What does Tiger think he is, a doctor?
This and similar caustic remarks echoed around the pressroom when Tiger explained the tree root situation at the ninth. "There was a little joint that popped back out and I was able to somehow put it back in, which didn't feel very good, but at least it got back in and I could move my hand again."
Dubious as that diagnosis may be, what really matters is that for the first time this year Tiger Woods finished four consecutive competitive rounds. "Pretty proud" and "pretty pleased" were the words he chose to describe the feeling. "No one knows except for two other people how hard I worked to get back here. I've worked my butt off. To make my short game my strength again is pretty sweet. I've got my pop back." In a battle between two release patterns, one has prevailed.
As for the two humans, presumably the first is Chris Como, his swing consultant, though "coach" is still too intimate a title at this point in time. Is the second girlfriend Lindsey Vonn, who followed her man all week? Or is it his longtime agent, Mark Steinberg, whose color understandably drained from his face hearing his star client howl in pain from the pine straw? Caddie Joe LaCava? Longtime friend Rob McNamara? One of his children and not the other? Someone else the world of golf doesn't even know about?
Whoever the second confidant is, as remarkable as Tiger's return to world-class golf this week (he finished T-17 despite a Sunday 73) is the self-admitted small scope of his inner circle. Indeed, it is lonely at the top.
Although joining at the top, or at least the top of the Augusta National clubhouse where the Champions Locker Room is located, is Jordan Spieth, who tied Tiger's Masters scoring record of 18 under par.
"With the length of the golf course, I didn't think that people would be getting that low, but they kept it soft all week. And that's something that the older guys in the clubhouse and in the Champions Locker Room were all talking about, that we haven't seen it that soft. It wasn't springy until today," Woods said.
As for his thoughts on Spieth, even if the youngster did get an easy test? "I think it's fantastic. He's doing all those things he needs to do. . . . He's one of those guys that like Rory, can go off and make bunches of birdies in a row."
When may we expect to see Tiger Woods play golf again? Maybe at the Players in early May? Pleased as Big Cat was to be back in the hunt, he would not answer. Maybe only two people know.