Tiger Woods avoids causing “international incident” in Turkey (sort of)
By Stephanie Wei under European PGA Tour
Tiger hitting ball from west to east

Tiger hitting ball from west to east

Tiger Woods is competing in the inaugural Turkish Airlines Open on the European Tour this week. He’s been paid a lot of money to show up and play some golf, so he had some sponsor responsibilities, like a photo shoot on the Bosphorous bridge, where he hit balls from Europe into Asia. 

Believe it or not, he was quite nervous for the publicity stunt, which is understandable given the narrow fairway and the conditions. It was also his first time hitting balls on a bridge — he’s done the whole airport runway thing before, though. He had just flown 12 hours, hopped off his plane and then had to “hit driver down the narrowest fairway” he’s ever seen. 

“The wind was coming off the left a little bit, all these cars were driving on the right, so if I lose any balls to the right, there’s an international incident right there,” said Woods, laughing. “So that was a little bit nerve‑wracking.  Trust me, every ball drew.  But it was pretty cool.  I think somebody was telling me I hit one 550 meters or something like that, so, not bad.”

Here’s a video of Tiger hitting balls from the bridge:

And there almost might have been an “international incident” from the sounds of this angry commuter…

Let’s take a look at the highlights from the rest of his his presser:

*On Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia, among others, not playing in Turkey and/or Dubai because they felt they were being forced to play in 2 out of 3 in the Final Series (the European Tour’s version of the FedExCup): 

“You have to play two‑out‑of‑three, three out of four, to get to the final.  You have to understand a lot of those guys are also full‑fledged members on our tour, as well, and they are playing a full schedule, plus what we have to do all the way through our Playoffs; and then International guys one year and European guys the next year have to play Cups post the FedExCup.

“And then I think basically have to go to Asia for a couple weeks and then obviously to the Middle East.  So there’s a lot of golf to be played through that stretch and I think some of the guys are a little worn out.

“Even some of the guys like I know Adam used to play The European Tour, I don’t know if he does anymore, but guys like Ernie, Charl, they go back home and support their home tours, as well, down in South Africa.  So they are playing year‑round, nonstop.  They are playing a global game.

“Not everyone plays around the world all the time but there are a handful of guys who do.  And Ernie is probably, of my generation of guys, someone who has travelled more than anyone to play golf, and I can certainly understand where he’s coming from.”

*On Vijay Singh’s lawsuit against the PGA Tour, where his attorneys have evidence that the Tour has not been applying the drug test fairly across the board — with some people having tested positive and in others, giving them lenient fines versus harsher penalties for other players and whether he has any concerns about this claim: 

“I’ve never heard it until you just said that.  I know that we get regularly tested throughout the year.  I think it’s‑‑ I may have been tested like five times this year.  That’s usually about the number for most guys.  But that’s all I’ve heard about it until you just mentioned it.”

*On the state of his game heading into this week:

“Well, I have to say that when I played against Rory, I was a little bit on the rusty side, because I really had not touched a club for a couple of weeks.  After The Presidents Cup, I shut it down.  We played, and actually I started getting better as the day went on.  I think I shot 5‑under par.  So that wasn’t too bad.  Obviously clipped me by a shot.

“But I’ve been playing in Singapore and doing some exhibitions there, as well as in Macau.  So I’ve been playing a little golf.  The rust is starting to come off a little bit and going to do a little bit of work today.”

*On choosing to skip the WGC-HSBC Champions last week and opting to play in exhibitions instead:

“Independent contractor.”

[Fair enough — being a freelancer makes me an independent contractor, too, so I’m free to choose my own schedule for the most part with which events I want to cover. I’d like to do them all, but that’s just not possible and sometimes I get a hard time from people for not going here or there, etc. YOU CAN’T DO THEM ALL (and sometimes you have to make economical choices.]

*On golf being relatively new in Turkey and the impact Tiger has had on the growth of the game in the country: 

“Well, I think it’s exciting for me as a player to have seen certain countries develop and get involved in the game of golf; Turkey being one of them, and the other one, as we have all seen is the impact China’s had.  I went there, what, 12 years ago for the first time and to see the amount of kids with clubs in their hands and the amount of kids with really good swings, it’s just staggering.

“And Turkey is trying to do the same.  I mean, you can’t have this happen unless you get the government behind it, and we’ve seen it in certain countries like Sweden, they have done it, where they have had the government provide subsidizing to these junior golf programs and amateur golf programs and they travel all around the south of Europe and they play in all of these team matches and tournaments, and they gain experience.

“Without the government support and trying to drive this, I don’t think it would happen.  But I think that what’s really changed a lot in our landscape is the inclusion of the Olympics.  Countries that haven’t really traditionally been golf countries are now getting involved in it and getting behind it, and they want to have their country’s athletes represented in the Olympics to try and get a medal.

“It certainly has‑‑ we certainly have seen that in China and I’m sure we’ll see that in other places around the world, as well.”

*On his thoughts on Brandel Chamblee’s interview on Golf Channel last week and whether he’s received a personal apology from him:

“Well, I’ve said everything I’m going to say.  I talked to Bernie (McGuire) about it when I was in Hainan Island, and that’s it.”

*On speaking with Tom Watson before the Ryder Cup this upcoming year to make sure the air is cleared between them since Watson has spoken out critically of Woods in the past:

“No, we haven’t spoken yet.  I’m sure we will.  Still got a another year‑plus, probably about a year or, so right, till then. I’m sure there’s a lot of time between now and then that we can sit down and talk.”


Woods tees off at 11:05 local time with Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose, the top two ranked players in the field for the Race to Dubai standings.

*Update: Oh, due to storms in Turkey, there’s been a three-hour delay.

(AP Photo)