By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - United States Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III says he will cheer on assistant captain Tiger Woods to give him reason to put him on the team as a player once the former world number one returns to competition.
Speculation has been mounting that 14-times major champion Woods could soon be returning to competitive golf after a long layoff recovering from back problems.
"He wants to be there and wants to be part of the team," Love told Reuters in an interview promoting the next Ryder Cup, which starts on Sept. 30 at Minnesota's Hazeltine course.
"When he starts playing, he's gonna try to show off for the captain and show that he can play. We'd love to have him in both roles as a playing, assistant captain."
Woods, 40, last played competitively in August and has plunged to 499 in the world rankings.
Woods' fellow Ryder Cup assistant Jim Furyk will be returning from a nearly eighth-month injury absence when he tees it up next week in the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina and would also love to play in the Cup matches.
"They (both) want to be on that team and bring their golf clubs," Love said. "We're looking forward to Tiger getting back on tour and getting some points."
Even European team captain Darren Clarke would be happy to see his friend Woods competing at Hazeltine.
"I'd like to see Tiger on the team," Clarke interjected.
"Anytime Tiger plays in a tournament, he makes it even more special. With his record as a player, he's one of the best players ever to play our sport. If he was to make the American team, I think it would be wonderful."
(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)