'It's been tough,' Woods said after a pre-tournament Pro-Am on Thursday. 'It's just like it was back in '96 and '97, when my dad had a heart attack and had complications with heart surgery.'
No one has been more influential in making Woods the golfer he is than his father, Earl, who taught his toddler to swing a club and then, when Tiger was a junior golfer, would jangle coins or shout during his backswing to toughen the kid up.
The elder Woods was diagnosed with prostate cancer six years ago; radiation treatment was believed to be successful. But Earl Woods told a group of children at a clinic for the Tiger Woods Foundation on Wednesday that the cancer had come back and spread throughout his body; forming lesions in his back and a tumor behind his left eye.
'My eye was literally pushed out of the socket,' the 73-year-old Woods told the Boston Herald. 'The pain was so bad, it was past being a headache. There's no such thing as a headache like that. Every beat of my heart, there was pain. There was no medication. I tried everything.'
Earl Woods said the tumor has been eradicated by radiation and he's feeling better. That is making Tiger feel better, too.
'He was concerned. And I knew how much he was concerned,' Earl Woods told the Herald. 'When I initially told him, he was very quiet. And he looked at me and said, `Pop, when I was a little kid, you promised me you were going to be here until (age) 84. I'm going to hold you to it.'
'And I said, `You've got it. I'll be here.' '
Neither Woods had spoken about his relapse illness until Wednesday. Tiger Woods was less talkative on the subject of his father's health; asked about how much it was weighing on his mind as he played, he said only: 'A lot.'
The Tiger Woods Foundation, created by father and son to promote the heath, education and welfare of children in America, is the primary charitable beneficiary of the Deutsche Bank Championship, which is in its second year. Adam Scott won the inaugural event over the par-71, 7,415-yard TPC of Boston course; Tiger Woods finished tied for seventh.
Woods, who serves as a sort of unofficial host for the tournament, is hoping that the friendly surroundings will help him snap out of what has been called a slump. Although he has won just once this year, he's finished in the top 10 in seven of his last nine tournaments -- five times in the top five -- and he's still fourth on the money list with more than $4.1 million in earnings this year.
And, according to the rankings at least, Woods is still the No. 1 player in the world.
But Vijay Singh, who has won five tournaments this year, including his third career major, could move into the No. 1 spot in the world rankings if he finishes higher than Woods this week. Woods has been No. 1 since Aug. 15, 1999, a record streak of 264 consecutive weeks.
'I'm tired of listening to that, really,' Singh said. 'I'm just going to try to enjoy it. I think that focus has been out of my mind for two or three months already now and I'm not going to think about it.
'If it happens this week, it's fine. Sooner or later, someone is going to overtake that. If it's not me, it's Ernie Els or somebody else. If I play well this week, it's going to take care of itself.'
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