Tiger's focus not on golf

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- There is a commercial that runs on TV featuring NBA star Allen Iverson.

It details all the riches a jump shot can bestow on its owner. Things like money, power, love, etc.

The punchline is: "But none of these things can get you a jump shot."

For some reason, that commercial crossed my mind as Tiger Woods stood in front of the cameras late yesterday afternoon, eyes glistening as he talked about his dad, who is dying of cancer in California. In that moment, Tiger wasn't the best golfer in history. Or his sport's most recognizable face. Or its richest man.

He was just a son scared to face tomorrow without his dad.

A few feet away, Irishman Padraig Harrington watched Woods try to put into words his feelings for his father and it brought back memories of his own struggle last year when his father was dying.

ORDINARY PERSON

"Just because he's the No. 1 golfer in the world, the No. 1 sportsman in the world, when it comes down to something like that, you're just an ordinary person," Harrington said.

"I didn't, and I'm sure Tiger doesn't, have anything enlightening to say on the matter. Because when it comes to bereavement in your family, you're just a normal person. It doesn't give you the ability to handle it any better or supply you with words of wisdom. It's something you try to go through, but it's not very easy."

Earl Woods is a 74-year-old former Green Beret and he's fighting the good fight. The dire state of his health came into focus when Tiger decided on Tuesday afternoon to pay his father a surprise visit because he was having a particularly bad day.

"I just decided to go out there and make his spirits feel a little better," Tiger said. "He's a very stubborn man, which is good, and he's fighting as hard as he can.

"He was happy to see me. He said 'What the hell are you doing here?' It was nice to hear that."

Tiger returned to Florida late Thursday night.

Yesterday, he was here at the Players Championship in body, if not in spirit.

"(Yesterday) was a blessing in disguise to have a pairing like I did with Darren (Clarke)," Woods said.

"Darren is struggling with the same thing so we were kind of talking about it all day."

Clarke's wife, Heather, had breast cancer five years ago but the disease came back a year ago and she has been receiving treatment ever since.

"It puts things in perspective real quick," Woods said.

"You hit a bad shot and, yeah, you want to get upset with yourself because you know you can hit better shots. But you know what, in the whole scheme of things, it's just a golf shot."

Woods struggled early yesterday, shooting 37 on the front nine, but made a few decent shots on the back nine to finish at even par. Still, he obviously was in a different place mentally.

During his visit, for one of the few times in their lives, the discussion between father and son wasn't about Tiger or golf.

"We just talked about him," Tiger said.

"It's not about me hitting golf shots. It's about him. I want him around as long as possible. It's about him feeling better, him fighting, him hanging in there.

"I'm just trying to make my dad understand that I love him dearly and I want him to hang in and keep fighting, which he always does. As I said, he's very stubborn.

"That's good to see."

Earl Woods gave his son just about everything Tiger would need in life: athletic skill, mental strength, discipline and the entire package has given him more wealth, more fame, more power than perhaps any athlete in history.

But none of those things can give him a new father.


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