Why Woods Won't Play
If you wish Tiger Woods would show up more on the PGA Tour, you're not alone. So does Tiger Woods. "I'd love to play more," he says, "but I can't." Why? Because the unprecedented attention he gets from the fans and the media drains him. "I'm honored and Mattered, but it's too much," Woods says. "I've bled twice from people sticking pens in my face."
At least 40,000 more spectators attend events in which Woods plays, and most of them want his autograph. He has also received death threats and therefore has a coterie of marshals and security guards shoulder to shoulder with him at all times. The jostling will never keep Woods out of a major, but he's rethinking his Tour aspirations. He wants to win the Vardon Trophy for low scoring average and make a run at the record for most wins in a year (18, by Byron Nelson in 1945) and a career (81, by Sam Snead). But at his current pace—this week's GTE Byron Nelson Classic will be his eighth start in 19 Tour events this year—he'll never catch Nelson or Snead. And it's not because Woods is burned out on golf. "He plays with friends every day," says his agent, Hughes Norton. "He's got all kinds of energy."
Woods and Norton are working with the Four to try to give Woods, and other players, some breathing room, including more roped-off corridors between greens and tees, players-only areas between clubhouses and parking lots and better security.
Until a plan is in place, Woods says, "I wish people could respect the fact that the golf course is our office and we're trying to make a living. I wouldn't come into some guy's office while he's in a serious negotiation and say, 'Excuse me, I hate to bother you, but could I get a picture?' "
It's all part of the wild new world Woods has wrought for golf and himself since winning the Masters. The Sultan of Brunei has asked him to fly over and play golf with his nephews, and he was recently cited in a poll as the second-most-popular American, behind Colin Powell. But with the honey come some stings. Woods was unhappy with a remark by Greg Norman, who said in March that he felt "sorry for Tiger. I think he doesn't have a life for a 21-year-old. I know what I was doing at 21; I was having a helluva time." Says Woods, "That's so wrong. I have a great life. For someone to make a comment like that, he ought to get to know me."
Woods pauses, then says, "Did you ever see that Michael Jordan ad? He's in a gym by himself, and he says something like, 'What if there were no people, no media, no fans? What if it was just a game? I wonder what I could do.' Well, sometimes I wonder, too."
Ozaki Warned about Rules: Not the First Time
During the final round of the Chunichi Crowns tournament in Nagoya, Japan, two weeks ago, Greg Norman accused Jumbo Ozaki of breaking the rules, claiming that the Japanese star had tamped down the rough behind his ball with his driver before changing clubs for his second shot. Ozaki wasn't penalized, but the accusation alone would have made headlines in the U.S., as did Norman's charges against Mark McCumber at the 1995 World Series of Golf.
Curiously, the affair had a short shelf life in Japan, partly because Norman took pains to counsel Ozaki about the possible violation rather than be confrontational with him, as the Shark had been when he attacked McCumber; and partly because of Ozaki's stature in his native land, where there's a disinclination to question the integrity of someone held in high esteem, no matter the transgression. Me wo tsuburu, a Japanese phrase that means closing one's eyes to the truth, might best describe the way Ozaki was treated.