By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Everyone talkin' Tiger
Placeholder Image
    AUGUSTA – Clad in all black, the world’s best golfer sat in front of a standing-room-only clan of media Tuesday, two days before the start of golf’s most famous tournament.
    “It’s just any other week,” Tiger Woods said calmly.
    Yeah, right.
    We all know Tiger’s already cleared closest space for a fifth green jacket, a historical milestone that would tie him with Jack Nicklaus for the most ever. He’s already in elite company, listed alongside Arnold Palmer and Nicklaus as the only players who’ve won at least four Masters.
    The odds-on favorite to take home another coveted championship in the year’s first major, Woods returned to this hallowed course a few days ago, playing a full round Sunday and Monday and nine holes Tuesday in preparation for his 13th Masters appearance.
    Without question, a key to his monumental success has been his unwavering focus, a quality instilled in him by his late father Earl.
    A Vietnam vet who lost a long battle with cancer nearly two years ago, Earl put his son through rigorous mental training by doing just about everything he could to distract Tiger while he was playing.
Earl dropped balls and bags around Tiger during his drives and putts and made obnoxious sounds during his backswing.
    Obviously, it paid off.
    “I asked my dad to do that to me, to make me a tougher person,” Tiger said. “He put me through the same stuff he had to go through in Special Forces, all the psychology part of it. It was fun to me. It was frustrating at first because I didn’t understand how to deal with it, but I just had to figure it out. It was just one of those things where my dad helped me grow up.”
For as long as he can remember, Tiger and his father competed in everything they possibly could, from cards to golf.
“We were always going at each other,” he said. “It was always fun because I always wanted to beat him because he was so much better than me.”
    With 13 major titles and 64 PGA Tour wins, Tiger’s motivation doesn’t come from fans, his opponents, the media or the ungodly expectations heaped onto him year after year.
    “I play for myself and my family – that’s it,” Tiger said. “That’s what my father’s always said to me, and that’s what I’ve always done.”
    What exactly keeps him so driven?
    “I love winning,” he said with a huge grin. “I just love getting out there and mixing it up with the guys here. They’re trying to beat me, and I’m trying to beat them – that’s fun.”
    But before exiting the packed interview room, Tiger slightly changed his tune, suggesting that perhaps this week isn’t just any other week after all.
    He relishes the rich history of this tournament, the only major played at the same venue every year. He loves spending time in the revered Champion’s Locker Room where he’s had chance to get to know fellow Masters winners.
    “To have four (green jackets) at this age, it’s a dream come true,” Tiger said.
    Yeah, we thought so.

    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.