RY­DER CUP RE­DEMP­TION

Golf World (UK) - - TIGER TALES -

The rein­ven­tion of Tiger Woods sees him re­born with a broad smile upon his face.

When he was ap­proached to serve as a vice­cap­tain of the US squad at the 2016 Ry­der Cup at Hazel­tine, he jumped at the op­por­tu­nity. His­tor­i­cally, Woods had a sur­pris­ingly poor record in Ry­der Cup com­pe­ti­tion. Many be­lieved that his 13–17–3 over­all record re­flected his lack of en­thu­si­asm for the team spirit of the event, and, in truth, he had al­ways been aloof from his team­mates. But as vice-cap­tain, he spent hours talk­ing strat­egy by tele­phone with team mem­bers like Brandt Snedeker lead­ing up to the tour­na­ment. Guys who had never heard a word from Tiger were sud­denly get­ting pep­pered with calls. It was so un­usual that they were laugh­ing about how en­gaged he had be­come. “For the first time with every­body,” one source said, “he was com­pletely a locker-room guy.”

On pic­ture day, five chairs were set up as two play­ers sat on ei­ther side of Cap­tain Davis Love III and the rest of the 12-mem­ber squad gath­ered around. Woods got so caught up in the mo­ment that he was obliv­i­ous to the fact that the pho­tog­ra­pher was po­litely wait­ing for him to step out of the frame. Tiger, it seemed, be­lieved he was part of the team, and no one on the US con­tin­gent had the heart to tell the great­est golfer of all time that he didn’t be­long, leav­ing the pho­tog­ra­pher to de­liver the news. “Ah, Tiger,” he said diplo­mat­i­cally, “could you just go off to the right there?”

Not quite get­ting the mes­sage, Woods took a few steps but re­mained in the shot. Tak­ing it all in, US team mem­bers whis­pered and el­bowed each other like sec­ond graders un­til some­one fi­nally mus­tered the nerve to speak up. “Tiger,” came the words, “you’re not on the team. Please go stand over there with the other coaches.”

Ev­ery­one cracked up as a huge grin swept across Woods’s face. All week, the game’s young guns had been in awe of him, but sud­denly Tiger came across as just one of the guys. They had never seen him ap­pear so hu­man. “It just made you love the guy,” one said.

Tiger Woods by Jeff Bene­dict and Ar­men Keteyian is out now, pub­lished by Si­mon & Schus­ter and priced £20. To be in with a chance of win­ning one of six copies of the book, visit Golf World’s In­sta­gram page now at www.in­sta­gram.com/golf­world­mag

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