Having endured a turbulent seven days – in which he provoked the ire of a usually timid press corps and, in missing his first cut of the year, prompted an outbreak of journalistic apostasy (examples here, here and here) – Tiger Woods returned to the media centre this evening to reinvigorate the faith of his once loyal disciples.
Rhetorical miracles weren’t performed, but the unshakable tenets of a philosophy were enumerated, cliché by laborious cliché. This was a press conference of positively catholic dimensions.
“It takes time, takes a lot of reps.”
“Augusta was nice to have happen, actually, in the big scheme of things.”
“I tend to creep back into old patterns, and that’s kind of what happened.”
Hidden amongst the familiar chaff, however, there lurked a few hints of something new. Subtle changes detectable only to the connoisseur of passive-aggressive dialogue: shifts in emphasis, tone, timbre.
Responding to the suggestion that he should go back to just feeling his way around the golf course – the ideological centrepiece of a new, heretical gospel (blame the newly-canonised Saint Peter) – Woods feigned ignorance, refusing even to recognise his interlocutor’s terms of reference.
“As far as getting back to when I was a kid and not having instructors, I’ve always had one. I’ve had my dad, I had Rudy, had John, Butch, Hank and now Sean. So I don’t really understand your question… I’ve always had a coach, so that’s why I have a hard time understanding your question of getting back to something. I’ve always done this. “
Cardinals Faldo and Chamblee, each of whom volunteered diagnoses in conference calls prior to the press conference, were dealt with more ruthlessly.
“Well, I can understand that everyone has an opinion, and [Chamblee's] entitled to his. But he’s no longer playing anymore, so, so be it…”
“[On Faldo] I always find it interesting, since they’re not in my head. They must have some kind of superpower I don’t know about.”
No ceremony would be complete, of course, without quiet reassurance and an appeal to blind faith.
“Guys, I’ve done this before. I’ve been through this. Actually a lot of you guys lived it with me, went through those periods where I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be. I had some pretty good runs after that, and this is no different.”
Woods is scheduled to play his opening rounds in the company of Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler, winner of last week’s Wells Fargo Colloquy.