I’m starting to wonder: Am I the only hacker Tiger Woods won’t play golf with? Hey, Tiger, I’m a regular guy too. After caddying last week at Torrey Pines for John Abel, a 59-year-old Buick contest winner from New Jersey, Woods joined 24 “regular guys” at Donald Trump’s L.A. course (Trump National Golf Club). The players had won a contest sponsored by Nike and Golf Digest. Originally Tiger planned to play a hole with all the winners, but he still can’t swing a golf club following his June knee surgery, so he followed each group on the 10th hole, giving advice and reading greens.
Joining them was Bill Pennington, a golf writer for The New York Times, who got a good column out of it. For Pennington, accustomed to seeing the media-room Woods (about as forthcoming as a mob boss on the witness stand), the surprise is how much fun Woods is on the golf course. Woods greeted everyone with a beaming smile and a vigorous handshake. He was moving without a limp and wore a light blue shirt, khaki shorts and white sneakers. He waved his hand toward the ocean and playfully apologized for the poor weather and the bad view. (It was about 90 degrees, and the vista from the elevated tee was stunning.)“God, I miss the SoCal weather,” he said.This was not the Tiger Woods I had been around in tournaments throughout the past decade. There was no stoicism. He giggled and asked questions. It was like being at a barbecue. So how did Pennington play with the World No. 1 eight feet away? I don’t want to give it away, but let's just say he does a lot better than Stephen Ames.