Earl Woods not surprised by Tiger
By Mark Whicker
The Orange County Register
AUGUSTA, Ga. - He sat in front a small monitor, next to the
putting green, and his round, impassive face softened with every
shot he saw.
"Eighteen-under," Earl Woods murmured to himself,
as a security guard and a CBS technician flanked him.
Slowly, spectators and media members came over to see Tiger's
father, the first architect of the golfing monolith that won the
Masters tournament by a record 12 strokes.
Behind them, 17-year-old Gentry Ming, a military brat like
Tiger, stood impatiently.
"Ask him (Earl) if Tiger has a girlfriend," she kept
saying. "Ask him."
Earl kept his eyes on the tube. When Tiger rolled in a tough
par putt on 16, Earl grinned and applauded.
"Three-under-par on a (windy) day like this? That's gorgeous,"
He was in a hospital recovering from heart by-pass surgery
less than two months ago. He did not accompany Tiger on the Florida
tour, hoarding his strength until this week. Even then, he did
not walk the fairways as usual.
When he encountered PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem at the
clubhouse Wednesday, Earl informed him Tiger was going to win.
"And he looked at me like I was crazy," Earl said.
Now Tiger played the 17th hole as Hughes Norton, Tiger's point
man from the IMG agency, huddled with Earl. A security guard volunteered
to get Earl a sweater in the windy dusk.
"I have good days and bad days (physically)," Earl
said. "My range of motion is getting better. But it's a long,
Tiger walked to the 17th fairway as Earl prepared to walk through
the crowd at the 18th green.
He was asked about all the records that Tiger brushed away
in four quick days.
"I don't think he cares about the records," he said.
"What's important is that he survives and finishes.
"On another course today, he might have used a different
strategy with a nine-shot lead. He might have used 1-irons off
the tee and gone for accuracy instead of as much distance. But
here, he stayed with the same game plan as always.
"He doesn't worry about the margin or the scoreboard.
He plays the course. The course is not going to give you anything,
especially this one. You have to steal it from the course, and
that's what Tiger did every chance he got."
Now it was time to go. Tiger was walking up his 72nd fairway,
a worldwide legend in his 21st year. Earl got up with Norton and
went to the finish line. But Gentry Ming still didn't have her
(c) 1997, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.).