Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tiger Woods was born in California and lives in Florida, but he decided to hold his PGA Tour tournament — this week’s AT&T National — in Washington, D.C. At the tournament press conference, he was asked about the PGA Tour’s new groove-rule change, the local hubbub over his pro-am partner, Dallas QB Tony Romo, and his missed putts at the U.S. Open at Bethpage. Normal questions for Woods the professional golfer.But whether you're turning on the radio or walking down the street, you can't escape news of Michael Jackson’s death this week. And so it was Tuesday as Woods talked about Jackson’s death and his impact as an entertainer.A reporter asked, “Tiger, few people have ever achieved worldwide recognition to the extent of you. Michael Jackson, I probably would put in that category. Were you a Michael Jackson fan and any thoughts on his passing so young?”Woods responded the same way most 33-year-olds who grew up in the United States would. Because before he was a multimillionaire, a champion and a worldwide celebrity, he was just another kid in suburban Los Angeles who watched MTV.“I think everyone here was a Michael Jackson fan. One of, probably if not the greatest entertainer that's ever lived,” Woods said. “I think -- I know my entire generation was influenced by his music, and you know, just the entertainer and just the songs, we listened to them -- whatever. It was always happy. You always wanted to listen to his songs.

“And his legacy is one as the greatest entertainer, one, I think that his draw, his appeal and his influence and all the artists following him. You watch these guys in how they pay attribute, how they perform, how they dance and how they sing, their mannerisms, look at Usher, Justin Timberlake, their moves, they're Michael's moves,” Woods said.Woods has shown a willingness to open up at news conferences in recent months and Tuesday was no different. Here are some highlights.On the PGA Tour’s groove-rollback decision:I think it's great. We've had plenty of time to make our adjustments. We've known for over a couple years now what this decision was going to be, when it was going to come down, and we've had plenty of time to make our adjustments.All the companies have been testing and getting ready for this, and the guys will make the changes. Most of the guys play with big groups brought their irons. Only new groups they usually have use their sand wedges. But guys will make their changes, their adjustments.It'll be interesting seeing guys catching flyers and not being able to spin the ball back out of the rough. Their decision is how they play par-5s whether they will they try and drive drivable par 4s now. Short-siding yourself is obviously going to pay a little more of a price, and you know, how many more 64-degree wedges you're going to see with the balls being as firm as they are. Are guys going to start going to a spinner ball.On whether the new groove rule will benefit him:I think it'll be an advantage to the guys who play spin golf ball already. Guys who play harder ball are going to have to make a bigger adjustment to the grooves and there are few guys who play a softer ball, and I do play a pretty softball, and I'll have to make less of an adjustment than most.On Jim Brown’s recent criticism that Woods has not taken a stand on major social issues:I think I do a pretty good job as it is what we're trying to do with the [Tiger Woods] Foundation. We have this event here, the Chevron World Challenge, our Jam in Vegas and our Block Party in Orange County, how many kids we've helped. What we're trying to do not just here in United States, but what my mom's doing in Thailand, all these different things that we've done.And you know, I want to do it right and not just do it, but do it right. And that takes time, and you have to understand, you just don't jump into something. You want to do it right. You want to have a plan, and I think what we've done so far has been very good, very efficient and it's helped a lot of kids, and taught a lot of kids how to get back and learn, learn how to lead, learn how to give back.On whether President Obama will attend the tournament:As far as seeing the president this week, I have no plans. I've put out an invite for him to come out here. He's a little bit busy. There might be a couple things on his plate.On playing the pro-am with Dallas QB Tony Romo, a villain in Redskin-crazed Washington D.C.:For him to come here to D.C., certainly I didn't realize it was going to be this big a deal. He is a big golf nut and loves to play golf and has tried qualifier for U. S. Opens before and loves to play and understands how to play, and I've always wanted to play with him, and he accepted our invitation to come out and play, which is awfully nice of him, and it's just going to be a fun round, but also an interesting one. Granted, he's used to getting booed, and it is what it is. It comes with being, I guess team sport, away from home.On why his putter cost him the 2009 U.S. Open:But at the U. S. Open I hit the ball really well and I made nothing. I didn't have my speed right, and I hit a lot of putts that lipped out, and when you're putting well, they lip in and when you're putting poorly or don't have the speed right, they're lipping out, and so many of my putts burned on the high side or lipped out on the low side. I just didn't quite have it right. And consequently I didn't win the tournament.Certainly hit the ball well enough to win the golf tournament, but just like all major championships you have to have all the pieces going. You have to hit the ball well, chip well, putt well, think well and that's the whole idea of majors. You have to have all your -- every single facet of your game is tested and it has to be going well, and just didn't work out.On his friend Michael Jordan’s induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame:I call him my big brother. To be able to call him and pick his brain on anything at any time and we've done that, you know, and he doesn't sleep, like me. So he may give me a call or text and I may give him a call or text at odd hours and we're both up and we'll talk for a while, and that's just something that it's been very special to get to know him, especially when he was playing, see how hard he worked, you know, off the court, away from the cameras, away from the game time.You can't believe how hard this guy worked. People think he just showed up and scored 45. That's not what happened. It is what happened, but to get him to that point, I mean God, this guy worked hard, the countless hours in the gym, shooting and shooting and shooting. I'm like, Mike, it's one in the morning. You know, "I'm not ready yet." He kept shooting and shooting and shooting. I'd feed him the ball or watch him go over drill after drill after drill and watch him in game time, he made that look pretty easy. It was just like what he did in practice. He just rehearsed it again and again and again until he had it. And it was fun to watch, watch him dissect games. It's been a lot of fun to get to know him over the years from a player but also from a person. He's helped me a lot.Follow Michael Walker Jr. on Twitter

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