PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — One night after making his red carpet debut in New York, Tiger Woods was on a golf course that hasn’t treated him very well over the years.
Woods said it took him a week to get over his tie for fourth at the Masters. Next up is The Players Championship, where he has won only once in 15 years and has just one top 10 since that victory in 2001.
“If you’re not playing well, you’re going to get exposed,” Woods said.
Woods was at full exposure Monday night at the Met with girlfriend Lindsey Vonn. For someone who has demanded so much privacy off the golf course, he attended the Costume Institute Gala. Vonn was a guest of Vogue. He posed on the red carpet wearing a black suit, while the Olympic ski champion wore a long white dress with see-through slits. The theme of the gala was “PUNK: Chaos to Coutre.”
Woods has always been more about green jackets and claret jugs.
“It was certainly different,” Woods said. “Lindsey wanted to try and grow her brand. She’s come out with a new perfume and makeup line, so that was a big thing for her and I’m supporting it. As you know, I’m not really big into fashion stuff. The theme was pretty interesting, because obviously I remember some of that stuff when I was a kid. But I certainly didn’t wear that stuff.”
Are more red carpets on the horizon?
“We’ll see,” Woods said. “Maybe I can just go in jeans and a T-shirt or something.”
Woods is used to the attention as the primary focus of golf since he won the 1997 Masters. He was reminded of how much fans pay attention to him at the Masters, where he was involved in an unusual rules situation that won’t seem to go away.
It started with Woods’ third shot hitting the flag on the 15th hole and bouncing back into the water on the opening hole. Woods unknowingly took an illegal drop, but he wasn’t told about the possible infraction until after he signed his card. Augusta National took the blame, with competitions chairman Fred Ridley saying it didn’t initially notice the violation and chose not to ask Woods about it before he signed his card.
Eventually, he was given a two-shot penalty but allowed to stay in the tournament — instead of being disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard — under Rule 33-7 that gives a committee discretion to waive the disqualification penalty.
The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient last week said the Masters was within its right not to disqualify Woods. He wound up four shots out of the lead in a tie for fourth, his 15th consecutive major without winning.
Woods said it took him a week to get over his performance at the Masters. He said he was surprised that the drop and how it was handled was still being debated.
“I think Fred explained it pretty well,” Woods said. “For some reason, evidently that wasn’t accepted.”
Woods said he if saw a violation on television, he would not call it in. Television viewers — in the case of the Masters, it was David Eger, a respected rules expert — have been calling in what they think are rules violations for years.
“I don’t ever see myself calling in and saying that Kobe (Bryant) traveled or things like that, or an offensive lineman held,” he said. “But it’s our sport. And that’s what we’ve done and we’ve accepted. Certain groups are going to get more heat than others just because they’re on TV. It is what it is.”
Woods, who now has gone eight appearances without winning the Masters, said he didn’t stop thinking about it until he resumed practice a week later. He reserved his comments to the shot where all the debate began — a wedge that turned out to be too good. Woods was tied for the lead on the 15th hole in the opening round, and if the ball did not hit the flag, he likely would have had no more than about 5 feet for birdie.
“Unfortunately, I hit a good shot and got a bad break,” Woods said. “But I still had an opportunity over the next 36 holes to get it back … and I just didn’t do it.”
Woods doesn’t have much of an answer when it comes to the TPC Sawgrass.
He has failed to crack the top 20 eight times, the most of any tournament he has played. He is the No. 1 player in the year, and looks like it. In his last three events, he has won twice and tied for fourth. How that translates to the TPC Sawgrass is unpredictable.
“Some of the years, I’ve driven it well and not hit my irons well, and other years I’ve hit the ball great and not putted well,” Woods said. “And other years I’ve drove it awful and didn’t score well. You’ve got to have all the facets of your game going here.”