The sun shone on Tiger Woods today.
After a bright morning session on the links, the reporters who packed into his afternoon press conference wore lightly colored golf shirts, the stage was adorned with pink flowers–which neatly matched the pink stripes in Tiger’s gray and white shirt–and the backdrop was the Masters’ lush green and gold.
“Tiger, we’re delighted to have you here with us,” said Craig Heatley, the cheerful New Zealander who heads the tournament’s media committee and sat with Mr. Woods on the stage.
“What a great day today,” Mr. Woods agreed, citing the beautiful weather and surprisingly sympathetic crowds. “Today was something that touched my heart pretty good.”
The reporters seemed to be in a good mood too, as Tiger frequently addressed them by their first names.
“Well, Christine. He did come to my house,” Mr. Woods explained, when asked about the Tony Galea, a doctor who’s known to prescribe performance-enhancing drugs. The sessions were plasma treatments for his knee, he said.
A follow-up, later: “Tiger, how is your knee? Is it still giving you pain on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis?”
The golf press, it seemed, would prefer to talk about golf. (“The only time I feel it is when a front comes through,” he said of the knee.)
One reporter asked if he was still concerned about his putting, or if there were other parts of his game he was more worried about.
“The fact I haven’t really played at all–that’s a little bit concerning,” Mr. Woods replied.
Does he intend to play in the Ryder Cup this year? Maybe, if he qualifies.
Some reporters did want to know about the events since Thanksgiving. Would his wife Elin be coming this week? No. Was it appropriate to be playing before his family situation was in order? “I’m excited to play this week.”
Had he taken Ambien and Vicodin? Yes. Had he been to rehab for that? No. So why was he in rehab for 45 days?
“That’s personal, thank you,” Mr. Woods said, betraying the glint of a little smirk.
Mr. Woods said he was getting lots of hugs from his fellow players, and that he was enjoying golf again. “You know, Rosie, that first tee–I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t looked forward to it like that in a long time. It feels fun,” he said with a smile. “That’s something that’s been missing.”
And he didn’t even mind the press too much.
“I was surprised by the media,” he said, but noted that the times had changed, and invoked that new old bogeyman of the beleaguered. “With 24-hour news, you’re looking for any kind of news to get out there.” But the criticism was fair, he said. “I know a lot of you in here are my friends and will always be my friends.”
After about half an hour, Mr. Wheatley cut off the questions from Mr. Wood’s friends, and reiterated how happy he was that Mr. Woods was back. “Thanks, Craig. Thanks, guys,” he said before exiting out a side door.