Ex-Ryder Cup winning captain Paul Azinger has backed Tiger Woods’ impact on the USA’s Ryder Cup team, despite Lee Westwood questioning the 14-times major champion’s involvement.
Woods will be a vice-captain for the US in Minnesota next week, with his chances of participating in a playing capacity scuppered by the back injury which has kept him sidelined for more than a year.
The 40-year-old has endured a miserable career in the Ryder Cup, with 17 defeats from his 33 matches, leading Westwood to raise doubts over the merits of his inclusion and whether he is a bad influence on the rest of the team.
But Azinger – the last US winning-captain in 2008 – believes Westwood is merely courting attention for the benefit of the television cameras.
“The times I’ve been on the same teams as Tiger he was anything but a divisive figure,” said Azinger.
“He was one of the younger players on our Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams when I played with him.
“He didn’t say a whole lot but he was terrific to be around.
“I do see where he might be an intimidating figure, but those comments by Westwood might line him up with a good TV job one day. Those kind of insights get you hired.”
Azinger added: “Until you’re comfortable with him, you’re probably a little intimidated by him, but I think Tiger has this real knack of making people around him uncomfortable if he wants to.
“But he also can be the most fun, and the nicest guy in the world too. I don’t see him as an intimidating personality type in the team room, other than his lore and his past as being invincible, really, as a player.
“I think Tiger’s going to be terrific in the team room.”