ADARE, Ireland – After another warm welcome from the Irish public, Tiger Woods turned curt and dismissive at a news conference Tuesday when asked about his state of mind since the sex scandal that has wrecked his image.
Woods was questioned after his 3-under 69 in his final round of the charity J.P. McManus Invitational Pro-Am, his first foreign appearance since the turmoil began Nov. 17 when he crashed his car near his home in Windermere, Fla.
When asked whether his liaisons with other women had been “worth it” for the effects on his marriage and endorsements, Woods replied, “I think you’re looking too deep into this.” He torpedoed the follow-up question with an icily firm “Thank you.”
Woods is returning immediately to his Florida home rather than heading to Scotland to prepare for next week’s British Open at St. Andrews, one of his favorite courses and where he won Opens in 2000 and 2005. Once the subject was broached, the previously easy-speaking Woods flipped a switch into staccato half-sentences.
How will you prepare? “Practicing.”
Why not try and play some links golf in Scotland beforehand? “I need to get home.” Silence.
Why? “See my kids.” Silence.
Throughout the 15-minute news conference, Woods had to parry various attempts at a comment on how his apparent marital troubles might be affecting his game.
“There are times in one’s life when things get put in perspective, one being when my father passed, and obviously what I’ve been going through lately,” he said in his most expansive reply.
But when asked again whether he was finding personal worries overshadowing his game, Woods clearly had enough.
“Everything’s working itself out,” he said.
When asked whether that meant his troubles might be undermining his golf, Woods descended into glum-eyed silence, offering an expression somewhere between a grimace and a frown.
Out on the Adare Manor Golf Course, Woods felt nothing but love and admiration from the more than 20,000 fans who lined the course five-deep to watch his every drive, approach shot and putt.
Armed with a full night’s sleep, Woods breezed through a course that had befuddled him Monday, when he shot 7-over 79 to fall near the bottom of the field of 54 professionals.
His Irish caddie, silver-haired car dealer Arthur Pierse, said Woods was exhausted Monday after flying overnight from the AT&T National outside Philadelphia, where he finished 46th. He climbed back into the middle of the pack Tuesday.
Darren Clarke finished first after shooting a 68 for a two-day score of 3-under 141. Woods finished seven shots back, tied for 24th with six others.
Every five years, Irish billionaire McManus persuades many of the world’s top golfers to join his charity event in Adare, where three-member teams of amateurs pay $155,000 for the chance to play alongside the pros.
On Tuesday, Woods attacked the outward nine, birdieing three holes and narrowly missing others when putts clipped the hole. He barely missed an eagle on the seventh, the first par-5 target. The day before, the same hole dinged him for a double bogey into a pond.
Woods’ game suffered once the weather took a decidedly Irish turn at the 10th hole. Drab gray skies that previously offered soft rain deteriorated into an in-your-face icy shower. Woods, setting aside his umbrella for rushed shots, left his approach short into a bunker, then pushed the following blast 8 feet right of the hole. Woods slapped his wedge into the sand and groaned before two-putting for his day’s first bogey.
Woods dallied at a gourmet sausage vendor – where he inquired about what a Cumberland sausage was before opting instead for a bunless burger – until the rain eased. At the 11th, a par-3 230-yarder offering a straight shot across the River Maigue to the green, Woods planted the ball 8 feet from the hole, then nailed the putt for another birdie.
Woods did it again on the par-4 14th, covering most of the 444 yards on his drive, then planting the ball 2 feet from the cup for another birdie.
But just like Monday, Woods couldn’t conjure any magic in his approach to the par-5, 548-yard 18th in front of the fans’ main stands. He tried again to cross the river in two shots but again put the ball into the water for his final bogey.
Among the thousands who came to see Woods was Marie O’Sullivan, a 32-year-old high school teacher who snapped pictures as he passed the 18th fairway.
She said her County Kerry village did a recent dramatization of Woods’ personal troubles, an earthy variety show called “Pride of the Parish,” featuring Woods and wife Elin Nordegren in marriage counseling. In the show, she said, the couple mended their troubles with help of a counselor.
“If only life imitated art,” said O’Sullivan, who played the role of Nordegren in the revue.