News & ToursApril 12, 2009

Woods camp not hard to spot

AUGUSTA, GA. -- About 40 minutes before her son was to tee off in the final round of the Masters, Tida Woods, wearing Tiger's traditional red, reflecting a belief learned from his mother that the color brings power, ambled up the hill along the first fairway at Augusta National Golf Club and moved behind the ropes to the sealed-off area under the massive live oak tree were the powerbrokers in the game gather. Seeing Nike chairman Phil Knight, also bedecked in red, Tida embraced the billionaire sneaker pioneer and said, "Like your shirt." Knight smiled and replied: "It's miracle Sunday."

Perhaps it was an Easter reference, or perhaps it was a prediction of what Knight expected of Woods, who began the day seven strokes behind Angel Cabrera and Kenny Perry. Tiger's tee time was 1:35, an hour before the final two-some. Said another Nike exec, also wearing a red shirt: "I think a 3-3-3-3 start would go a long way toward setting the tone for the day." For the record, that's birdie, eagle, birdie, par.

While Woods -- and Mickelson for that matter -- almost must turn the front nine in 32 to have a chance, the way the course has been set up this year does give the feeling that, as in Masters of old, a player could be four strokes behind at the turn and still be in the hunt. And it was clear from the chatter within the Nike camp that Woods began the final round feeling he was very much in contention.

Among those with such a belief were Tida Woods and Phil Knight. As Tiger's tee time approach, Knight took Tida's arm in his and walked off down No. 1, getting a good position to watch the first hole of what they hoped wild be a truly memorable final round at the Masters. They were accompanied by an entourage of about a half-dozen -- all in red.

"It's better to wear red than to be needled by Tida all the way around," said one member of the group. While Tiger's father, Earl, has always gotten credit for his son's focus, it is clear where he got his fire. It burns red, just like Mom taught him.

-- Ron Sirak

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