News & ToursOctober 1, 2013

Dufner (really) keeping Tiger smiling

By John Strege

DUBLIN, Ohio -- The team format would seem to be anathema to one whose life has been devoted to the relentless pursuit of individual glory. For Tiger Woods, to twist a cliche, there is no team in I.

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Yet Woods was, if not giddy, at least cheery here on Tuesday, two days before the start of the Presidents Cup, for which the team apparently has played a role.

"It's just the guys," he said. "What goes on in the team room is a lot of fun. The ribbing, there's a lot of needling going on and I think that's what people probably don't really understand, how close these teams are."

He seems to get a particular charge out of Jason Dufner, who on the course gives off a languid vibe apparently at odds with his demeanor off the course. "He's totally different than what anyone thinks," U.S. captain Fred Couples said. "He's got a huge sense of humor."

Tiger seems genuinely amused by Dufner, though he won't say why, other than that he's surprisingly chatty in the team room and that "you wouldn't expect the things that come out of his mouth.

"Kuch [Matt Kuchar] is the same way," Woods said. "They are pretty funny guys and you expect the unexpected with those two."

Funny as in ha-ha, he was asked, or funny as in peculiar? "Both," he said. "And it could be in the same sentence."

Woods no doubt will find his game face between now and Thursday; it's still golf and competition. But there's a chance he'll find himself paired with Dufner at some point, and for Woods, playing at Muirfield Village is akin to a home game; he's won the Memorial Tournament five times there.

He also is rested following a week at home between the end of the Tour Championship and arriving here. He spent the time chasing "a four- and six-year-old," he said of his kids, Sam and Charlie. "I didn't touch a club until Friday and Friday was just putting. Just shut it down. Did a lot of training. Got my body feeling good. Then started to practice and get ready and then by the weekend I was full-go."

(Getty Images photo)

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