By the time the pro-am is over. Woods, between learning the course, helping his amateur playing partners and signing autographs, is bushed. Back at the Regency he plops down on the couch with his usual takeout from McDonald's: quarter pounder with cheese, fries and a strawberry shake. He turns on the TV and watches the Atlanta Braves versus the Houston Astros. "I loved baseball," he says, getting into the game by guessing the pitch and location of Braves ace Greg Maddux's deliveries. A little later Woods is ready to call it a day. "I know one thing." he says, closing his eyes. "When I get my Tour card, I'll never play five weeks in a row again." He is in bed by 9:30 p.m., almost 12 hours in advance of his starting time the next day.
THURSDAY: Whatever inertia Woods might have felt earlier in the week, he is ready when the bell rings. On his first hole he makes a 10-footer for a birdie. On his 14th hole, the 565-yard, par-5 5th, Woods smashes two drivers into a strong wind to reach the front fringe, but then mishits a six-iron chip and pushes the 12-footer for birdie. Angry, he snaps his fist against his thigh and curses. He birdies the next hole and doesn't mishit a shot the rest of the way. After a 68 that leaves him two strokes off the lead. Woods says, "I got mad back there for a reason. I could feel myself getting complacent, probably because I've been on the road so long. I had to snap out of it and use anger for some energy. I did the same thing at lunch during the final at the Amateur when I was five down, throwing my hat around and swearing. If you do it right, you can channel the anger."
Woods signs autographs for a four-deep crowd of mostly young people that includes many African-Americans. One teenage girl yells, "Tiger, I love you!" When Woods looks up, her girlfriend says, "Oh, my god, he looked at you!" Later, when Woods gets into his car to drive away, a man in his 30s knocks on the window and asks for an autograph. Woods refuses, saying he is finished signing for the day. "Come on, be a man." the fan insists. Woods says no, and the man calls out, "A———," as Tiger drives away.
"You can't really win," Woods says. "I'm going to get ripped. That's part of it. I know that since I've come out here, my skin has gotten a lot tougher."
FRIDAY: Woods, a champion sleeper, gets in 12 hours of Z's before his 1:39 p.m. starting time. Because of a fog delay he doesn't go off until nearly 3. When he three-putts twice in the first seven holes, he doesn't seem agitated. "It was not the time to get angry," he says later. "The greens had so many spike marks I had to laugh. I decided to lag all my putts the rest of the way."
On the back nine Woods finishes with an explosion, birdieing the last three holes for a 66. It puts him at eight under, three strokes behind leader Pete Jordan. With a per-round scoring average of just over 68 since turning pro, Woods's game has been difficult to criticize. Distance control with his irons, Woods's bugaboo at the last two Masters, has been exemplary. "Because I'm doing it every day with no distractions from school, my understanding of how to play is increasing," he says. "One of the reasons I wasn't good at Tour events before is I could never get into a rhythm and a flow. Now I'm in a nice pattern, and I have good feel for distance."
SATURDAY: Because of Woods the B.C. draws its largest crowd ever, with people outside the grounds holding up I NEED TICKETS signs. Woods finishes with another 66 and remains three shots behind the leaders. Yet he is not happy, and after a trip to the media tent, he calls Harmon for advice. "It's the same stuff," Woods says later. "My club face position at the top was shut. It's something I will probably fight for the rest of my life."
Rushing out to the range to get in some practice before dark, Woods encounters Patrick Burke, who will play with him on Sunday. "Hey, I saved your butt," Burke says. "I told about 200 kids who wanted your autograph that they weren't allowed to come down here." Nevertheless, about 10 minutes later more than 50 youngsters have made the mile-long walk from the clubhouse to try to get his autograph.
Back at the Regency, Woods watches a replay of the round on the Golf Channel before turning in. "Hey, my shoulders are bigger," he says. "I'm not such a skinny little kid anymore." But he isn't as happy when he studies his swing on an approach shot. When he sees that his left wrist is flat rather than cupped at the top of his swing, he's disgusted. "Tiger! You're terrible," he says. "I can't make that swing tomorrow."
Asked if he will draw on his experience from Quad City, Woods is emphatic. "A lot," he says. "Let's face it, I fell on my ass. The beauty of it is I can say 'been there, done that' and pick up the pieces. I can't really explain it, but I'm going to have a different feeling."