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The Loop

What else did we expect from Tiger Woods?

March 01, 2012

Since when did wishing someone "a good day" become such a bad thing? OK, so Tiger Woods' responses to Golfweek's Alex Miceli in his Honda Classic press conference were dripping -- check that, drenched -- in sarcasm, but this is what all the hoopla is about? Seriously?

While Wednesday was the first opportunity for reporters to ask Woods about excerpts released (in Golf Digest) from Hank Haney's new book, The Big Miss, he and his agent have already made it clear that they aren't happy about it. As he told ESPN's Bob Harig when he heard about it in January, "I think it's unprofessional and very disappointing, especially because it's someone I worked with and trusted as a friend." Did anyone really expect him to say more?

Harig kicked off the now infamous Honda Classic press conference asking Woods if his opinion had changed since then and he got this short, but polite response: "Bob, it's still the same. Nothing has changed in that regard at all." When another reporter asked a follow up about the excerpts a couple minutes later, Woods smiled and said "Well, I've already talked about it. So -- sorry, Tommy."

Answering questions is part of any professional athlete's job, but at a certain point, those questions become wasted breath. So while I understand Miceli wanting Woods to react to the statements Haney made in the book, I also don't have a problem with Woods refusing to give him an answer.

For more than 15 years as a pro, Woods has dealt with unparralleled scrutiny, and for the most part, he's handled it well. He almost always talks to the media after a round, very rarely ducking out like Phil Mickelson and others have been known to do after a bad day. So from a career of answering countless questions, the biggest sound bites that have come out of it are this and a somewhat-terse interview with CBS' Bill Macatee moments after Woods squandered a chance to win the 2011 Masters? I'd say that's a pretty good track record.

While the Woods-Miceli exchange grabbed all the attention Wednesday, the rest of the press conference was pretty standard, if not even a little enlightening. Moments before, our own Dave Shedloski asked a question about how the ratio of short game to long game work in Woods' practice sessions has changed of late. He got a long and thoughtful answer. Harig noted on Twitter later that Woods answered plenty of other questions Wednesday, and when it came to the book, the ESPN writer -- who had been shot down by Woods as well -- said it was the player's "right not to answer."

Woods has never mastered winning over the media, nor has he ever really tried. In the past, he got away with that because so much of the attention was on his otherworldly displays on the golf course. Now the narrative has done an about face, with the focus turning to Woods' struggles, both in the sport he once dominated and in his personal life. And for all the armchair athletes at home, when was the last time you sat around your lunch table at work at got peppered by questions you don't want to answer?

Sure, this is the price that comes with the shiny trophies, 80-foot yachts and beach-front mansions, but that doesn't mean he has to always be happy about it.

Despite being one of the most recognized public figures in the world, Woods has always wished to remain an extremely private person. Even if the biggest revelation in Haney's new book was that from time to time he enjoys renting a romantic comedy, he still wouldn't be happy. Woods doesn't want anything about his personal life being made public and even more, he doesn't want anyone to profit from doing that.

Unfortunately for Tiger, his much talked-about response Wednesday is sure to raise curiosity about the book and put a few more dollars in Haney's pockets. Now that's something he might regret.

-- Alex Myers