Friday, 19 September 2008

Can Tiger Woods do from his armchair, what he's struggled to do on the course – Help the US win…

You're Paul Azinger. Tiger Woods, the greatest golfer on the planet is injured. So if you can't have him on your team, you've got to involve him somehow don't you? You offer him a Vice Captaincy role; he roundly refuses. So you ask if he'll consider being on the phone to talk tactics and such with. "Um, well, yeah, you've got my number, I'm not there, I have no feel for the course, so I'll probably be of little use but sure, why not…".You rub your hands together with glee, you got your man!

The mystery remains as to what Paul Azinger reckons having a hotline to the hottest property in golf will achieve this week. But it does conjure up an amazing image of the great man turning himself, for one week only, into the highest paid, most ridiculously over-qualified armchair pundit the world has ever seen. So what valuable contributions can Tiger make from his perch in front of the telly as he rests his gammy leg?

Well he can always offer words of comfort to the six rookies that are in the American Team this year. He can regale him with the tale of his first Ryder Cup experiences. "Oh it was a great week, even though I only managed to get one and a half points out of five but I did get to play with my good friend Mark O'Meara. Don't be worrying, I'm sure you'll do much better than I did, I'd only been the best player in the world at that point for a short time."

If Phil Mickelson needs a pick me-up, he can always call on good buddy, old pal Tigger for some motivation. "Yeah Phil, Don't worry, just don't do what you did when you were playing with me in 2004, you remember? When you hit that drive on the last and it went clean out of bounds, yeah? Just don't do that and you'll be fine… I don't hate you, honest."

This is the thing, how can a man who really has never seemed to like the Ryder Cup, has complained that the players should be paid for their services, has a losing record in Ryder Cup play (won 10, halved 2, lost 13), has a poor relationship with some members of the team, didn't want to be a Vice Captain and only reluctantly agreed to hand over his phone number in the end, be worth chasing up to talk on the phone? It's a poor message to send to the players; even crippled and not in the same state as us, we still need him to win.

He made the point himself, what can he tell from his living room that Azinger could not judge better on the course? Unless Tiger is willing to divulge the secret of his ability to make crucial incredible putts when it matters most (a talent strangely absent during most Ryder Cups he's competed in) and can do this over the phone, then what use can he be to Azinger and his team. Picture Phil Mickelson's face, or that of the several players who are much older than Tiger, if he was put on the speakerphone to give them a motivational talk, bulldog chewing a wasp…

The striving to include Tiger in proceedings has only served as a reminder to the players that they are one huge man down. Would it not have been better for Azinger to say to his players, hey guys, Tiger's not here, but I don't think we need him; you're good enough to win this without him. Why not rely on someone who's done it all before, as an actual captain, like Jack Nicklaus or Tom Watson? That might have been a whole lot more useful than handing them Tiger's cell number like a Samaritan Helpline.

Which leaves me wondering, surely there's an opportunity for some clever Advertising executive to run over to Tiger's house and shoot an ad with Tiger on his sofa, bowl of nacho's by his side; beer in one hand, cell phone in the other. Dispensing advice that will bring the Ryder Cup back to America, pulling the strings from the comfort of home, all on his "Insert brand here" mobile phone… The phone that won the Ryder Cup.

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