods to play in the next few weeks, but made it clear that the 69-time PGA winner, three shy of Sam Snead's all-time wins record, offers more than shotmaking for the Americans.
"He is Tiger Woods and he brings a lot to the team, if he has the ability to play and he's healthy," Watson said.
"He brings something to the team in a big way. He has been really good in the team room of recent and he's a factor with the players. I know that for a fact. He's a very positive influence on the players."