Tiger lets his hair down during one-hour clinic

  • Other Sport
  • Thursday, 31 Jul 2003

GRAND BLANC (Michigan): Tiger Woods entertained and informed about 2,000 fans during a one-hour clinic on Tuesday at Warwick Hills, the site of this weekend’s Buick Open. 

“I am a little tired, even though I didn’t do anything other than get my butt kicked,’’ Woods said after travelling from California, where he and South Africa’s Ernie Els lost a televised match to Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia of Spain on Monday night. 

A relaxed Woods hit shots off an elevated platform on the 18th green as fans packed the grandstands and lined the ropes almost 90 meters (100 yards) down the fairway, watching his every move and listening to his every word. 

Woods told the crowd that he begins each practice session with three sand-wedge shots, without caring where they go. Then he aims at targets with his 8-iron, 4-iron, 3-wood, driver, then his 8-iron and 60-degree wedge. Next, Woods takes the club he will use on the first tee and tries to shoot the type he shot he will need to start his round. 

“I do that because when I was a kid, I had jitters on the first tee,’’ he said. 

Some in the crowd had jitters when Woods aimed over their heads with an iron to show how he could shape a shot. 

“Don’t worry, I’m a trained professional,’’ he said before hooking a shot over their heads and just short of his target. 

Broadcaster Mike Tirico, who lives in Ann Arbor, and fans of all ages asked Woods questions as he hit shots. 

When Woods was asked what his favourite club was, he said he didn’t have one. 

“You have to have a belief in every club in your bag,’’ Woods said. 

Woods was then asked what he does when he’s not comfortable with one of his clubs. 

“Change,’’ he said with a smile as the crowd laughed. 

Woods said Monday that he was going to start using his Titleist driver, which he stopped using 18 months ago in favor of a Nike driver. Woods also uses a steel shaft, instead of graphite. 

“I figure in 22 years, I can use graphite on the Senior Tour,’’ he joked. “But really, with my swing speed, I have a hard time feeling where my club head is with graphite on the down swing.’’ 

A 9-year-old fan asked Woods what he shot during a round when he was 9. 

“I have no idea,’’ Woods said. “But I do know I broke par for the first time when I was 11.’’ 

Woods said he lifts weights five times a week when he’s not playing, and does cardio work five or six times during those weeks. 

“If you’re physically fit, it’s much easier to be mentally fit,’’ he said. 

Tirico closed the clinic by asking Woods if he could, as he has in his commercials, bounce the ball off his club and then hit it. 

“Well, I’m in a slump, so I don’t know,’’ he joked. 

Then, Woods did bounce the ball off his club, between his legs and behind his back before hitting it back down the fairway. 

“That was an amazing experience,’’ said James Teer of Washington, Mich. “I was really impressed with his easygoing personality and the way he interacted with the crowd. He makes me want to go golf more.’’ – AP 

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