Famously bland with the media since he was burned in a “GQ” interview years ago telling off-color jokes, Tiger Woods has spent the last decade or so using various clichés to tell us scribes, more or less: “Hey, media, tell me how my majors taste.”
That’s why it was such a surprise to see Woods let loose with some ad-lib behavior behind a microphone on Sunday. His decision, as host of the AT&T National, to “interview” the winner of the AT&T National, led to a bit that – by Tiger’s standards – was the equivalent of Will Ferrell’s enthusiastic cry of “Hey, everybody, we’re going STREAKING!” in “Old School.”
Hence, we saw Tiger, clad in Sunday red and holding a trophy, ask himself: “Tiger, how did you play today?” And then we saw Tiger step into the role of interviewee, and answer with a few pat lines while the audience politely laughed. It wasn’t exactly Lenny Bruce getting arrested in San Francisco in the early '60s, but for Tiger it counted as an uber-relaxed moment. You’d almost have thought he’d won a major this year, he seemed so happy.
The only thing missing was more of the interview. I mean, we get more than one or two Tiger self-interview questions, right? Thanks to some key investigative reporting at Yahoo! Sports, the tape has been delivered by clandestine sources, who ask only that they be paid in range balls. Without further ado:
Tiger the Interviewer: So, you won for the third time this year at a landmark tournament – Arnold Palmer’s, Jack Nicklaus’ and now your own. What does that prove?
Tiger the Player: I perform my best when the lights are brightest. That’s how I roll.
Tiger the Interviewer: You mean like this year at Augusta National, when Lefty outplayed you? Or this year at Bethpage, when you let a guy named Lucas Glover win the national championship?
Tiger the Player: I don’t like the tone of your question. We may have to cut this interview short.
Tiger the Interviewer: OK, I’ll stay away from the tough ones. Did you fear Anthony Kim in the final twosome on Sunday?
Tiger the Player: That’s rich. Do you have a serious question?
Tiger the Interviewer: So the media hype about A.K. being your next rival was overblown?
Tiger the Player: (stifling yawn) Who are we talking about again?
Tiger the Interviewer: You seem to be driving the ball much better this year. Is that because your knee is healthier?
Tiger the Player: Quite perceptive. My driving accuracy – at 64 percent – is at its highest since 2002. Thank you for noticing.
Tiger the Interviewer: When you play from the fairway, you’re pretty much unbeatable, aren’t you?
Tiger the Player: Again, thank you for noticing. I like your line of questioning.
Tiger the Interviewer: Your good pal Roger Federer won Wimbledon on Sunday, his 15th major, passing Pete Sampras as the winner of most majors. Did he text you and tell you that if you don’t win a major soon, he may have to drop you from his Rolodex?
Tiger the Player: So, you’re trying to be funny? You’re some kind of comedian?
Tiger the Interviewer: I don’t get it, though. You’re driving it better than at any time in the last seven years, your knee is healthy for the first time in years, and yet you didn’t capitalize on chances at the Masters and U.S. Open. What gives?
Tiger the Player: Who writes your questions, nimrod? What are you, a member of the media? I may have to call Stevie over here to break your pen in half.
Tiger the Interviewer: Sorry, but I just was a little hesitant to jump on the Tiger-wins-the-British-next-week-at-Turnberry bandwagon until I see you make more key putts. Until then, I’m on the search for the next Angel Cabrera or Lucas Glover.
Tiger the Player: Is there a question in that statement? Or is this interview over?
Tiger the Interviewer: I was just pointing out that you’ve always been the greatest clutch putter of your time, but you missed some at Augusta and Bethpage and some wonder if at age 33 the putting nerves aren’t as pure as at age 25 and …
Tiger the Player: Go ahead. Bet against me. And by the way, see if I come play your crummy little tournament again. (shouting in distance) Stevie! Fire up the G-4! Time to fly to Scotland and get me a jug!
SCORECARD OF THE WEEK
62-70-68-71 – 271, Anthony Kim, 3rd place, AT&T National, Congressional Country Club.
Early in the day on Sunday, CBS’ Nick Faldo unwittingly channeled the former Police frontman Sting when he said that Kim would be “playing with his scholar,” Tiger Woods, in the final round, and that the ensuing drama would be instructive. It called to mind the lyrics from the Police tune “Wrapped Around Your Finger.”
I have only come here seeking knowledge,
Things they would not teach me of in college …
See, Kim was supposed to be the “young apprentice” of which Sting sings, and in the end of the song, in a bit of overwritten Sting lyricism (which, by the way, in retrospect serves as a warning for some of his later navel-gazing solo albums), climaxes:
I will turn your flesh to alabaster,
Then you’ll find your servant is your master …
And all that was supposed to translate to Kim slaying the great Tiger in the final twosome on Sunday, thus fulfilling the prophecy that he is, indeed, The Great Tiger Challenger we’ve all been waiting for.
He then could knock down all those votive candles, like Sting did in the Police video, and our analogy would be complete.
By the time Kim three-whipped for bogey on No. 5, missed a 6-foot birdie try on 7 and missed a 2-foot par putt on 8, another song from another British group was more applicable.
Somebody cue up Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.”
Kim’s timid 71 opposite Tiger’s bold 67 was not just the 17th consecutive time Tiger has finished ahead of Kim in a stroke play tournament – chew on that stat for a while – it was a damning indictment of Kim’s readiness to challenge the throne.
Last year, I darn near caused my slice of cyberspace on Yahoo! to melt down with the hyperboles I tossed Kim’s way. He was the first American under the age of 25 to post two wins in the same year in the Tiger Era, and he had the insouciance and golf swing to seem like he was the one to stare down Tiger, at least once or twice.
Instead, on Sunday at Congressional, he looked like just another batch of Sergio Garcia-flavored road kill.
Do me a favor, please. Have somebody install a buzzer in my laptop that allows a brief electrical jolt to course through my body if I ever declare anybody “The Next Great Tiger Challenger.” There are none. It’s all Tiger, all the time, and if it’s not, it’s a Lucas Glover or Trevor Immelman bit of fate until Tiger wins the next one.
MULLIGAN OF THE WEEK
Eunjung Yi won the Jamie Farr Classic, her first LPGA Tour win, and beat the spunky Morgan Pressel in a playoff to do so, and we congratulate young Yi for a great triumph.
That said, we’re not so sure her Pops joins her in the congratulations.
Yi’s father runs a Korean BBQ restaurant in Temecula, Calif., and Yi said on Saturday that if she won the Jamie Farr, food at Pops’ diner would be free for all comers.
That sounds great and all, and is incredibly generous of young Yi, but as her Dad might have been thinking, way down deep: Hey, sweetheart. There’s a recession on. How about promising them just a free side dish or a soda?
Somebody needs to take Yi aside, explain to her the vagaries of the market economy and … give that young lady a mulligan!
BROADCAST MOMENT OF THE WEEK
“It’s dark in there.” – CBS’ David Feherty, describing a thicket of trees on the receiving end of Anthony Kim’s tee shot on 6 at Congressional.
On one level, he was referring to the evil forest that gobbled up Kim’s tee shot. On the other level, he was referring to the part of Kim’s psyche we were entering as he began to realize Tiger was never going to go away, at any point, on Sunday.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
It’s the traditional pre-British Open John Deere Classic, because nothing says Turnberry like tractors in the Midwest. That said, our main focus will be the U.S. Women’s Open – because I may road trip to Temecula for some free grub if young Yi calls her shot again.