Tiger Woods, who is making his first start in 2015 on the PGA Tour at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, was in good spirits when he met with the media on Tuesday morning at TPC Scottsdale. Woods discussed a variety of topics, but let’s first address the one that’s most intriguing: The incident involving his missing tooth last week while he was watching his girlfriend Lindsey Vonn set the all-time record for World Cup wins with 63.
On January 19, Woods visited Italy to surprise Vonn and wore a mask that was adorned with a toothy skull figure. When the mask slipped off, there was a gap a couple centimeters wide where his left front tooth (upper incisor) was missing and another tooth was cracked.
Woods’s agent Mark Steinberg released a statement saying that Woods had been hit by a shoulder-mounted video camera by a media member in a mad rush to the winner’s stage. Tiger confirmed this on Tuesday morning.
“Yeah, that didn’t feel very good,” said Woods when asked about the occurrence. “Two different podiums in skiing. When they come down from the run, the top three are always there end of the run. After every race is completed, then they move that up on the hill so all the photographers can do their deal and champagne and whatever it is out there in the middle of the run. Lindsey had finished up. I walked up to the top. I was looking down, and all the camera guys are below me on their knees or moving all around, trying to get a picture because she’s hugging people, saying congratulations to the other racers as they are coming down. Some already finished, some are there already in the changing area.
“Dude with a video camera on his shoulder, right in front of me, kneeling, stood up and turned and caught me square on the mouth. He chipped that one, cracked the other one. And so then, you know, I’m trying to keep this thing so the blood is not all over the place, and luckily he hit the one I had the root canal on. That’s the one that chipped. But the other one had to be fixed, as well, because it had cracks all through it.”
Woods also explained the reason he was wearing the strange mask in the first place: As a disguise.
“I had my mask on so no one knew who I was, trying to blend in, because there is not a lot of brown dudes at ski races, okay?” he cracked, laughing. “Yeah, hey, we blend in, wouldn’t we? So that was the whole idea of why I wore the mask, and then I came up above.”
Woods said he flew home the following day to have dental work done.
“Oh, Jesus, the flight home was a joke,” he said. “I couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink until he fixed them, put the temporaries on. I couldn’t have anything touch it. Even breathing hurt, because any kind of air over the nerve, the tooth that was still alive, was cracked.”
Woods added that the dentist was able to implement permanents already.
Asked if he was surprised at all the attention his tooth incident created, Tiger said wasn’t, but pointed out the real story was about Vonn’s success.
“It’s a new world. We need to talk about something. Have to fill up space. The story is about Lindsey breaking the record. That’s the story.
“I mean, jeez, we all have — every sport you get teeth knocked out, and unfortunately I wasn’t actually competing and got my teeth knocked out.”
Race officials denied the story, claiming there was no report of an account that involved Woods. Tiger deflected questions asking about the naysayers who didn’t believe his story.
“Dude, you guys, it’s just the way the media is,” he said. “It is what it is.”
When informed it wasn’t just the media, Woods replied, “It is just what it is.”
Meanwhile, Woods is making his first start at TPC Scottsdale since 2001 — a place where he’s had several interesting and fond memories, such as the Moving Boulder and an ace on the famed par-3 16th.
Stay tuned for more on Woods and his game — right now, I have to go catch what should be one of the more intriguing pressers of the year with Robert Allenby’s…