TIGER WOODS : Player -Captain-Ambassador, Career renaissance has him relishing his role with the U.S. Presidents Cup team.

Before he took aim at a makeshift target floating on the Yarra River, Shane Luke, an accomplished disabled golfer, glanced up at Tiger Woods, whom he knew only from television.

Luke was one of the local stars participating in the  made-for-TV kickoff event in Melbourne's  Crown Riverwalk area ahead of the of the 13th edition, of the Presidents Cup. Faced with his big moment in front of the crowd, and his one shot at connecting with Woods, Luke decided to go for broke.

''Will you hold my leg for me?'' Luke asked Woods.

Luke, a nine-time Australian Amputee Open Championship, removed his right prosthetic limb and handed it to surprised Woods.
''It's really heavy,'' he warned. Woods smiled and replied, ''I've got it.''

Balancing on his left leg, Luke hot a wedge shot that landed in the improvised green as Woods watched intently, leaning on the prosthetic legs as if it were his putter.

''Obviously it was good of him even to do it,'' Luke said, calling it ''the favorite moment of my life.''

''He could have said. 'No, I'm not touching that!' It was meant to be a bit of fun and get a bit of reaction from the crowd, a few claps and cheers, that's all. But who knows what his reaction would be?''

This is not the first time that Australians are seeing Tiger Woods, the playing captain of the United States team, but it is as if they are seeing him with fresh eyes.

Wood represented the United States in each of the two previous Presidents Cups held at Royal Melbourne Golf Club, in 1998 and 2011, and he won the Australian Masters in 2009 in his only other competitive appearance as a pro in Australia.

This year's installment starts with a four-ball session.

Adam Scott, the Adelaide native and former world No. 1, recently challenged Australia's sports-crazed public to refrain from rooting for Woods and to instead support the underdog Internationals, which counts three Australian team members.

But Scott might as well have been spitting into the wind that regularly buffets Royal Melbourne.

The biennial competition is most likely the last professional playing appearance on Australian soil for Woods, who is in the midst of a career renaissance after resorting to spinal fusion surgery in 2017 to try to improve his quality of life.

The World Students Society thanks author Karen Crouse.


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