JERSEY CITY (New Jersey) • Tiger Woods staked out a spot off to the side of the 14th green and cast a long, cold shadow on Kim Si Woo, the Presidents Cup rookie who was bent over a three-foot putt to extend Thursday's third foursomes match.
The South Korean, who was paired with another rookie, Emiliano Grillo, missed the putt, handing the United States team of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed a 5-and-4 victory.
Without taking a swing, Woods, an assistant captain for the US team, helped tilt a windswept Liberty National in favour of the Americans, who led by 31/2-11/2 after the first day of the biennial competition against an International team made up of golfers from outside Europe.
Spieth and Reed are in the four-man pod assigned to Woods, and Spieth said the former world No. 1's value went beyond the wisdom he can impart and the positivity he exudes.
"He knows he affects the people that are around him when they are not used to playing with him," Spieth said. "So he knows it's an advantage having him around. We'll take anything we can get there."
Woods, 41, rode in the cart with Reed's wife, Justine, and Spieth's girlfriend, Annie Verret, with whom he exchanged high-fives after the match. The spectators cried out his name - "Tiger! Tiger!" - more than they did Spieth's or Reed's.
On the mend from his fourth back operation, Woods this week has returned to the golf stage for the first time since his May arrest for driving under the influence, looking quite content in his supporting role.
He knows he affects the people that are around him when they are not used to playing with him. So he knows it's an advantage having him around. We'll take anything we can get there.
JORDAN SPIETH, American golfer, on the impact Tiger Woods, an assistant captain for the US team, has at the Presidents Cup.
He said on Wednesday that he has "no idea what my future holds".
Most people in the insular world of golf talk as if they cannot wait to see him return to competition.
"We'd love to see him back playing," Brooks Koepka, the reigning US Open champion, said of Woods. "I think everyone would be crazy if they didn't say that. I think he's good for the game."
UNITED STATES 3 1/2
INTERNATIONAL 1 1/2
DAY 1: FOURSOMES
Rickie Fowler/Justin Thomas bt Hideki Matsuyama/ Charl Schwartzel (Jpn/Rsa) 6 & 4
Dustin Johnson/Matt Kuchar bt Adam Scott/Jhonattan Vegas (Aus/Ven) 1-up
Jordan Spieth/Patrick Reed bt Kim Si Woo/Emiliano Grillo (Kor/Arg) 5 & 4
Louis Oosthuizen/ Branden Grace (Rsa) bt Brooks Koepka/ Daniel Berger 3 & 1
Kevin Kisner/Phil Mickelson halved Jason Day/ Marc Leishman (Aus)
Rory McIlroy, playing at the British Masters, said Woods "doesn't have anything to prove to anyone" as the 14-time Major winner battles to recover from injury.
"Tiger is the only one who knows whether or not he can return, so that's why he's taking it very slowly," said the world No. 6 on Thursday.
"But look, if he doesn't play again, he's been the greatest player that I've ever seen.
"He probably played the greatest golf that anyone in my lifetime has seen. I didn't really see (18-time Major champion) Jack (Nicklaus) play. Jack has a better record but I don't know if he played better golf."
Woods' future always seems to be framed in golf's big picture. But perhaps it would be more pertinent to ask: Would a return to competitive golf be good for him?
One person asking the question is Notah Begay III, a team-mate of Woods' at Stanford and a recovering alcoholic, who has been a sounding board, along with the swimmer Michael Phelps, for Woods since he sought professional help for mismanaging pain medications shortly after being changed with driving under the influence.
"We weren't looking at trying to salvage a golf career," Begay said. "We were trying to salvage someone's life and future."
The back injury set Woods back, isolating him from the community of players that might have provided support.
The United States' Presidents Cup captain, Steve Stricker, recognised this, which is why he reached out to Woods with the invitation to become an assistant captain, the same role he played at last year's Ryder Cup.
Stricker intuited that Woods would get as much, if not more, from this week as the young golfers he is mentoring.
"This is a two-way street," the 50-year-old said. "It would be wonderful if Woods were able to return to sound health, with a restored joy for the process of competitive golf."
NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Day 3:Foursomes & four-ball: Ch112/205 & 76.25MHz, 8pm