Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Tiger Behind Closed Doors

Since most people only see Tiger Woods when he is either A) playing in a tournament, B) doing an interview, or C) in a commercial, they often ask me “What is he really like, you know, behind closed doors?” I’ve had the good fortune of dealing with Tiger on a number of occasions during my job on the TOUR, and my answer to this question is…he’s really a normal guy! I’m not trying to sound cliche, because Tiger is anything but normal, but seriously, for someone who is mega-rich, mega-famous and mega-talented, he seems like a very well-adjusted, likeable person. He’s always friendly to the walking scorers and other volunteers in the scoring area (but he won’t sign a golf ball…that’s a steadfast rule). He has a sharp sense of humor, and never seems to put on airs. I’m sure many golf fans have been irritated by a stone-faced, blinders-on Tiger as he strides past hundreds of screaming well-wishers, but please understand, this is what he has to do just to make it out of public situations in one piece. Just ask anyone who is out on TOUR regularly, and they will tell you it’s a completely different atmosphere around Tiger…absolute chaos. To his fellow pros, even though he is very intimidating on the course, he is very approachable off of it and has an agreeable personality that meshes well with most everybody. Tiger is very humble, never overplaying his own success and often giving praise to those guys who gave chase (or sometimes beat him).

After the final round of the 2007 Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines, Tiger was sitting across from me in the scoring area, checking his card following a 66 and his fifth victory in that event. I asked him, “Tiger, just how in the world do you win this thing year after year?” He answered, “Honestly, Charles (Howell III) could’ve won, but I just got some good bounces. I don’t care who you are, you need some lucky breaks to win golf tournaments.” I replied, “Didn’t someone once say that the harder you practice the luckier you get?” To that, Tiger flashed his trademark smile, winked at me, and walked out of the trailer to face the throngs of media and fans. That story describes Tiger in a nutshell…he might be self-effacing, but deep down, he knows he’s the man to beat.

If I were to formulate an equation that summed up Tiger Woods’ golfing prowess, it would be GOD-GIVEN ABILITY + UNRIVALED WORK ETHIC + VAST UNDERSTANDING OF HIS SWING AND THE GAME = TOTAL WORLD DOMINANCE IN GOLF. Stay tuned for more stories about my personal interactions with Tiger and other players out on TOUR.

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