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Tiger Woods on press defensive
September 29, 2010

Tiger Woods was back on the defensive on Tuesday as the world number one stonewalled his way through an excruciating news conference ahead of his Ryder Cup return.

On the back of an extraordinary year on and off the course and having missed the 2008 edition through injury, Woods gave the impression of a man who would rather have been anywhere else than facing the world’s media who packed the interview room to overflowing.

Former England soccer boss Sven-Goran Eriksson earned the nickname “rubber wall” from the Italian media during his days as a Serie A club coach, thanks to his ability to absorb their questions without giving anything back.

Woods, never the most forthcoming interviewee even in his pomp, was on similar form after his practice round alongside Hunter Mahan.

After the tearful apologies and promises of a new approach to life “within the rules” after the revelations of numerous affairs that led to divorce from wife Elin, Woods was in no mood for another dousing.

After dealing with a few gentle opening questions on the condition of the course and the warmth of the Welsh welcome, Woods was soon asked the questions on everybody’s mind.

‘Is this an emotionally more difficult week for you because of the prominent role the wives tend to play at the Ryder Cup,’ the American was asked.

“I think it’s a great week. We are all looking forward to it,” said Woods.

‘Have you sensed any change in the players, the wives’ relationships towards you? Have they been supportive or have you sensed a cooling in that relationship?’, was another question.

“No,” said Woods. “We are here as a team. We’re here to win the Ryder Cup.”

Another questioner tried with ‘Given what you’ve been through this year, how important would a U.S. win be for you personally?’

“It would be great to get a win and I’m looking forward to getting out there and contributing and hopefully get some points and hopefully we can get this thing done,” countered Woods.

His form this year has been the worst of his professional career, with wayward driving and un-Tiger-like putting failures.

Woods failed to qualify for the money-spinning FedExCup series and needed a wildcard selection by captain Corey Pavin to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

He retreated into his comfort zone when discussing the importance of “understanding the fixes”, his shadow swings, his “reps” and how important the “lines and numbers” would be this week, but put up the barriers again when confronted with the bigger picture.

Asked if he felt he had to justify his wildcard, he said: “Well, I just need to go out there and play”.

Pressed for his reaction to Europe’s Rory McIlroy saying he would like to play against him in the singles, he said “Me, too.”

‘Would you like to elaborate?’, asked the reporter. “No,” replied Woods.

Someone else asked if there were any particular European players he relished playing against but Woods was in no mood to run through anything from the past.

“I think just anybody, really,” he said. “When you get out there in singles your responsibility as a player is to try and get that one point.”

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