Tiger Woods's absence from the game since missing the cut at the PGA Championship in August has allowed many other good stories to surface. But he's the big story this week because he's teeing it up at the Frys.com Open in San Martin, Calif.
I learned a good story about Tiger this week and thought I'd pass it on. It comes from TSN's James Duthie. He mentioned the story in a piece he wrote in the current issue of Sports Media Canada's journal.
Duthie wrote the piece in conjunction with his receiving the George Gross Award for Outstanding Broadcasting during Sports Media Canada's annual luncheon Oct. 3rd at Toronto's Royal York Hotel. Steve McCallister, now the managing editor, sports, for Yahoo! Canada and before that the Globe's sports editor for eight years, is the organization's president. I attended the luncheon, and, as usual, it was an excellent event.
So, to Tiger. Duthie was at the 2002 Masters when he found himself in the clubhouse on Saturday. The only other people in the room were Tiger's mother Tida, and his then girlfriend Elin Nordegren. Tiger walked in and Duthie felt a bit uneasy because he was the only person there besides them. He went upstairs to one of the small washrooms in the clubhouse to take care of business. Who walks in but Tiger? Duthie and Tiger, side by side at the urinals. The washroom had only three, so he was neck and neck with Tiger. Something like that.
"So, I see Tiger next to me and I say to myself, 'what am I going to say?'" Duthie writes. "It's Tiger Woods. It's the Saturday morning of the Masters. So I said good luck while Tiger was unzipping his pants. Without missing a beat, Tiger chuckled and said, 'I should be okay. I do this several times a day.'"
Duthie was surprised, to say the least. He refers to Tiger as a "stone cold killer" on the course. But the stone cold killer had a witty retort to Duthie's good luck wishes.
Here's another Tiger story. I was at a Nike event in the late fall of 2007 at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla., where Tiger was introducing a product. This was a few months after Mike Weir had beaten him in their singles match at the Presidents Cup at the Royal Montreal Golf Club. Tiger said he had hit hardly a single shot since then. He conducted a clinic for a small group, and took questions.
Somebody asked Tiger what his range was with a four-iron. Tiger raked a ball in front of him, got into his address position with the club, took a full backswing, and then came almost to a dead stop at the ball. He tapped the ball a few feet. He then made a full backswing and a full downswing and smashed the ball some 240 yards.
"I guess that's my range with a four-iron," Tiger said. Everybody laughed.
That was then, and this is now. We'll see what stories emerge during Tiger's return to competition this week.
ALSO FROM LORNE RUBENSTEIN:
Lorne Rubenstein has written a golf column for The Globe and Mail since 1980. He has played golf since the early 1960s and was the Royal Canadian Golf Association's first curator of its museum and library at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario and the first editor of Score, Canada's Golf Magazine, where he continues to write a column and features. He has won four first-place awards from the Golf Writers Association of America, one National Magazine Award in Canada, and, most recently, he won the award for the best feature in 2009 from the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. Lorne has written 11 books, including The Natural Golf Swing, with George Knudson (1988); Links: An Insider's Tour Through the World of Golf (1990); The Swing, with Nick Price (1997); The Fundamentals of Hogan, with David Leadbetter (2000); A Season in Dornoch: Golf and Life in the Scottish Highlands (2001); Mike Weir: The Road to the Masters (2003); A Disorderly Compendium of Golf, with Jeff Neuman (2006); and his latest, This Round's on Me (2009). He is a member of the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. Lorne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can now follow him on Twitter @lornerubenstein