"There's no doubt that we're playing for second place," Bjorn concurred on Saturday night. On Sunday afternoon Bj�rn proved it, seizing that second-place tie with Els, securing for both men a coveted silver...salad plate.
Is it any wonder, then, that Montgomerie snapped, "Next question," when Woods's name was raised in the interview tent last week? Els was asked to talk about Woods 45 seconds into his session with the press after taking the first-round lead. "C'mon, that's not fair," said the Big Easy, uneasily. "I just shot a 66. If you want to talk to Tiger, call him on the telephone."
Good luck getting through. "Gods do not answer letters," John Updike wrote of Ted Williams, who refused to tip his cap after homering in his final at bat at Fenway. Woods, another athletic prodigy who sounds as if he's no fun to fish with, doesn't take phone calls. He has his circle of friends, but most adhere to a strict code of omerta—or is it a code of O'Meara?—that ensures the public will never likely get to know him. Which is fine, because his performances will more than suffice as entertainment. "Why does the writing make us chase the writer?" the British novelist Julian Barnes wrote of the modern obsession with celebrity. "Why aren't the books enough?"
With Woods, the books are enough, and will remain so. "When Michael Jordan played, I pulled for him," Toms said after his professionally unsettling yet oddly uplifting Saturday round with Woods. "As a sports fan, I enjoy seeing a top athlete perform at his best."
One only hopes that Woods can enjoy his feats as much as others do. When Justin Leonard, briefly a contender to Tiger's generational supremacy, won the British Open at Troon in 1997, he sneaked back onto the course at midnight and drank champagne on the 18th green. While Woods left St. Andrews in his jetwash well before the clock struck 12 on Sunday, he did celebrate in a small way, a way that suggests he might one day loosen up, maybe even undo the top button of his polo shirt.
Before leaving town, he ducked into a building on the grounds of the Old Course and said thank you to the tournament committee. He posed for pictures while flustered staffers struggled to work their Instamatics. Finally, claret jug in his left hand, he raised a glass of champagne with his right. Said Woods, "I'd like to make a toast to St. Andrews."
The new and future champion took a small sip, grimaced a small smile and, another duty done, politely began to make his exit But his girlfriend wouldn't have it. "Keep drinking!" Jagoda ordered. Woods, dutifully, emptied the flute.