Tiger Set to Step Back Into Positive Limelight at Presidents Cup
Tiger Woods looks set to step back into the public environment of competitive golf next month at the Presidents Cup in New Jersey, when he is expected to serve as one of Steve Stricker's assistant captains for the United States team.
It was announced last year that the 14-time major champion would take up the role alongside Fred Couples, Davis Love III, and 2018's Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk. Woods was previously an assistant last September at Hazeltine, with his presence on the course and behind the scenes being widely praised by players on the team who clearly look up to the greatest player of his generation.
The 41-year-old has quietly become a mentor to several of the game's leading young stars, notably Justin Thomas, who dined with the former world number one the day after securing his first major title at the PGA Championship. Jason Day has also spoken of his regular correspondence with childhood his idol during recent years, tapping into the uniquely deep experience and knowledge that only a champion of that stature can provide.
However, Tiger's continued injury problems - which saw him undergo a fourth back surgery in April - may have impacted on his attendance for the matches against Nick Price's International team, but Stricker has confirmed that he expects Woods to play a vital role as America looks to defend after 2015's remarkably close contest in South Korea.
Speaking with Rex Hoggard of the Golf Channel , the 50-year-old said: “It will be good to have him there. Guys are looking forward to it and I know he’s looking forward to it as well. He wants to get back in the mix, and I know he’s itching to get back out here, and this will be a first step for him.
“I talked to him a few times, just to make sure he’s good and still coming,” the captain added. “A couple of months ago, he wasn’t feeling well enough to come, now, he is, he said."
Considering the events of recent years and the struggles during his most recent short-lived comeback attempt, it remains uncertain that Woods will return to playing the game at the highest level, but his developing status as a supporter and advisor to the young players of today is unquestionably proving influential. Tiger was a huge inspiration to many of these new stars, that is perhaps his greatest legacy, and helping to nuture them is evidently something that he relishes.
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