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Gary Player Rooting for Tiger Woods: ‘We Need a Black Champion’

Gary Player, one of only five golfers to win the modern Grand Slam, along with Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods, said that golf needs Woods to win championships again.

Woods, 39, now ranks 258th in the world after a stellar career in which he won 14 major championships, second only to Nicklaus, who amassed 18. He missed the cut at the British Open last week after missing it at the U.S. Open in June.

Player, who hails from South Africa, visited the Berenberg Gary Player Invitational in Virginia Water, England, where he told Omnisport:

We need Tiger Woods. Why? He’s a man of color. We need a black champion. Go to Africa, where we’ve got all these young black kids used to seeing a white guy as the champion. Now they’re getting inspired; they’re sitting in front of their TV sets. It inspires them; it gets them interested in golf. Asia wants to see a man of color. So there are many reasons besides being so charismatic. I don’t know if anybody in the world today can play like Tiger Woods did.

The last major Woods captured came in 2008, when he won the U.S Open only months after undergoing knee surgery. His last tour win came at the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which he won by seven shots.

Player stated he was “sad” to watch Woods game fall apart, although he has said that Woods should not have changed his swing. He told Omnisport:

He won the U.S. Open by 15 shots and was having a lesson the next week. He’s had lessons from four people or five people who really are not that good at playing. You’ve got to go for a lesson with someone who has been in the arena. If I want to know about business, I’ll go to a businessman, I’ll come to you for good interviews; everyone has got their skills. But Tiger Woods, he needs it overall — mentally, physically and theoretically — so he can get back to normality.”

Chris Como coaches Woods; in August 2014 Woods split with Sean Foley, who had worked with his swing for four years. Hank Haney resigned as Woods’ coach in 2010; he had coached Woods since 2003.

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