Deutsche Bank SAP Open TPC of Europe
Deutsche Bank SAP Open TPC of Europe
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Tiger Woods centre of attention at SAP Open

Tiger Woods experienced the re-birth of "Tiger-mania" as he swept into Heidelburg as the star attraction in the £1.2million Deutsche Bank - SAP Open TPC of Europe.

The arrival of the 23-year-old at the St Leon-Rot course turned into the kind of media circus Woods thought had become a thing of the past over two years on from his Masters triumph at Augusta.

Emerging stars such as world number one David Duval and Spanish sensation Sergio Garcia have taken some of the spotlight off Woods, a development he has been more than happy to see.

But his first appearance in a European Tour event on the continent provoked a flurry of interest that had the interview room bursting to overflowing with journalists, cameramen and autograph hunters all straining to hear every word.

"I haven't seen this for some time," said Woods, whose only European tour win came in the Johnnie Walker Classic in Thailand last year.

"In the States the press are starting to get accustomed to me and I know some of them on a first name basis, so today is not your typical day.

"David Duval has taken a lot of the media attention off me which is good.

"I don't have to do the preview press conference every week, now he has to do it which is great!"

An easing of the pressure has seen Woods appear much more relaxed and at ease with himself and all the attention, a change also attributed to his growing maturity.

"I was only 21 when I won The Masters and at such a young age most people would have dealt with it all the same way but I'm starting to grow up as a person.

"Mark O'Meara has helped me a lot on how to deal with tour life, all the travelling, and how to get away from it all, and I like to do that by going fishing, playing tennis and shooting a few hoops."

Wednesday's press conference had Woods jumping through a few linguistic hoops when he was asked some unique questions from the local media.

When one reporter asked what was the first thing he thought of in connection with Germany, Woods squirmed not to mention what he termed "not the best things I learned from history at school".

He was on safer ground when asked about Garcia's performance at last week's Byron Nelson Classic in America where the 19-year-old finished tied for third, four places better than Woods.

"Sergio played extremely well last week," said Woods, reported to be receiving 1million US dollars for his week's work including Wednesday's "Shoot-Out", where he partnered good friend Mark O'Meara.

"It's always important to get off to a good start in your professional career and he's done that.

"He's causing a lot of interest and it's great to see.

"It's nice when fresh faces come on tour and to come out at 19 and do what he is doing is great.

"He's not your typical 19-year-old and he has an inordinate amount of talent.

"I get asked a lot about him but I don't mind talking about him because he's such a nice kid."

Woods, who revealed his father Earl is doing well in his battle against prostate cancer, is joined in the strongest field so far in Europe this year by five more members of the world's top 10.

Worksop's Lee Westwood has been cleared to defend his title after overcoming the pains in his arms and shoulders which forced him to miss the last two events.

And in-form Colin Montgomerie will be gunning for back to back wins after his victory at the Benson and Hedges International Open on Sunday.

Also chasing the £200,000 first prize in the star-studded field are double US Open champion Ernie Els, former Open champion Nick Price, Ryder Cup player Jesper Parnevik of Sweden and six-time major winner Nick Faldo.