GRAND BLANC TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Tiger Woods posed for a lot of pictures during the Buick Open pro-am, but he took special care for the photo with 2-year-old Reggie Livingston at the sixth hole.
Livingston was in a wheelchair, alongside his four brothers and parents. The young boy from Haiti has a condition that results in excess brain fluid and he has been adopted by a family in the Detroit area.
The boy’s father, Pete Livingston, asked Woods to stand with his family for the photo.
“He didn’t hesitate,” Livingston said. “After he saw Reggie, he got really interested. He said, `What’s wrong with the little guy?’ You can tell he’s got a big heart, and that he’s a dad.”
Woods, playing at the Buick Open for the first time since 2006, acknowledged Wednesday that his outlook on life has changed since his wife gave birth to their daughter two years ago. Their son was born earlier this year.
“Elin and I were talking about that not too long ago, we’re so lucky to have two healthy kids,” Woods said. “I never really felt that feeling until I had kids of my own.”
He insists, however, that fatherhood has not altered his burning desire to win every time.
“Totally separate,” Woods said. “What I deal with on the golf course is on the golf course.
“It definitely puts things in better perspective. But still, it doesn’t lessen the blow when you lose a golf tournament or miss a cut. It still hurts. You don’t have as much time to dwell on those little things when you come home, which is actually I think a positive.”
Woods worked on his game after taking a few days off following his relatively awful performance at the British Open, playing a six-hole stretch 7-over-par and missing the cut by a shot. It was the first time he missed a cut in three years and was just the second major he didn’t give himself a chance to win.
“I had a bad stretch and you can’t have bad stretches and make it into championships,” Woods said. “You just can’t afford to do it and not only make the cut, but expect to win a golf tournament.”
Woods expects to be in the field next week at the Bridgestone Invitational before taking his last shot to win a major this year at the PGA Championship in Minnesota. Woods hasn’t played in three straight weeks since he had reconstructive knee surgery 15 months ago. If his plan holds, the third consecutive tournament will be a major for the first time in his career.
He began his pro-am round at 7 a.m. and about 100 fans were in the stands and hundreds more lined the ropes to watch him and rock star Bob Seger. Woods missed the first fairway to the left, one of the few poor shots he had on the front nine. He finished at 5 under, thanks to accurate drives and long putts.
Did that do anything for his confidence?
“No,” Woods said quickly. “The greens are soft, so you should be able to shoot a pretty good score. We’ll see how I do in the tournament. With the conditions being this soft, the scores are going to get pretty low.”
Scores usually are low at Warwick Hills, where the average winning score has been almost 21 under par since 2000.
“Too easy? I would say no. It’s not the case,” said Jim Furyk, who has shot par or better in 55 of his 56 rounds at Warwick Hills. “The golf course is always in perfect condition, and that’s probably why it plays as one of the shorter golf courses we play.
“If you’re not patient and you start trying to hit drivers in places you shouldn’t, you don’t drive that ball very accurately, it can jump up and bite you.”