RYDER CUP REDEMPTION
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