Privacy May Be Tigers Biggest Issue as a Father

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OAKMONT, Pa. -- Perhaps the most famous photo of Jack Nicklaus as a father came from the 1973 PGA Championship.
 
He had just completed a 68 in the second round at Canterbury when 4-year-old Gary, the fourth of his five children, ran onto the green and into his arms. Nicklaus walked off the 18th green clutching his son with one hand and his putter with the other.
 
Two days later, he won the PGA to break the record for most majors.
 
Don't expect that to happen to Tiger Woods.
 
Fatherhood won't stop or even slow his pursuit of Nicklaus' 18 professional majors. Woods already has shown that life-changing moments, such as marriage or the death of his father, haven't changed a thing about his dominance in the game.
 
Far more difficult to imagine is a warm and fuzzy photo of his family in public.
 
Woods became a father Monday morning in Orlando, Fla., when his wife, Elin, gave birth to a daughter they named Sam Alexis Woods. The news was announced on his Web site, leaving out such details as height and weight and when she was born.
 
'Pictures of Sam Alexis Woods will be made available shortly,' it said beneath a short note from Woods.
 
The big question is when anyone will see this child in public.
 
Woods can rarely go anywhere at a golf tournament without getting pounded by the press and the public, and sometimes his peers.
 
He draws such a clear line between private and public that Woods won't reveal his schedule until a week before a given tournament. He doesn't let anyone except his friends inside his home, even before he got married. The name of his yacht says it all -- 'Privacy.'
 
Ditto for his wife, a one-time model from Sweden, who will turn and walk away from a conversation when she sees a group of photographers pointing cameras at her.
 
There was one moment in South Africa at the Presidents Cup when Woods had just lost a match and was standing behind the 17th green at Fancourt with his wife, watching his teammates. A dozen photographers began taking pictures of them, and Woods finally stepped in front of his wife and barked, 'You got enough, already?'
 
Imagine how much more protective he will be of his daughter, or any other children who follow.
 
The great coincidence about this birth was the timing.
 
Woods' daughter was born the morning after he finished second by one shot at the U.S. Open, needing a 30-foot birdie putt on the last hole to force an 18-hole playoff Monday. It might be the one time, in hindsight, Woods didn't mind settling for second.
 
Eight years ago, Phil Mickelson was about to become a father when he missed a 25-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole at Pinehurst No. 2 that would have forced a playoff against Payne Stewart. His daughter was born the next afternoon.
 
Everyone knows the Mickelson children because they are dressed to the nines when they run out to the 18th. The exception was THE PLAYERS Championship, when Amy and the kids were in San Diego, and Mickelson had to settle for a hug from Butch Harmon.
 
The only time Elin Woods was a prominent part of the picture was last summer at Hoylake, and only because Woods was a blubbering mess of tears having captured his first victory since the death of his father.
 
Elin once talked about wives and children going out to the 18th green to celebrate victory, and while she thought it was 'very cool,' she had a hard time doing it herself because 'it's just not my personality.'
 
For other players, children are part of their careers, traveling to tournaments, caddying at the Par 3 Tournament at the Masters.
 
Ernie Els wants his 8-year-old daughter Samantha to watch him play at least nine holes during the weekend so she has an understanding of what he does for a living. Few moments were more charming than the American Express Championship in Ireland in 2004, when Samantha had a sketch book, like her mother, drawing pictures of every hole Els played.
 
Els was working his way up the leaderboard in the third round, walking up the eighth fairway, when Samantha pressed up against the ropes and waved wildly, as if she were watching a parade.
 
Woods is so protective of his private life, it is difficult to imagine allowing his child or children to be at a tournament lest they feel part of the circus.
 
That's something Nicklaus never faced. His stardom came during the era of Sports Illustrated, not People magazine.
 
Nicklaus had to cope with Palmer, Trevino and Watson.
 
Woods has Nikon, Canon and Kodak.
 
Inside the ropes, it is hard to believe anything will change. Woods has talked in recent weeks about not getting as much sleep and changing his schedule to accommodate the needs of fatherhood. That's no different from a plumber or an accountant.
 
Some were curious to see how marriage would affect his practice and play, and Woods entered marital bliss in the fall of 2004. He won two majors the next year. Just as many figured the death of his father would send Woods into a funk, and it looked as though that might be the case when he missed the cut at a major for the first time. He finished the season with two more majors and six straight TOUR wins.
 
Will children make him any different?
 
It was never a problem for Nicklaus, whose first child was born after he won the 1961 U.S. Amateur.
 
'You can't practice all day long,' Nicklaus said earlier this year. 'You get your work done and prepare. You've got plenty of time for a family, and plenty of time to play golf. That's not a big deal. Tiger will do just fine.'
 
He might be even better.
 
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