After Tiger Woods played in the Honda Classic pro-am at PGA National, next stop on his schedule? His favorite of the week! — the pre-tourney presser. And it was certainly the most awkward and eventful — by that, I mean, amazing, amusing, greatest, best, etc. — one in recent history (I’m told even better than at the Masters in 2010). The tone and atmosphere were a little tense from the get-go. Probably because T-Dubs was dreading the inevitable questions on his reaction to former swing instructor Hank Haney’s upcoming book “The Big Miss” and the excerpts published on GolfDigest.com on Tuesday.
Obviously, we didn’t waste any time!
What’s your disappointment level (with Haney’s book), Tiger?
“It’s still the same,” he said. “Nothing has changed in that regard at all.”
Three “golf” questions later, ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi gave it a go.
“I’ve already talked about it, Tommy. So, sorry,” said Tiger.
/a little icy and tense, but cordial in comparison
Three more questions later, Alex Miceli, Golfweek writer and Golf Channel regular contributor, aka “The Bow Tie,” wanted some clarification, which brought about what will now be referred to as “THE BIG DISS”:
Q. I’m sorry, the book thing is out there and you guys have commented about it; specifically in regards to being a Navy SEAL and considering being a Navy SEAL during the height of your career, was that something you were considering?
TIGER WOODS: I’ve already talked about everything in the book, yes, I’ve already commented on everything, Alex.
Q. Then I must have missed you answering that question.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I’ve already commented on the book. Is that in the book? Is it in the book?
Q. I don’t know; I haven’t seen the book.
TIGER WOODS: You’re a beauty, you know that. (Smiling).
Q. That’s a fair question, right, you guys are suggesting that there’s something wrong with the excerpts in the book, I’m just trying to find out if that’s true or not.
TIGER WOODS: I don’t know. Have a good day.
Translation: “F*&k off.” I think “Have a good day” is my new favorite Tiger quote. It’s a close call between that and “You’re a beauty.”
Poor Alex is getting killed on the inter-webs…the scribes in here are definitely having some fun on Twitter, but we have his back. I mean, why can’t Tiger answer like a regular person and just say, “Hey, I know you guys have to do your jobs and ask, but I’m not going to talk about the Haney book.” Usually people respond better if you ask nicely and politely — at least in my experience.
Our friends over at The Big Lead have posted the above video of this Emmy-award winning segment (better watch it now before the Tour has it removed!).
Oh, what else did we learn in the presser? The usual — not a whole lot! But here are some tidbits.
*On getting whooped by Chris Couch when he played PGA National in a junior golf tournament: “I think he was 17; I was 14. I believe he had a one-shot lead starting the final day. I turned in 3-under, and I found myself 4-down playing the back nine. I remember bogeying 10. It was over after that, and he ended up shooting 63, I believe. Yeah, he got me pretty good on that day.”
*On the infamous “Bear Trap” (Nos. 15-17): “We had a slightly different wind compared to yesterday. I just remember seeing the guys last year hit hybrids on some of the holes, like 17. Obviously they had a pretty good gale into them. We didn’t quite have it playing that long, but it’s still a pretty good challenge. The par 3s, 15 and 17, are the challenge. And you know, there’s really no bail out. You have to hit a good shot. And I know that, what, 15 has got two different tees, and I don’t know what tee we are going to play, maybe both. But both holes, you just have to commit and hit a good shot. I think the hardest pins are the ones up against the bunker, not the ones along the water. Because if you get the ball in the left bunkers there with the pin along the water, you have the green to work with, just bail out left. You hit into those bunkers with the pin up against it, it’s a really tough bunker shot to get close.
*On how much he practices his short game: ”I certainly have increased chipping and putting now, now that I’ve got the full swing where I like to have it. I can spend the majority of my time chipping and putting. That’s where I know that I’ve been lacking in my game and where I’ve seen the biggest improvement lately, too, which is good. “
*On the rare times he struggled with his putting earlier in his career: “I would say they are different, because I had three different teachers in my full swing. And the full swing is when I was with Butch, Butch wanted me to hinge it much more, because that’s what he used to putt. He’s from the old school; you hinge it and you hit it. Hank was more rotational, and Sean is not as much. There’s a blend to all of that, and ironically enough, when I have to make a putt down the stretch on the back nine, all of that’s out the window and I just putt.
The two putts that I made at the World Challenge to win, I didn’t do any of the stuff, I just looked at it and hit it. I know you’ve got to have certain fundamentals, but also again, if I get in the right posture, as I said, all of that can happen. When I get for some reason, the more the pressure is, when I have to make a putt, for some reason, I tend to revert back into the correct posture. It’s when the heat is not on is when I tend to get a little bit off.
*On all the choke jobs/blown leads this season: “Well, I think it’s nice when you have that cush(ion) because you can make a couple mistakes and still win a golf tournament.
I think when you’re near the lead, more so trailing, and you make those mistakes, you can play yourself right out of it. The beauty of having a lead is that you can make those mistakes and still win. You don’t have to go to overtime; you can still win outright.
“But the only problem is if some guys make a run and they get some momentum going, and you are going the other way, you give them a big shot of energy. You’ve seen some of these guys pull off some pretty good low rounds. It doesn’t take much. If you get off to a poor start and the other guy gets off to a quick start, four or five shots can be made up in a few holes.
“Even I was four or five-down to Sean (O’Hair) at Bay Hill and within a few holes, he just got off to a bad start, I got off to a good start and all of a sudden it’s a moot point. It all depends on the start.
These guys, except for Kyle (Stanley), he lost his on the last hole, but the majority of the guys have done it early; have lost what they had early in the round.”
*On whether there’s a better group of young players now than a decade ago because they have more confidence than the days when Tiger was dominating: “When I was playing at that era, we had Phil, myself, Vijay, Goose and Furyk, and that’s a pretty stout little group. We were winning quite a bit of tournaments during that era.
You know, some of the guys probably didn’t get the same opportunities, and I think now they have gotten those opportunities; they have learned. And plus, also, I see that a lot of these guys are training.
You forget that ten years ago, not everyone was lifting weights, which was crazy to think that golfs didn’t lift weights and prepare, but that wasn’t the case. Now everyone has a trainer out here. Everyone is trying to get stronger, fitter, faster. You see what Westwood’s done, how he’s dropped the weight, trying to get stronger and faster and he’s 38 years old.”
*On the proposal to change the start of the season to the Fall impacting the Chevron World Challenge: “Yeah, it’s going to be interesting for us because of the new championship they are going to have down there in South Africa. Obviously, The Race to Dubai this year, we were predominately American based, and because of The Race to Dubai, kind of affected a lot of the Europeans not playing; a few did play.
But I think that’s just going to be a challenge going forward is that some of these guys are either playing a full-time, full schedule all the way up to The Race to Dubai, and then after that, they want to take a couple of weeks off before they go down to Oz and play three events down there, which some of the guys did, they played late in the year like Luke did, played all the way I think the week before Christmas.
So it all depends on what they want to do and how they are going to prepare the schedule. It’s a tough time with The Race to Dubai, because it really changed a few things for us.”
*On whether he’s hearing more guys say they’re teeing it up to win every time like he’s always said: “Well, I think it’s interesting, because if you’re going into a football game and you said: You know what, I don’t mind finishing top two today; or you go into a baseball game, basketball game, hockey game, that’s fine if we finish second tonight. Would that be crazy to hear that, that type of mentality?
But that’s I grew up playing sports all my life, and I just don’t understand how that type of mentality people are happy with finishing second or anything below that, when you have the opportunity to finish first.”