Tiger Woods returns to plenty of adviceBy Tim Dahlberg
Associated Press LAS VEGAS — Like most of you, I get much of my Tiger Woods news online, delivered directly from the great one himself.
It’s where I learned he was missing the U.S. and British Opens, where I saw pictures of his fancy new practice facility in Florida. It’s where I learned he and Elin would be no longer, and where I found out his caddie had been sent packing.
Right there on TigerWoods.com, where the latest news is that Woods is excited to be back.
“I’m excited to get back out there,” Woods quoted himself as saying.
His followers seem just as excited to see him back, with most wishing him good luck in the comments section of the website. Surely Woods will find some of their words inspirational as he returns this week to try salvaging a season on the brink of slipping away.
They want him to win, though they’re worried about his leg and concerned about life without caddie Stevie Williams. They hope Woods has his killer instinct back, but don’t seem totally convinced he does.
And, unlike the yes men Woods surrounds himself with, they’re not afraid to offer him advice. Most it has absolutely nothing to do with new methods Woods might use to find the fairway with his driver.
“Please be nice in your (replies) to news questions,” wrote one, who obviously tuned in for the final round of the Masters this year. “I know it may be hard, but sometimes you are short and not very nice. That does not do you any good, even if it’s a dumb question. Thanks for listening.”
That may give hope to TV golf interviewers everywhere, but the Internet suggestion box doesn’t stop there. Amateur psychologists seem particularly interested in Woods’ latest comeback, and they’re eager to share their wisdom with him.
“Remember that friends are not always who they seem to be and you should not allow yourself to be hostage to anyone,” wrote one. “You are a free man and if you want to change your caddie, then you have a right just like anyone else to do so. Right now, in my humble opinion, your beloved mother is the only one who has your best interest at heart — so listen to her and you will stay on the straight and narrow.”
Someone identifying himself as the Unknown Comic was more Zen-like in offering his take.
“Son, perform well. Be yourself. Stick to your plan.”
Just what that plan may be, of course, is anyone’s guess. There is no blueprint for overcoming a humiliating scandal, finding yet another new swing, and trying to smash a golf ball more than 300 yards on a leg that could break down on any given swing.
But this is Tiger Woods we’re talking about. Winner of 14 majors. Intimidator of other players. Greatest golfer of his era.
His fans want that Tiger back, not the one who quit after just nine holes of The Players Championship the last time he played for real.
“Now that your physical ability is back, get the attitude back Tiger! Go out there with a chip on your shoulder like you used to have and run away from the pack,” wrote one.
“Smash those clowns!” offered another.
Unfortunately for Woods, those clowns aren’t nearly as clownish anymore. There’s a whole new group of players who don’t feel the urge to bow down in his presence, as the back nine of the Masters showed.
Besides, it’s hard to intimidate anyone when you’re hitting the ball so sideways it ends up on the adjoining hole.
That’s one more reason Woods will be missing Williams, the caddie he teamed up with for 13 of his major championship wins. Not only was Williams a confidant to Woods and a leader in the fight to allow caddies to wear shorts, but he was among the best at clearing a path through fans for his man.
Unfortunately, Woods hasn’t taken to his website to announce his caddie for this week’s Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone, where he has won seven times. We’ll know when he shows up, though the Golf Channel reported it would be Bryon Bell, a childhood friend who allegedly also once made travel arrangements for at least one of Woods’ mistresses.
We’ll also know when he shows up how much facial hair he’ll have, a subject that seems to intrigue his fans just as much as the state of his mind.
“Shave off all of the face hair!” one wrote. “The last thing you need is to look like Charles Barkley!”
“I like your beard sexy and macho,” wrote another. “Keep it that way.”
Proof, perhaps, that whatever Woods does in his latest comeback, he’s not going to please everyone.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg