LONDON (GUARDIAN) - Golf needs Tiger Woods to recapture his former glory because the sport needs a black champion, according to South African great Gary Player.
Woods, a 14-time major winner who has spent greatest total number of weeks at world No. 1, missed yet another cut at the Open this week to fall to 258th in the global rankings and Player said the American's decline had broader consequences for a game dominated by white players and officials.
Player told Omnisport: "We need Tiger Woods. Why? He's a man of colour. 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 colour. 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."
Player added he was "sad" to see Woods struggling so badly.
The 39-year-old's loss of form has been alarming: his last tournament victory came in 2013, and he has missed the cut in four of the eight tournaments he has played this season.
His quest to overhaul compatriot Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 major championship titles appears unlikely.
"Tiger Woods won the US Open by 15 shots (in 2000)," Player said. "He was on the way to breaking every record, he was on his way to being the greatest player that ever lived.
"Whether he will do that now and fulfil his dream, I don't know. Only the Lord above knows.
"But it's sad to see him shooting 85 and missing the cuts and not hitting the fairways."