The Tiger Is Human
Tiger Woods, the 20-year-old golfing sensation, has a swing that no computer imagery could improve. His amateur record is unmatched in modern times. In his public appearances he's polite and earnest. Since winning a record third consecutive U.S. Amateur in August, Woods has turned professional, signed more than $60 million worth of endorsement contracts and played in four PGA Tour events—contending in three of them. Tiger's perfect!
Or he was. Last week Woods proved he's human. On Tuesday he showed up at the Buick Challenge in Pine Mountain, Ga., a Tour event he was able to enter on a prized sponsor's exemption awarded to him in May. On Wednesday, the day before the start of the tournament, he withdrew, citing physical and mental exhaustion. There's nothing uncommon about a late withdrawal; that happens almost weekly. But it is rare for a player to squander a sponsor's invitation. The veteran pros at the tournament—Peter Jacobsen, Tom Kite, Curtis Strange, among others—were openly critical of Woods's decision. The old hands know who butters their bread.
Still, if Woods was too tired to compete competently, he made a justifiable decision not to play. What irked tournament administrators was Woods's decision to blow off a Thursday dinner at which he would have received the Fred Haskins award as the collegiate golfer of the year. The last-minute cancellation of the dinner for 200 cost its organizers an estimated $30,000, "I understood Tiger not playing in the tournament," said Bob Berry, the tournament director. "I was hoping he could stay for the dinner. The agent told me that was out of the question."
The agent is Hughes Norton of IMG, and he did not take calls from SI. As Woods lay low in his new residence in Orlando, his father, Earl, spoke for him. "It was an oversight, a mistake," Earl said of his son's decision. "Had I been there, I'd have made sure he stayed. Hughes is focused on Tiger's professional career. And Tiger's just thinking, I'm exhausted, and I want to go home." And what about the money squandered on the dinner that never took place? "Tiger has a moral responsibility to make good on it," Earl said.
So we now know: Tiger can be selfish. Try finding a 20-year-old celebrity athlete who's not.
A Flat-out "I Do'
Injuries have long plagued Jose Canseco's baseball career, and they had an impact on his recent nuptials as well. While recovering from back surgery, Canseco married Jessica Seikaly at his Fort Lauderdale-area home on Aug. 27. The small group of friends in attendance witnessed an exceptionally private ceremony. "We had to get married in bed," Canseco reports. "I couldn't get out."
Sweet on Sauer
Todd Sauerbrun, the Chicago Bears' free-spirited, second-year punter, has become one man's media darling. The Sauerbrun Report, a twice-monthly, six-page newsletter devoted to Todd's comings and goings, is written, published and distributed by John Thompson, a 30-year-old cargo agent at O'Hare International Airport.
Thompson says the intake of airplane fumes had no bearing on his decision to launch the newsletter soon after Sauerbrun joined the Bears in August 1995. In a previous job as a reporter for a West Virginia radio station, Thompson had followed Sauerbrun's career with the Mountaineers from 1991 through '94. The most recent edition of The Sauerbrun Report, which has 40 subscribers who each pay an annual $10 fee, offers a kick-by-kick account of Sauerbrun's preseason, a story about the friction between Sauerbrun and since-released placekicker Kevin Butler—whom Thompson refers to as Butthead—and a glossary of terms such as Sauerboot (a typical Sauerbrun punt), Sauerpooch (a kick from inside the 50) and Sauer-brat (a bratwurst cooked over coals in the parking lot north of Soldier Field).