AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It's rare when Tiger Woods reveals much in a press conference, and especially at a major championship, where his always concise answers get even shorter. So it was during his session with a room full of media on Tuesday at Augusta, except on one subject.
On several occasions, Woods almost went out of his way to mention his late father. It's become quite noticeable that the older Tiger gets, the more he talks about the lessons he learned from Earl Woods.
There were two notable examples. When Woods was asked if the outsized expectation many have for him to win the Grand Slam bothers him, he answered, "No actually, it doesn't, because I play for myself and my family. That's it. That's what my father's always said to me and that's what I've always done."
When another reporter wondered if brash "I-want-to-take-down-Tiger" talk from players like Rory Sabbatini, Ian Poulter and Jason Day gets him annoyed, Woods said, "My father's always taught me, just go out there and just play and let your clubs do the talking and that should be enough."
Besides being grounded in common sense, both answers were notable for putting Earl in the present tense.
In a real sense, he is. As poised and matter of fact as Tiger is about his own success, I would guess that he himself often wonders just how his amazing relationship with his father shaped the amazing arc of his life. And on a practical level, thinking and even publicly talking about his father is a way of making sure he doesn't forget his lessons.
Earl is very much alive in Tiger, and probably never more than on the eve of a major championship.