Head Of States?
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And there is a part of being truly special at what you do that requires a certain amount of selfishness -- perhaps the more generous term is "self-focus." When Tiger is at his best, he is not smiling and waving to the crowd or chatting with his playing partner. He is staring straight head. That is what works for him.
One of the questions The Scandal raised about Woods is what exactly his legacy will be. Has he forfeited his right to age into the role of an elder statesman in the game like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player? Would that be a factor in considering him for Ryder Cup captain?
My guess there is that the PGA of America would fall all over itself to say "yes" if Tiger indicated he really wanted the job. I mean talk about being handed a sure-fire marketing situation. The Ryder Cup would go from a cash cow to a cash herd.
It's easy to say the Ryder Cup captains get too much credit for victories and too much blame for losses. But from where I sit, Seve Ballesteros and Ben Crenshaw made a difference for winning sides while Sutton and Mark James, with his Sunday singles line-up for Europe in 1999, contributed to losses.
So, I guess what I am saying is that I think the captain can make a difference, and I'm not so sure Tiger would make a good captain. But I will say this, if he had the position, here is what he would bring to the job: Intelligence and a desire to win.
Throughout his career, Woods has mentally dominated his opponents, in part through that haka-like intimidation and in part by having a Larry Bird-like instinct as to when to hit the killer three-point shot that broke an opponent's will.
As for his own desire, well I remember being at the 2008 Arnold Palmer invitational at Bay Hill when Woods rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win. He pumped his fist, ripped off his hat and threw it on the ground and raised his head skyward and shouted to the heavens. And it was his 64th PGA Tour win.
As I watched the scene unfold, I thought: "That's why he is special. Winning never gets old for him. He is acting like it's his first win, not his 64th." Any satisfaction Woods found from a victory was quickly filed away and his focus redirected to winning the next event. That is a special gift that contributed greatly to Tiger being a special player.
But can Woods bring that passion and will-to-win to a captaincy or, like Ted Williams, can Tiger pick up the rotation of the pitch in an other-worldly way that can't be taught to others?
Certainly, the singular Ben Hogan was a winning captain, but that was well before the Ryder Cup became competitive and then morphed into European domination. But perhaps if that trend continues -- Europe is 9-4-1 since 1985 in the Ryder Cup -- the U.S. team has nothing to lose by making Woods the captain.
I have my doubts that a guy who can't play in the team formats can lead a team. But who knows what Woods will mellow into over the decade or so before he is ready to quit playing and be a captain?
In the meantime, with just a few words spoken in Turkey, Woods has once again triggered controversy. And that is also what makes him special. That pendulum of opinion will always swing wide when it comes to Tiger Woods.