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Next Time You See Tiger Give Him Some Air

Well, it's been almost a month since Tiger Woods won a golf tournament. He hasn't played in almost a month, of course. Not since the Bell Canadian Championship has the golfing world found a reason to go into hysterics.
 
Where does Tiger go when he's not playing golf, anyway? His website says Saturday night there will be another 'Tiger Jam,' this one in Las Vegas. Guests of Tiger will be Christina Aguilera, Seal and LeAnn Rimes.
 
So we have Tiger covered for Saturday night. Now if we had the other 30...
 
It's been a puzzle really, trying to keep up with Tiger. We know he's out there doing SOMETHING, because he's not married. Single guys are always out there, right? Even single guys who have a romantic interest such as Mister Woods.
 
It's a shame, on the one hand, about Tiger. When he was in his first year as a professional, I used to speak on occasion to Mark O'Meara. Mark would mention Tiger and their frequent fishing expeditions. Before they would go out, they used to enjoy going to a nearby McDonald's early in the morning and for a little bite to eat.
 
No more. O'Meara said before long the place would be overrun with news of Tiger's presence, even at that ungodly hour. No more early-morning trips to McDonald's. Before long it was the same with the gas pump. You ever try to sign an autograph for someone while you're pumping gas? It can get pretty messy if you don't have three hands.
 
Anyway, Tiger went into a shell before long. Granted, he is paid millions. Hundreds of millions. There's no way he could spend all that money if he went shopping 24-7, 365 days a year. But think for a moment what he has given up in the last three years since he became 21. And think what his life will be like in 10 years.
 
He lives in Windermere, Fla., a community on the outskirts of Orlando near Universal Studios. Forty-four million tourists a year visit Orlando, and 40 million of them would be very interested to know the exact location of Woods' home. They won't find it, though. An eight-foot wall separates the posh Isleworth subdivision from the street. Curious eyes from Conroy-Windermere Road are halted by a gate at the entrance. It lifts for very few. It's meant to keep out those who are curious only.
 
When he is inside the walls, Tiger is just 'Tiger.' Everyone inside is rich. His wealth doesn't make him special. Neither does the fact he is a famous athlete. Several famous athletes are his neighbors. There isn't a whole lot that makes him stand out here. He spends lots of evenings over at the O'Mearas. He doesn't have many 24-year-old friends around Orlando, but at least he is away from prying eyes and a constant stream of well-wishers. Even when people are nice - and 99 per cent of them are nice - if you get a well-wisher 100 times a day, being congenial and folksy 100 times gets somewhat strained.
 
I met a man recently who said when he is near someone famous, he considers it his duty to walk up and introduce himself. There's the problem: in the real world, this happens a hundred times. A hundred times a day Woods has to be friendly, smile, says 'thanks.' You and I don't have to do that. Neither did the man. If he had to do it 100 times a day, it would get very old the first week.
 
So when he is away from golf, he wants to be completely away. When he is at a tournament, he is hounded with every step he has to take until he gets to the fairways. I mean, every single step. From the driving range to the putting green to the course to the lockerroom, the hounding is continuous.
 
The constant attention is worse than what Michael Jordan experienced. Jordan played in Chicago for a number of years and he eventually became yesterday's news to hometown fans. It was still hectic, but not like Tiger's ordeal. He goes to a tournament just once a year. He is in that town just once a year. Everywhere he goes, he is up-front-and-center.
 
But he cares about kids, and he's charitable. His charities occasionally demand that he get out in public. Hence, the Tiger Jams. Hence, Christina Aguilera and Seal and LeAnn Rimes.
 
I bet LeAnn doesn't have it like this.