Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tiger At St. Andrews: Talk Of Kids And New Putter

The great Tiger Woods inquisition in his pre-tournament interview at the Open Championship today at St. Andrews was a bit like the weather at the Old Course the past two days -- relatively docile.

His 20-minute question-and-answer session never turned testy, though it got chilly at moments. It was clear the British press was more interested in his personal life than American writers, one questioner asking if Woods is willing to "cut out all those tantrums this week and respect the home golf."

Woods was succinct but not curt, saying "I'm trying to become a better player and a better person, yes."

In fact, the biggest revelation was Woods' admission that he has changed putters this week, the first time since 1999 he has had something other than his Scotty Cameron putter in his bag. Woods is putting a Nike putter, similar in appearance, into play this week because he's always struggled on slow greens and he likes the way the new one helps him on the Old Course greens.

What was most striking, however, was what Woods said and didn't say when he talked about the time he spends with his children. He was asked about his travel schedule which took him to Ireland last week then back home to Florida for a few days before returning to Scotland on Sunday.

"I have two beautiful kids and I'm trying to be the best dad I can possibly be. That's the most important thing of all," Woods said. "I went home and had a great time with my kids. It was an incredible experience to hang out with them. We had a great time."

There was no mention of his wife, Elin, an omission noted by everyone in the room. When asked if reports his divorce is being finalized, Woods gave his standard response, saying "I'm not going to go into that."

There were plenty of questions about how Woods' personal life has intruded on his golf but it never felt confrontational. He's made it clear what he will and won't talk about and he was significantly more expansive when talking about golf than when asked about other things. He confirmed he spent two hours talking to federal officials about the investigation of Dr. Anthony Galea, who helped his recovery from knee surgery, but said he couldn't say any more because it's an ongoing investgation.

When Woods walked into the interview room, the sound of dozens of cameras firing fiilled the tight quarters. Every seat was filled and reporters kneeled in the aisles to listen to what Woods had to say. When he'd take a sip of water, the cameras would click again.

He said he doesn't think his public image will have any impact on how he plays this week at St. Andrews -- why would it? -- and when asked if a victory this week would provide some level of redemption, Woods smiled.

"I would like to win no matter what," he said. "It would be nice. It would be really nice."


Anonymous said...

It would be nice for him to win, but it's not going to happening. Way too many distractions, new putter, out of sync swing, etc. The tour is no longer intimidated by Tiger.
Look for the young guns and the Euros to make a strong showing at St Andrews. Rorie, Graeme, Poulter and maybe Phil are all playing great this year.

therestofthestory said...

I wondered when Tiger would go to a different putter. He needs to also consider a different driver. Nike just has not figured out how to get around the TaylorMade patent.

Anonymous said...

I thought his putter was what got him in trouble.