ADARE: After another warm welcome from the Irish public, Tiger Woods was far less impressed with the line of questioning on Tuesday about his state of mind since the sex scandal that’s wrecked his marriage.
Following his 3-under-par 69 in his final round of the charity JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am, his first foreign appearance since the scandal, he met probing media questions with a show of tense, taciturn discipline.
When asked whether his liaisons with other women had been “worth it” since it cost him his marriage and commercial endorsements, Woods replied, “I think you’re looking too deep into this.” He torpedoed the follow-up question with an icily firm “Thank you.”
Faced with questions about why he was returning immediately to his Florida home rather than heading to Scotland to prepare for next week’s British Open at St. Andrews, one of his favorite courses where he’s won two previous Opens in 2000 and 2005, the previously easy-speaking Woods flipped a switch into staccato half-sentences.
How will you prepare? “Practicing.” Where? “Home.” Why not try and play some links golf in Scotland beforehand? “I need to get home.” Silence.
Why? “See my kids.” Silence. Throughout the 15-minute press conference journalists attempted various angles to coax and comment on how Woods’ marital implosion was affecting his game.
“There are times in one’s life when things get put in perspective, one being when my father passed, and obviously what I’ve been going through lately,” he said in his most expansive reply.
But when asked again whether he was finding personal worries overshadowing his game, Woods had clearly had enough.
“Everything’s working itself out,” was all he would say. When asked if that meant his troubles were still undermining his golf, Woods descended into glum-eyed silence, offering only an expression somewhere between a grimace and a frown.
Out on the Adare Manor Golf Course, Woods felt nothing but love and admiration from the more than 20,000 fans who lined the 7,453-yard course five-deep to watch his every drive, approach shot and putt.
Armed with a full night’s sleep, Woods breezed through a course that had befuddled him on Monday, when he shot a 7-over-par 79 to fall near the bottom of the field of 54 professionals.
Woods’ Irish caddie, silver-haired Tipperary car dealer Arthur Pierse, said Woods was exhausted on Monday after flying overnight from the conclusion of the AT&T National in Pennsylvania, where he finished a distant 46th.
He climbed back into the middle of the pack with Tuesday’s performance, though the score didn’t matter because the pros at the McManus Invitational typically give their prize money to Irish charities, and the event is not US PGA-ranked.
Every five years, Irish billionaire McManus persuades many of the world’s top golfers to join his charity event in Adare, where three-member teams of amateurs pay euro125,000 ($155,000) for the chance to play alongside the pros.
Tuesday’s rested Woods attacked the outward nine, birdieing three holes and narrowly missing others when putts clipped the hole. He missed an eagle on the 7th, the first par-5 target, by barely an inch. The day before, the same hole produced a double bogey into a pond.
Woods’ game suffered once the weather took a decidedly Irish turn at the 10th hole. Drab gray skies that previously offered softly spitting rain deteriorated into an in-your-face icy shower. Woods, setting aside his umbrella for rushed shots, underhit his approach into a bunker, then shanked the following chip shot 8 feet right of the hole. Woods slapped his wedge into the sand and groaned before two-putting for his day’s first bogey.
Woods dallied at a gourmet sausage vendor – where he inquired about what a Cumberland sausage was before opting instead for a bunless burger – until the rain eased. At the 11th, a par-3 230-yarder offering a straight shot across the River Maigue to the green, Woods planted the ball 8 feet from the hole, then nailed the putt for another birdie.
Woods did it again on the par-4 14th, covering most of the 444 yards on his drive, then planting the ball 2 feet from the cup for another birdie.
But just like Monday, Woods couldn’t conjure any magic in his approach to the par-5, 548-yard 18th in front of the fans’ main stands. He tried again to cross the river in two shots but once again put the ball into the water for his final bogey.
One of the thousands who came specifically to Adare to see Tiger, 32-year-old high school teacher Marie O’Sullivan, snapped off pictures rapid-fire as he passed by on the 18th fairway.
She told a reporter of her County Kerry village’s recent dramatization of Woods’ personal troubles, an earthy variety show called “Pride of the Parish” featuring Tiger Woods and wife Elin Nordegren in marriage counseling. In the show, she said, the couple mended their troubles with the help of a counselor.
“If only life imitated art,” said O’Sullivan, who played the role of Nordegren in the revue.