SOUTHPORT, England — Mark O'Meara won the Open a decade ago at Royal Birkdale, but you wouldn't know it based on his press conference this week. The approach of the assembled scribes was fairly simple: If Mohammed isn't coming to the mountain, his Best Friend Forever will do instead.
To be fair, O'Meara started it. Asked about the Dubai logo on his shirt, he talked about having played in the Mideast nation over the past decade and his role as an ambassador for the region. Then he pulled his finger out of the dam: "I remember going there 10 years ago... Tiger was intrigued."
After that, the deluge.
What effect does Tiger's absence have on the Open?
Will he be missed at the Ryder Cup?
Do you get upset at all the focus on Tiger not being here?
How will Tiger's absence affect players conditioned to look for his name on the leaderboard?
Were you surprised that Tiger said his knee hadn't felt great for 10 years?
Do you think Tiger was exaggerating about how long his knee was ailing?
Can you Tell us about your practice round with Tiger in 1998?
Is Tiger a better skier than you?
Does Tiger wear boxers or briefs?
Okay, so I made up that last one. But perhaps O'Meara should have been asked if he will earn a fee this week as an official spokesperson for Tiger, Inc. In the unlikely event that O'Meara wins again at Royal Birkdale, he should anticipate this as the opening question at the post-victory press conference: Do you think your win will motivate Tiger to get back on Tour sooner?
And in case you're wondering, Tiger is not a better skier than O'Meara.