Thursday, May 07, 2009

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Whatever else his eight-month layoff did, it seems to have mellowed Tiger Woods. After taking 31 putts (and making nothing longer than 4 feet) en route to a 1-under 71 in the hot, sticky first round of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass on Thursday, Woods was in an unusually giving mood after meeting the press. On his way to the locker room he stopped, fished a pen out of his pocket and signed 13 autographs for a small scrum of fans on the clubhouse patio.That's 13 more than one might have expected after Woods shot in his words, "the highest score I could have shot today" -- a day in which he hit a more-than-respectable 10 of 14 fairways off the tee."Strategic positioning," said fan Patrick Moran, whose friend Riaan Jansevan Rensburg snagged one of the Tiger signatures on a new, khaki-colored Players Championship cap. "Tiger never comes back out toward the herd (between the scoring hut and 18th green), so we knew he was coming."Yes, but who knew he was going to be stopping?The surprising show of magnanimity comes just four days after Woods was seen laughing with Sean O'Hair (and his daughter) and other fellow Tour pros after finishing fourth at Quail Hollow.

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