If you came to EA Sports’ Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 release party in Manhattan on Wednesday and were hoping to catch a glimpse of the “World No. 1,” you had to make sure you didn’t use the restroom, or even blink, because you would’ve missed him.
EA Sports invited me and a couple other Golf Magazine editors to the bash, which took place at Strata, a Flatiron district nightclub known for its purple lighting and all-night weekend parties. For EA Sports, the bar added a dozen or so TV monitors for partygoers to play with the new Tiger Woods game. When I checked in, I asked a rep for EA if Tiger was going to speak.
“Oh, no,” was the reply. “He’s doing Conan O’Brien’s show now. He’s going to walk through here and then go into a private room.”
We decided to camp out by the roped-off VIP area, which happened to be near the bar, to hold our Tiger vigil. This was at about 6 p.m. The bar filled up pretty quickly — free drinks will do that — although the celebrity draw was decidedly low-voltage. We expected Friends of Tiger like Matt Lauer and Derek Jeter, but they had pressing engagements in Denver and the Bronx. So instead we got TV actor Timothy Busfield from thirtysomething — which premiered when Tiger was 7 — and rapper Fabolous. Not that we saw those guys, or Knicks guard Chris Duhon or Harold and Kumar hottie Paula Garces, who were also slated to attend.
We had a running bet of $5 for the first true celebrity sighting. (Rules: All three people had to recognize and have heard of the celebrity.) My plan was to be the first to spot Steve Shrippa from The Sopranos or Andre Iguodala from the 76ers, the fat guy or the tall guy, but the money went unclaimed. Clearly, the VIP area near us was more of a NVIP area for “not very important people.” It’s good to know where you stand in the pecking order.
After two hours of waiting for Tiger — no flashbulbs, no murmur in the crowd, nothing — I left to have dinner with my girlfriend. On the way out I asked the bouncer, “Did Tiger ever show up?”
“Yeah, he came through pretty quickly,” he replied. People.com reported that Tiger did chat with Michael Phelps (photos) in an upstairs suite but stayed away from the ground floor. Heck, Tiger could have had the Dalai Lama and George W. Bush in that suite, and no one would have known. I guess when the most famous athlete in the world wants to be alone, he goes to one of his own parties.