I’m a little hesitant to admit I actually watched what some media members have dubbed as “Tiger’s hostage video” (which is published here ) more than once without dozing off — and this is coming from a person who can barely see straight after driving through the night from New Orleans to Charlotte (yes, play those tiny violins, please!). It was a tough fight and touch-and-go at times, but I made it.
I only got through because I wanted to spare you from spending those precious 14 minutes and 18 seconds of your time in more interesting ways, like reading this post and sharing your insights/opinions.
In lieu of holding his customary pre-tournament media conference at Quail Hollow this week, Woods and his PR team decided to protect Tiger from the vicious reporters and stage a fan Q&A, with Woods answering approved questions via a taped video.
In all seriousness, it wasn’t that bad, but it felt like Tiger was reading from a teleprompter. It certainly wasn’t the first time he had seen those questions and maybe I’m mistaken — I would ask him, but he’s not holding a presser! — but it appeared he had notes jotted down, like a cheat sheet, and there’s nothing wrong with that (most pros in the biz have note cards when conducting on-camera stuff).
Give Tiger credit for trying really, really hard to sound natural and act genuinely interested in the questions and trying to engage viewers. Well, it is Tiger and he actually kind of acts like that when he’s not just hanging out with his buddies.
I’ll also say Tiger this: there were glimpses of good answers, but when you don’t have a chance to ask a follow-up, well, that can be frustrating. Once again, this was for the fans, not the press! That’s debatable because the golf media sure is having fun mocking the 14-time major champ on Twitter, including links to YouTube videos of watching paint dry. Hey, Tiger and his people set themselves up for the backlash.
Look, I think it’s fantastic he took the time to “interact” with fans in recorded video — it is all about the fans, after all, and not a proverbial middle finger to the press because Tiger can’t handle fielding questions that he perceives as criticism — but here’s my original take on the whole concept: No reason why Tiger can’t do the Q&A and keep his routine visit to the press center. By trying to take control, it seems like he’s losing more control.
Now I took some time to transcribe *most* of the 14 minute, 18 second video, because I’m a masochist. I skipped a few, but you get the gist. This first question sure throws Tiger a curve ball!
*How many practice rounds will you play on each course?
“At Quail Hollow, I’ll probably play the Pro-Am on Wednesday, and at the Players, I’ll play Monday and Tuesday and be ready for both of them Thursday.”
*What have you been working on since Masters?
“I was struggling with my ball striking a little bit, and Sean (Foley) and I fixed it. It had to do with my posture. My set-up wasn’t quite right, along with my takeaway. We just did hundreds of reps to get it dialed in.” Hear that? Reps! To be fair, something as simple as the poor posture can indeed make a golfer throw fits and lose his confidence if it’s off…
*Which was your most memorable Players and why?
“Probably the one I won in ’01. That was a fun year. I had a nice putt on No. 17 that I made on Saturday. Also 2000, even though I lost, it was a fun duel between Hal (Sutton) and myself. It went into Monday. I was three down with three to go and I made eagle on No. 16 and made Hal have to work for it in the last couple of holes. Even though I lost, it was a lot of fun.”
*Favorite shot at Sawgrass?
“It’s gotta be that putt on No. 17 back in ’01 on Saturday afternoon…double-breaking putt quite a bit. What made that putt interesting was Fred Funk was in the group ahead of us and I watched him four-putt that hole. I knew how quick it was because I just watched him do the same thing, so I was just trying to make sure I kept my putt on the green so I could at least give myself a chance to two-putt and not lose any shots on the hole. For some reason, it was better than most putt and it went in.”
*What do you think is the coolest looking trophy of the four majors?
“For me, it’s the British Open. I just think the Claret Jug and the history and what it represents — every single great champion has played in the British Open. Not everyone has played in the Masters since it didn’t come around until the ’30s, but everyone has played in the Open Championship. And if you’re lucky enough to have won the Open Championship at St. Andrews, it’s as good as it gets. To come up the last hole at the home of golf — it’s the biggest fairway in golf, but just to have the R&A Building behind the green, the Old Town on the right, it’s one of the coolest sights in all of golf…” OK, fact, totally agree.
*What is in those little bottles you chug on the course?
“Electrolytes. I get them from Fuse and I drink them throughout the day and try to keep my electrolytes up and it’s hot out there usually.” Fuse sponsor mention! So sneaky.
*Enjoy watching your videos from the Oven, do you have any new products you’re testing coming out in the future?
“I’m still working on hitting the ball. I’m playing all Nike clubs. All 14 are Nike clubs. I do testing quite a bit throughout the year. I’m only doing testing when I’m hitting the ball well. I don’t think it’s a good time to test when you’re not hitting the ball well because it’s hard to get any kind of judge…I always make sure I’m dialed in before I’m testing, so we have a benchmark of what I’m testing…” All 14 are Nike! Here I thought they were Mizuno irons with Nike logos…
*You won Quail Hollow in 2007, how different would winning it this year be than winning it back then?
“It’d feel just as good. (Big smile) Winning is winning. It’s been a few years since I’ve won and I’d like to get back in that winner’s circle there. I love the golf course and I love what John Harris has done for the event. He’s getting a PGA there and maybe a Ryder Cup down the road. What he’s done for golf in general is just phenomenal. That’s why all the players go and support the event. It’s a great golf course but also what John does for the game of golf.”
*What is the difference between Bay Hill and the Masters?
“I hit the ball well at Bay Hill. I drove it great. I was really consistent with my irons. My speed on my greens was pretty good. At Augusta, I just wasn’t quite there. My posture was just a little off. My takeaway was hands off because my posture was off. I fixed those little things in the past couple of weeks.” Get outta here!
*Anxious about returning to competition?
“Yeah, absolutely. I took a full week off, I didn’t touch a club for a week. Last couple of weeks I got back into it, gradually, and started to ramp up my practice schedule and practice time. I feel very excited about playing. The things Sean and I have been working on I just need to implement and get more comfortable with it and that just comes with reps. I hit the ball great yesterday when I was out practicing, so I’ll go out today and improve on it.”
*Do you have a good chance of winning?
“I feel if I can do the things we’ve been working on, yes, absolutely. If I can get my posture and takeaway dialed in, then yes, I feel like I have a good chance. I’m going to a golf course I like in Charlotte and I’ve won there before. The very next week is a tournament I’ve also won at, so I’m looking forward to those two events. They’re two ball striking events. You have to hit the ball really well there to give yourself a chance and make a few putts at the same time and I’m really looking forward to that.”
*What do you think about the U.S. Open at Olympic?
“I know they’re putting in a new bunker on No. 17 at Olympic — a little close to tournament time. Playing Nos. 17 and 16 as par-5s is something I haven’t done before. It’ll be different to play 17 as a par-5. When I played in ’98, it was a par-4. It’ll be interesting to see it as a par-5, and I never played it as a par-5 even all my years at Stanford..”
There were a few more questions asking about his most memorable putts, whether he’s had an albatross, whether he rotates between a 2-iron and 5-wood in his bag and why, and how much of his swing is designed to protect his knee, etc.
I know many of you watch his pressers online and on Golf Channel. Did that video Q&A suffice your appetite? Or would you like it complemented by Tiger gracing us with his presence in the interview room, where he can’t hand-pick questions? C’mon, *The Glare* is such a nice touch, and when he’s in good spirits, we actually learn something. Or when he feels like sounding off on a topic, he will, albeit rarely.
So many unanswered questions!