ARDMORE, Pa. – By this point, after all these years, Tiger Woods has heard pretty much every media question imaginable.
Which is why it was so surprising – and fun – to see him stunned into silence during his press conference on Tuesday.
"The U.S. Open is usually one of the most grueling weeks of golf," offered a young woman seated amid the mob in the media tent. "So what would you do off the course in order to be at ease and relax?"
Not a hard-hitting question, but it came from a member of the media Woods knows quite well: his niece, Cheyenne Woods.
For a brief moment, Tiger was silent amid the chuckles of those in the room who recognized the questioner. Then he broke into a huge grin.
"Didn't expect that," he said.
Then he played along.
"Well, off the course, we have a great crew at the house and we're going to have fun," he began. "Tomorrow, make sure you're – is it 6:30 dinner? Is that all right? Okay. Perfect."
Cheyenne beamed and fleshed a Cheshire grin even after the press dispersed. Tiger was caught unprepared, and Cheyenne seemed to revel in that.
"I don't think he knew I was going to be at the press conference today," she told a few reporters as she exited. "I think I was the last person he was expecting."
It wasn't the only disarming moment of the press conference. Cheyenne's uncle was also asked (by another reporter) about the legacy of Charlie Sifford, one of the relatively few African-American legends in golf. It was Sifford, now 91, who helped desegregate the sport.
"I know my dad probably wouldn't have picked up the game if it wasn't for what Charlie did," Woods said. "I've always called him my grandpa, the grandpa I never really had. I've gotten to know him through the years and it's been fantastic. We owe a lot to him and all the pioneers that have paved the way for us to be here."
Although that answer came before Cheyenne's question, the two responses nicely linked the most famous golfer in the world with both the past and the future.
Cheyenne Woods, who will be 23 next month, majored in communications at Wake Forest and she is writing for a golf website called Back9Network.com, which is affiliated with USA Today. She qualified for the U.S. Women's Open last year and played in her first LPGA Championship.
She will be covering the entire U.S. Open this week, and apparently she'll get the kind of access every reporter dreams of: dinner on the eve of the U.S. Open with Tiger Woods.
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