THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. Tiger Woods has been off since September, but he remains as unflappable as ever, whether facing a field of the world's top players or a prank by a blonde "reporter."
Looking trim and relaxed after his longest break from competitive play as a Tour pro (not counting injury), Woods took questions Tuesday at the serene Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif., site of this weekend's Target World Challenge. His end-of-the-year tournament to benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation features a murderer's row of talent, but Tiger's main competition for the spotlight Tuesday was an attractive woman wearing press credentials.
She immediately asked Tiger if he thought "my boyfriend is gay because he screams out your name during sex?" and then posed an even cruder question. She made an inaudible plug for a Web site as she was escorted from the building, and Tiger wore a bemused smile as if there was nothing in the world that could surprise him anymore.
On the day he was named the PGA Tour's player of the year for the ninth time, Tiger answered questions about his game, his baby daughter, his long layoff, his charity work and even his purported divinity. Here are some highlights...
On not playing since the Presidents Cup
"It's totally different when you play at home. You can have all the money games you want, you can play with everything on the line, but it's just a little different when you get out here and play a tournament. Hopefully I'll find it fairly soon. ... Bur as far as having time at home with (wife) Elin and (daughter) Sam, it's been incredible. ... You appreciate the little things, and I think that's the most important thing."
On how his late-season form compared to his other great runs
There's no doubt it's right up there. I hit the ball very well, and made the putts, which was nice. I really felt like I had control of the golf ball. I could hit any shot I wanted to hit.
On three celebrity amateurs playing the 2008 U.S. Open layout a week before the event
They should play the Monday after the tournament that's when it's the hardest. A week or two before is not so bad. It's just amazing how the grass seems to grow in the last couple weeks for USGA events.
On the 24/7 news cycle and sports media
It has become microbial, the focus. I think that's the biggest difference. I've talked to people in my sport, from Jack to Arnold and even to Byron, about how it was in their day, and each of them says the same thing: We don't know how you do it in your day and age. Well, 20 years from now I couldn't imagine how it would be for some other kid to do it this day and age.
My father was instinctively a teacher. He got the most joy out of helping others. He always tried to help somebody each and every day he lived. ... That's something I've done but I haven't been able to do with Sam yet. She's not quite old enough for me to talk to and teach her these life lessons, and I think that's going to be the fun part.
On saying that if he ruled the game, players would be using persimmon woods and balata balls
I actually played the ninth hole at St. Andrews in 2000 with a gutta-percha ball and with my old golf ball, which was the first Nike ball I put out there, and I drove the green with my ball. And then with the gutta-percha ball I hit driver and 5-iron and just barely rolled it to the middle of the green. ... It would be fun to play a tournament (with persimmon and balata), there's no doubt.
On the Web site TigerWoodsIsGod.com
I am so far away from that [laughs].
A complete transcript is available at asapsports.com.