Tiger bares his teeth at reporter herd

Tiger Woods met any questions about his private life with moody silences and terse, short answers as he appeared in front of the media today at the JP McManus Pro-Am event at Adare Manor.

The 14-time major winner cut a starkly different figure from the man who had publicly apologised for his extra-marital affairs at a press conference in February.

When asked why he would not be practising any links golf before next week’s Open at St Andrews, Woods replied: “Because I need to go home.”

When the reporter then asked if that was due to “personal stuff” Woods glared before abruptly answering: “To see my kids.”

The 34-year-old was also asked if he felt his misdemeanours had been worth it given his relatively poor form since returning to the game.

“I think you are reading too deep into this,” was the American’s reply.

When questioned as to whether he had ever felt that golf had become trivial to him during his recent travails, Woods was slightly more forthcoming.

“Golf is something I have done for a very long time and there are times in one’s life when things get put into perspective,” he said. “One was when my father passed, and also what I have been going through lately.”

Although less than happy to discuss anything relating to his personal life, Woods was at least slightly more communicative when asked for his opinions on how his game is progressing following his return to action.

Woods finished tied for 46th in last weekend’s AT&T National in Pennsylvania, but feels he is improving.

He said: “I felt I made some good strides last week, I drove it great last week, I just putted terrible and finished way down the board. Something I need to work on is my light putting and there will be a lot of light, long putts at St Andrews.”

Woods was also asked for his thoughts on whether two of Britain’s top hopes for Open glory, US Open champion Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy, could secure the title in Scotland.

Speaking of McDowell, he said: “Well I think when you win one (major) it gives you confidence because you know what it takes. It’s hard to have that confidence if you haven’t.

“He has proven to himself that he can do it. He did all the right things at the right times to win a championship like that.”

“There are a lot of people (who can win) including Rory, who has won on our tour. So many young players have the talent and have had a lot of success around the world. It will be a fun test for everybody.”

Woods has won the last two Opens to be held at St Andrews, and he admits the Fife course is among his favourites.

“The first time I played it was in 1995,” he said. “My introduction to links golf was Carnoustie at the Scottish Open and then St Andrews, and I fell in love with it as the lines and angles are always different to what they say. People say hit miles left, but if you hit miles left you have no angle.

“It forces you to be more strategic in how you play. Your touch has to be great as you will have a lot of long, light putts, putts that break in three or four directions. A lot of past champions have had great short games and a great imagination and ball control. It’s a fantastic golf course and what genius it took to lay it out that way.”

Reflecting on his previous successes he continued: “To win at the home of golf, that would be what every champion wants to have happen. This is where it all started and to win at the home of golf there is a special feeling. To walk up the last hole, I’ve had that at other championships before but this one is different.”

But Woods would not be drawn on whether he would compete in October’s Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor. There has been plenty of speculation over whether Woods will play in Wales, with American team-mate Jim Furyk saying he should not play unless he feels 100% right.

“I haven’t thought about it, I don’t know if I will be in the team yet, we have two more majors and world golf championship events to come.”

Woods finished three under par during today’s round at the charity pro-am contest, after a poor seven over par in his opening game yesterday.

His team-mates included champion racing jockey AP McCoy, who said it was dream come true to play with Woods, and the now-retired Mick Fitzgerald.

Amateurs taking part in the invitation event have to fork out around €41,500 each for the pleasure of sharing a round with one of the game’s biggest names.

This year, 12 of the world’s 15 top-ranked players agreed to compete in the two-day event, which is expected to raise millions for charities in and around Limerick

It was Woods’s first appearance at a tournament outside the US since the controversy over his marital difficulties erupted last year.

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