Tiger Woods met with some of the games great scribblers on Tuesday to kick off the Target World Challenge week. Beforehand, he bombed drives out of the Sherwood Country Club range despite a headwind. More impressively, he then hit slice and draw wedges on the range for a handful of lucky folks, including his mom who had endure some annoying instructor telling her his life story. She's a saint.
Anyway, I've never seen anyone draw or slice a wedge. These were not gently falling cuts or slight right-to-lefters helped by the wind. Draws and slices to a target 80 yards away. Amazing stuff.
The relaxed press conference took place in the claustrophobic Sherwood cart barn, where yours truly was on hand to take in the proceedings. The highlights:
Q. When did you know you wanted to open the learning center? How old were you and why is it so important to you?
TIGER WOODS: I really wanted to do it once I got out here. I wanted to have something tangible that kids could touch, kids could feel, they could be inside of. I thought what we were doing by going around the country and trying to inspire youth was great. We're just starting. We're in infancy stages. But I didn't think we were doing enough. We were kind of a circus, coming in for one week and we're gone. What about the other 51 weeks?
I wanted to do something that was going to be there permanently, something we could call home as a foundation for kids to come in, for kids to learn and grow, and I wanted them to create their own programs. The entire curriculum is based on their wants, their desires and their needs.
Now, some of us have been a bit skeptical about the learning center because of its cost ($25 million). Listening to Tiger talk about it in person and hearing his passion for the project, it is clear he has genuine pride in the Learning Center and how it has a chance to impact young people.
So yes, I feel like a jerk.
Later, a few questions were asked about the bomb-it-out-there-and-worry-about-the-consequences-later approach to golf, better known as flogging.
TIGER WOODS: It's how the game has changed. It's evolved. In essence, it's evolved in the fact that we're able to hit the ball greater distances. But again, the long hitters are still able to carry bunkers that the average guy can't carry. And that's how it used to be anyway.
I think technology now has spread out the guys a little bit more with the added physical strength of guys, too, guys getting to the gym and really working on becoming stronger and more flexible, are able to get a lot more speed. Add to that technology, in the shaft and heads. And more importantly, be able to marry up the shaft, the head, and the ball, because that was never the case. We all had persimmon drivers and let's just go play and hopefully we can get it out there.
After a few more questions about turning 30...
Q. There was a story in Golf World last week about performance enhancing drugs and steroids in golf and the possibility of it. Do you think there is a possibility that players are using anything and should there be perhaps a Tour policy or testing on that, either steroids or any kind of enhancing drug?
TIGER WOODS: There's always a possibility. Unless you're tested, there's always going to be a shadow of doubt on any sport. I don't see anyone out there who I would think would have finds of it, but who's to say there aren't. We don't know. We don't see any guys out there, 6 5, 240, 250, in shape, cut up, all ripped up. We don't have guys out there like that.
Q. Are you in favor of testing or do you think that's something that should be treated with a little more study?
TIGER WOODS: I think we should study it a little bit more before we get into something like that. Obviously it's a path that where do you draw the line? Do you do it on the PGA Tour nationwide but don't do it on any other tours leading up to that, or all professional golf.
Obviously there is a lot to it than just, okay, there's mandatory testing. Where does it start? Who does it? Who is in control of it? What are the substances that you're looking for. In the Olympics you can't take aspirin. A lot of guys live on aspirin out here.