TIGER WOODS hasperfected the art of saying nothing in his press conferences, but sometimes hecan't help himself. He is occasionally profound and often sensible. Asked onceto summarize what his father, Earl, gave him, Tiger answered in a word: love.When asked about making a swing change or his wife's goal of running a marathonor his own rehab from surgery, he often repeats the same phrase: "You haveto take baby steps."
I've alwaysdespised running, but my son, Ian, enjoys those Saturday-morning 5Kfund-raisers, and for the last couple of years I'd been taking him to them,standing at the finish line with my coffee and paper. At one point my friendJay Hass said, "Do you ever run the races with him?" That's Jay Hass,the distance runner--10 handicapper from Philadelphia, not Jay Haas, theChampions tour stalwart, although at the Sawgrass Marriott one time, I did getJay Haas's room when I was trying to reach Jay Hass.
Inspired by JayHass, and thinking of Tiger and his baby steps, I entered a three-mile racewith Ian a year ago in downtown Philadelphia. I jogged and finished. LastThanksgiving brought the Turkey Trot in Fairmount Park, a five-miler. Jogged,finished. The other day I was among 19,172 folks gathered in North Philadelphiafor the Broad Street Run, a 10-mile race. For the first seven or eight miles Iwent at the pace that the latter-day Barry Bonds employed to crawl to firstafter drawing yet another walk.
They share much,golf and running, chiefly the ruthlessness of the numbers, if you're keepingscore. There's no place to hide. With every step and every shot, your numbergoes up. Watching Tiger run on some suburban road somewhere—early morning,alone, big sweat, wearing a watch, an afternoon tee time awaiting him—isinspiring. Elin, Tiger's missus, is working her way toward a 26.2-miler, but ahalf-marathon is as far as Tiger wants to race, he says. Earl used to say thatTiger could have been an Olympic hurdler. Tiger's fitness is part of hissuperiority complex, not that he'd ever admit to it. But down the stretch hethinks he deserves victory more than the other guys because he has workedharder.
The 10-miler wasa straight shot down Broad Street, past raise-the-dead churches and City Halland pricey hotels and Philadelphia's temples of sport, the homes of the Eaglesand the Sixers and the others. I high-fived the mayor and the governor and,near the end, my own missus. In my mind (and in my mind only), I was actuallyrunning by then. I could see taking on a half-marathon, someday. Babysteps.
In the afternoon,legs sore, I went to the range, driver in hand. I've been hitting pull-hooksall season long, short and in the trees. I worked on cutting out the hook part.A pull you can talk to, but not a hook.
Baby steps, babysteps.
TRUST ME by RICK LIPSEY
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LITTLE CROWD + ANGRY DIVAS √ó WHINE FESTIVAL + BADJUDGMENT - HELPERS = CRAZY RULE
ROBERT BECK (WOODS)
RUNNING MAN Woods's father, Earl, said Tiger could have been an Olympic hurdler.
PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/GETTY IMAGES (CROWD)
MATT SAYLES/AP (MARIAH CAREY)
ANDREAS RENTZ/GETTY IMAGES (GRAPES)
KEVIN WINTER/GETTY IMAGES (PAULA ABDUL)
DAVE HOGAN/GETTY IMAGES (ELVES)
NIKOLA SOLIC/AFP/GETTY IMAGES (SADDAM HUSSEIN)