Its amazing. Every week Tigers locker is filled with requests from friends, strangers and fellow players to sign something, whether its a flag, hat or simply a photograph. Theres never a dull moment from the time he steps out of his hotel room to the time he returns to it at night.
Wherever - and I mean wherever - he walks, he is coated with two layers of security ranging from tournament officials all the way to the FBI. Despite the attacks on September 11th, this 25-year-olds way of getting from place to place has hardly been affected. He needed high security before that unforgettable day. He continues to need it now.
Each year this phenom adds a substantial number of victories to his resume. In turn, his increasing fame requires him to involve even tighter measures of bodily protection. He has sacrificed plenty to follow his dream.
Based on all of that, you would think that when the end of an official PGA Tour season finally arrives, the worlds most wanted golfer would find time to take a breather. Not this cat. Tigers so-called off-season in 2001 features approximately two weeks of down time.
Over the next two months, Woods is playing in the World Cup of Golf, the Skins Game and obviously, his very own Williams World Challenge. His appearance at the New Zealand Open is still pending. Throw in a few other clinics and commitments made early on in the year and presto! When its all said and done, Tiger may have 14 days to himself by the time the 2002 season-opening Mercedes Championships kick off.
When I asked him at the Tour championship what he was going to do with that time, Woods responded without hesitation, Not much, theres really no time.
His one stretch of time off came unwontedly after the World Trade Center tragedy. For personal safety and security reasons, the world Number 1 stepped off the stage for five weeks. That was my break, he said. It wasnt planned, but it had to happen.
Now its back to business as usual. His aching back seems to be under control. His newly developed goatee may or may not make it to Thanksgiving. He jokingly said it will be hard to shave it off considering it took him the entire five weeks to get the little bit of growth that he did.
As the official season came to a close this past Sunday, Tiger handled his post-game remarks in a kind and gentlemanly manner, despite the fact that his round was disappointing. He expressed his emotions about the day and he ended with smiles as he explained his future plans and reflected on another beautiful season for the history books. For ten months, Tiger provided us with the excellent theater weve become so accustomed to enjoying. For the next two months, he will entertain us unofficially from sites all around the world.
Thats the beauty of this sport. The season never really ends. In effect, we are treated to year-round sightings of perhaps the man who will become known as the worlds greatest athlete when all is said and done. Thanks for another wonderful year, Tiger, from completing the slam to locking up the Vardon Trophy for the third time. We look forward to 2002.