The Tiger Woods fan presser Monday wasn’t exactly riveting fare.
You could call it a clinic on “The Art of the 2-Foot Putt.”
Or maybe just “The Big Miss II.”
As questions go, they were all 2-footers. It was about as much fun as watching Woods line up gimmes all day on the practice putting green. It must have been easier than shooting reporters in a barrel, uh, I mean fish in a barrel.
For as much as Woods talked Monday about his “better-than-most” putt at The Players Championship in 2001, he made sure to spare himself any tough, double-breaking questions from fans in the video he posted on his website. That’s not to say the fans didn’t come up with some compelling questions; we’ll never know, because Woods got to pick and choose from a collection we’ll never see.
My bet is there were some great questions in the mix, but I wouldn’t have included as “great” the ones Tiger did.
What have you been working on since the Masters?
“Great question,” Woods deadpanned. “At the Masters, I was kind of struggling with my ball striking a little bit, and Sean (Foley) and I fixed it. It had to do with my posture. My setup wasn’t quite right, as well as my takeaway.”
OK, as Woods answers goes, he was practically baring his soul.
Do you still rotate between the 2-iron and the 5-wood in the bag?
“That is a great question,” Woods said again before going on to explain he uses the 2-iron when it’s dry and fast and he feels as if he can chase the shot with some run on it and uses a 5-wood when there are reachable par 5s and he needs some height on his shots.
Those two “great questions” were among 19 Woods answered off papers he held in a 14-minute and 19-second video.
Which was your most memorable Players Championship and why? . . . How many practice rounds will you play before a tournament? . . . What ratio of long-game to short-game practice do you do before a tournament? . . . Do you think you have a good chance of winning Wells Fargo?
If Edward R. Murrow or Mike Wallace were still around, surely they would have been taking notes on the penetrating quality of the inquiries. If Bernard Darwin and Herbert Warren Wind were around, surely they would have feared the end of probing media interviews as we know them with social media moving them aside.
“The Big Miss II” could have described this social media experiment as well. It did feel like an experiment given Woods chose for the first time at a tournament site to do this kind of fan Q&A in place of a media conference. Given the awkward exchanges in his media session at the Honda Classic, and given his own swing coach’s plea for critics to back off Woods, it’s clear Woods would prefer fewer media encounters, though he deserves credit for regularly standing up to the camera when many of his brethren high-tail it after rounds. Woods may not say a lot, but he does stand up to face the questions.
This felt like the Big Miss because Woods did have a chance in a more relaxed, informal social-media setting to connect with fans in a meaningful manner. He could have had the chance to show social media can be more illuminating than traditional media. Instead, he whiffed on that 2-foot putt. Instead, we got more of the same, little meaning beyond trivial detail.
Yeah, I get as much as I can that Woods must guard his private life, that he must get exhausted and irritated having everything he says and does analyzed ad nauseam. I understand if Woods says anything of substance, has any strong or controversial opinion, it is headlines around the world. It’s fodder for endless blogs, discussion boards and talk-show debates.
There are probably fewer headaches when you’ve mastered the art of saying almost nothing, and Woods has mastered that like he’s mastered real 2-foot putts.