Tiger lightens up at Congressional
BETHESDA, Md. — Tiger Woods’ knee is fine. The family’s fine. The preparations for his tournament are fine and this time he is actually set to play.
With no drama about him for a change, it was a good day for Woods to pop off some one-liners on a rainy Monday at Congressional Country Club while doing his promotional bit as host of the AT&T National.
So, what about Charles Barkley’s swing?
“Charles’ swing, it certainly is interesting. It’s like a speech impediment,” said Woods, whose coach, Hank Haney, has been working with Barkley on Haney’s Golf Channel show. “It can’t get any worse. It can only get better.”
Another probing question: Does Woods speak Swedish around the house? (It’s the native tongue of his wife, Elin.)
“I speak a little. It’s not very good,” Woods said. “I’m better at reading than I am anything else. Or ‘Take out the trash’ or ‘Clean the house,’ ‘Wash dishes,’ I understand those.”
And what about Michael Jordan’s game?
“Better than Charles’,” Woods said with a laugh. “When I first played MJ at Chicago, his first round wasn’t very good. Shot 88. His next round, 73. So obviously I got suckered in. Learned my lesson. It all depends where I put the wager on the number, what he’s going to shoot.”
Woods was soaking in the sights and sounds at Congressional as he promoted the third edition of his tournament that will take place July 2-5. Woods will be back in the field after staying home last year while recuperating from knee surgery.
“I was on the couch. I was watching it, blowing up everyone’s phone,” Woods said. “I wanted to find out everything that was going on, I missed it so much.”
The tournament’s two previous champions, K.J. Choi (2007) and Anthony Kim (2008) have also committed to play this year, along with Ernie Els, who won the U.S. Open at Congressional in 1997.
The legendary Blue Course will host the Open again in 2011 and will need at least a year of preparation, so Woods’ tournament will take a hiatus from the Washington area for the next two years. It will be played at Aronimink Golf Club in suburban Philadelphia in 2010 and 2011.
Still, Woods’ hope is that Congressional eventually becomes the permanent home of his tournament.
“We want to come back and play here as long as Congressional wants us,” he said.
Sitting next to Woods at a packed, camera-filled news conference can be a daunting experience. Congressional president Tim Sullivan totally lost his train of thought during his introductory remarks, called the experience “nerve-racking” and tried to recover by saying, “Just like missing a putt, Tiger.”
“Done a lot of that lately,” Woods said with another laugh.
Later, Woods elaborated on the state of his game. His nine-month layoff had a greater effect on his ability to practice the long game, but everything was just a little off during the first three rounds of the Masters earlier this month. Woods’ final-round comeback wasn’t enough and he finished in a tie for sixth.
“I was just a fraction off,” Wood said. “I didn’t putt well until Sunday. Being a fraction off, I do mean a fraction. How many times did I hit a shot that was one yard off? And one yard is 30, 40 feet at Augusta, it just takes the wrong side of the slope. It just seemed to be happening all week. ... Hopefully the next tournament I play I’ll be a little sharper.”