Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Woods: 'Heckuva Lot More Normal Than Masters'

After playing a leisurely 18 holes Wednesday morning in the Quail Hollow pro-am, Tiger Woods said his second golf tournament of the year feels more like normal than his return to golf at the Masters three weeks ago.

"This feels a heckuva lot more normal than the Masters did," Woods said at a press conference just after noon.

Woods' gallery grew as the morning unfolded. There were several hundred fans when he and his amateur partners teed off at 7:30 a.m. but thousands were following as they played the closing holes. There were no incidents and heckling from the gallery as Woods made occasional conversation with fans during the round.

Woods said he decided to make the Quail Hollow Championship his second event of the year because of his comfort level at the tournament.

"I'm trying to get back to normalcy," Woods said. "Charlotte has always been one of my favorite tour stops. It's always a treat to play a course like this. It's very similar to a major championship."

Asked about the reception he received from fans, Woods said, "The people here have always been very gracious. The fans really get into the event."

Woods played with Kurt Kimball and Jim Rathburn of the Compass Group. Woods' name was available when they landed the first pick in the Tuesday night draw party so they took the chance to play with him.

"I could hardly get the words out of my mouth," Rathburn said.

Despite the large crowds, Rathburn said the morning round of golf with Woods was unforgettable.

"It was the experience of a lifetime," he said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd have the chance to do this.

"He's been great. He even settled me down a little bit just by talking to me. He was extremely personable."

After his round, Woods paused for about 15 minutes signing autographs. He also stopped two more times -- after a session on the practice tee and the putting green -- to sign.