'Tiger needs to be less distant from fans'
Tiger Woods needs to expose his inner thoughts and feelings in a way he has never done before in order to connect with the millions of fans who follow him around the world, according to his former Ryder Cup captain Curtis Strange.
Fourteen-times major champion Woods has always been careful with his words when dealing with the media and, despite pleas to be more forthcoming, he has been equally guarded since news emerged in 2009 of his marital infidelities.
“I think he is missing a wonderful opportunity to show his personality and his inner feelings,” fellow American Strange told Reuters in a telephone interview. “He doesn’t tell us anything (meaningful), he never says anything to us.
“The people don’t want everything but I think the general public and the press just want something. I don’t understand and don’t know why he wants to be so distant from the world.
“The world still likes the man, there are a lot of people who don’t respect him any more but they still watch and he can still win them over. People forgive,” added the US Open champion of 1988 and 1989.
Former world number one Woods tumbled down the rankings following his marriage breakdown but two victories this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida and the Memorial Tournament in Ohio have taken him back up to number four.
Strange, who captained Woods at the 2002 Ryder Cup, said his fellow countryman would never again scale the golfing peaks the way he did a decade ago.
“He is almost 37. He is not going to play as well as he did when he was 22 but that doesn’t mean he still can’t be somewhat of a dominant force,” said Strange who will be an analyst during ESPN’s televised coverage of the British Open at Royal Lytham next month.
“We still question his game it seems, how good he plays, how good he swings, comparing him to yesterday without recognising and congratulating him on his two wins this year. It is not enough, with Tiger it is never enough.
“Prior and during the US Open this month we asked: ‘When is he going to be back?’. What defines him being back? I guess the consensus is if he wins another major,” the 57-year-old added.
“But even then people say he is not back because he is not playing as well as he did in 2000, 2001. To me he is never going to play that well because he is older.”
Woods is also often criticised for taking the Ryder Cup less seriously than he does individual strokeplay tournaments and some have suggested the US team might be better off without him when they face the European holders in the next edition of the biennial event in September.
Strange said Woods was a perfect team member in 2002 and that he should definitely be in Davis Love III’s side in Illinois.
“He was the easiest man on my team to deal with, he was fantastic,” said the former skipper. “The one thing I wanted from the players to make my life easier was to be punctual and to get some of the things that had to be done during the week out of the way so we could just talk and play golf.
“For the signing of memorabilia, the radio, TV interviews — he was the first one to get all of that out of the way because he wanted to play golf. I can’t speak highly enough of him during that week,” said Strange.
“He was nowhere close to what you might read in the press, in that he wasn’t a team player or he wasn’t this or that, he was fantastic.
“The only thing I wish Tiger would have done is be more of a vocal leader, versus a quiet leader.”