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Original Issue

An Audience with the Earl

Sorry. Can't talk. Just finished nine with Earl Woods. Filled up
two notebooks and half of a third. Can somebody move that postal
notice off the bottom of this page?

1. Is your training of Tiger finally done?

"No, the painting isn't complete. There's some more scenery that
has to be filled in. Some smoothing of the rough edges. Besides,
I haven't signed it yet."

2. You mean you want to see him win the British Open this week
at St. Andrews, giving him the career slam at age 24, youngest
in history?

"Oh, no, no. That's not important at all. I mean, I'm in awe of
Tiger's physical prowess and his mental strength, but his
humanity and his compassion need work. They have to
counterbalance his striving for superiority. Nicklaus had his
wife and kids for balance. Tiger only has me and his mother.
Girlfriends don't do it. Girlfriends are here today, gone
tomorrow. Without the proper balance, the individual becomes
pompous and domineering."

3. How's your health? [At 68, Earl's had eight bypasses, ripped
open half of them hiccuping and had them resewn; been told to
stop smoking but hasn't; gotten prostate cancer, then beat it
with 25 days of radiation; and had to stop traveling to
tournaments with his son.]

"I'm not ready to die, if that's what you mean. I don't go to
the tournaments anymore because I get mobbed and can't see any
golf. I know smoking is wrong, but I contend there's no
cholesterol in a cigarette. Tiger doesn't like it, but he's
accepted that I'm just like him: stubborn as hell."

4. But don't you miss being there with him?

"I am there. I'm there in spirit. I've communicated with him
telepathically. For instance, at the [1999] PGA, when Tiger was
standing over that putt at the 17th [on Sunday], I was in the
hotel, and I said to him, 'Tiger, this is a must-make putt. Now,
we've been through it before. Trust your stroke. Trust your
stroke.' And he made it. That night I said to him, 'I told you
to [trust your stroke on] that putt at 17.' He said, 'I know,
Pop. I heard you.'"

5. Ever met Richard Williams [father of tennis sensations Venus
and Serena]?

"I've never met him, and I don't want to meet him. I don't think
much of the way he's handling his daughters. He's not allowed
them to reach their full potential. He's not allowed them to
have competent professional instruction. It's almost like
watching Tiger play if he'd never gone to [his swing coach]
Butch Harmon. I heard Venus say [after winning Wimbledon], 'I
get to buy myself a watch.' I thought, How sad. Twenty years
old? Now I can buy a watch? All you have to do is listen to
them. You can hear the girlish attitude and the girlish conduct.
These girls are not on the road to maturity. They're in a time
warp. I feel sorry for them."

6. Would you like to live long enough to train a kid of Tiger's?

"No. I've passed the mantle on to him. Besides, I have a
granddaughter whom I've been working with. [Cheyenne Woods, 10,
the daughter of his eldest son, Earl Jr., plays this week in the
Junior World Championship in San Diego.] She has unlimited
potential, just like Tiger did. She has beauty, intelligence,
personal strength, leadership and the physical assets of a
superb athlete. She started in the same garage Tiger started in
[at Earl's house in Cypress, Calif.], hitting into the same net,
using one of Tiger's old cut-down clubs."

7. For years you were creamed by writers who said you were the
Little League Father from Hell, predicting stuff Tiger couldn't
possibly attain. Now that he has, do you feel vindicated?

"When Tiger was one year old, I used to tell my friends what was
coming. They'd all laugh at me. The other day those friends came
over to the house and said, 'We came to apologize. We thought
you were just ranting and raving.' Yeah, it hurt to be called
pompous and a braggart, but it was only because I knew, and they
didn't. Everything I've said has come true. What you're seeing
now is only the tip of the iceberg. And that's still true. Tiger
is going to get better, more efficient and more effective."

8. Still think he'll be bigger than Gandhi?

"Tiger will be a more important figure outside of golf than in
it. He will make his mark on world history, probably through his
foundation. He'll impact nations. Do you recall the impact
Muhammad Ali had, even with his lack of education and his lack
of communication skills? Imagine someone with the education and
communication skills that Tiger has, somebody with a sense of
responsibility and purpose."

9. Ever get to see the U.S. Open trophy after he won it?

"See it? It's sitting on my hall table right now!"


"Tiger will be a more important figure outside of golf than in
it," says Earl Woods. "He will make his mark on world history."