Woods quest for privacy meets its great challenge

By Doug FergusonNovember 30, 2009, 6:23 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Florida – All anyone needs to know about Tiger Woods off the golf course is what he named his yacht.

Privacy.

Woods gave up a big piece of that when he left Stanford University after two years, turned pro with a “Hello, World” ad campaign and a $40 million endorsement deal, then quickly became one of the most recognizable athletes on earth.

He will invite some people into that world, but only so far.

Earlier this month in Shanghai, while playing a pro-am round at Sheshan International in a World Golf Championship, Woods allowed that he was staying in a cluster of mansions located on an island in the middle of the golf course. Some of the estates were valued at $14.5 million, and Woods could not believe the extravagance of these homes.

Approaching the island, he was asked which one he was staying in for the week.

“Oh, one of those over there,” he said dismissively.

It was a clear example of the world’s No. 1 player giving a morsel of insight, but not much more.

Once asked why he enjoyed scuba diving so much, Woods replied: “The fish don’t know who I am.”

He is friends with many, close to only a few. Among his best friends are Bryon Bell, whom he has known since junior high school, and Jerry Chang, a teammate at Stanford.

When he made history in 2001 as the only golfer to hold all four professional majors at the same time, Golf Digest put him on the magazine cover posing with the four trophies, along with his U.S. Amateur trophy.

Did he keep them on the mantel? A special trophy case? His bedroom?

That remains a mystery.

Even for a magazine with whom he has had a longtime relationship, the trophies were moved out of his house for the photo shoot. That $2.4 million home near the driving range at Isleworth is off limits to anyone not part of his circle.

It’s amazing that Woods has managed to keep such a thick wall around his personal life in the 14 years he’s commanded the spotlight. The last time his name might have been on any police report was when he was mugged going back to his dorm at Stanford in 1994.

In response to a query on his Facebook account in October, Woods said he and his wife, Elin, had managed to stay out of gossip magazines and tabloids. “I think we’ve avoided a lot of media attention because we’re kind of boring,” was the reply.

That changed Friday with a press release from the Florida Highway Patrol that Eldrick Tiger Woods, 33, of Windermere, struck a fire hydrant and a tree shortly after pulling out of his driveway. The patrol described the injuries as “serious,” making the news important enough to be the lead item on news channels and for networks to interrupt coverage of college football games.

Then came word of a small photo of Woods on the cover of the National Enquirer, alleging an affair with a New York night club hostess. The woman denied the story and flew to Los Angeles on Sunday to meet with high-profile attorney Gloria Allred.

Woods has had a general distrust of the media since a 1997 interview with GQ magazine in which he was quoted as telling racy jokes in the back seat of a car. He rarely spends much time in an interview, his answers always guarded. If he’s not the defending champion, he often will not go to the media center, making reporters come outside to see him.

The only criticism Woods has faced was not taking a stronger stand on social issues, such as the all-male membership at Augusta National, not playing more tournaments, or for cursing and throwing a club during competition.

But in all those cases, it was short-lived.

Questions about his car crash, however, will linger as long as Woods keeps it a mystery. He has dealt with a sporting media most of his life. Now he steps into the realm of celebrity media, which is far more relentless.

Speculation on what really happened that night outside – or inside – his home grows each day. Woods went 13 hours before confirming he was in a “minor accident,” then two more days before giving his side of the story Sunday.

He said it was his fault, an embarrassing accident, that he’s not perfect, and that any innuendoes were false and malicious. That hardly will be enough to keep the media satisfied.

Woods turned down a request by state troopers to talk three days in a row. Because it is only a traffic accident, he is not required by law to give a statement.

“Although Tiger realizes that there is a great deal of public curiosity, it has been conveyed to FHP that he simply has nothing more to add and wishes to protect the privacy of his family,” Mark Steinberg, his agent at IMG, said in an e-mail.

But that small camp of TV trucks parked outside the gates at Isleworth might not be leaving any time soon. Woods still is scheduled to compete in his Chevron World Challenge this week in Thousand Oaks, California. As of Sunday night, no one had withdrawn.

Would it not be wise to face the media, no matter how embarrassing, and move on?

That’s simply not his style. Woods can be self-deprecating, but only in the best of times. If he chooses not to show this week in California, he could easily go into hiding for the next two months. Hardly anyone saw him in public for four months after his knee surgery last year.

That won’t make the story go away. For all the records he is chasing inside the ropes, this might prove to be his greatest challenge.

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Vegas helicopters in to Carnoustie, without clubs

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 9:33 am

Jhonattan Vegas did some range work, putted a little and strolled to the first tee for his 5:31 a.m. ET start in the 147th Open Championship.

Everything before that, however, was far from routine.



Vegas' visa to travel to Scotland expired and the process to renew it got delayed - and it looked like his overseas' flight might suffer the same fate. Vegas, upon getting his visa updated, traveled from Houston, Texas to Toronto, Canada to Glasgow, Scotland, and then took a helicopter to Carnoustie.

He arrived in time on Thursday morning, but his clubs did not. Mizuno put together some irons for him and TaylorMade got him his preferred metal woods. He hit the clubs for the first time on the range, less than 90 minutes before his start.

"I'm going to go out there and play with freedom," Vegas told Golf Channel's Todd Lewis.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.