THOMAS BOSWELL: Even Tiger Woods Needs Some Down Time

Tiger Woods discusses how he unwinds from major tournaments and previews the upcoming AT&T National with The Washington Post's Tom Boswell on Monday at Congressional Country Club. Video by Jonathan Forsythe/washingtonpost.comPhotos: The Washington Post, APAT&T National Official Website
By Thomas Boswell
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The world sees the laser look in Tiger Woods's eyes, especially when he is riveted, whole soul, on a major championship such as this month's Masters. So, we don't get to see much of the other Tiger, though he actually exists.

We've barely glimpsed the Woods who loves to lounge on his couch for a solid week, barely leaving the house. We don't see the Eldrick who dotes on his kids, never touches a golf club, takes in an Orlando Magic playoff game, roots for his beloved Yankees or, because he describes himself as "addicted" to baseball, even knows details of the Nationals' horrid season.

The reason we don't know this Woods is because he exists for just four weeks out of the entire golf season.

For decades, great golfers have analyzed the perfect preparation for the Masters, U.S. and British Opens, and PGA Championship. How much do you practice and play? What shots do you polish? Seldom mentioned: What should a great golfer do the week after a major? Like a black-ops commando, should he get debriefed, pick apart the mission while it's fresh in mind? Or work on the shots that failed you?

So, Tiger, master golf thinker of your time, what do you do?

"Nothing. I usually do nothing at all for a week," said Woods, who left Augusta National tied for sixth, steam coming from ears. "I don't touch a club. I barely leave the house. The last thing I want to do is go to a restaurant. I sit on the couch and watch TV. I used to play video games. Now I play with the kids. I chase Sam around, and Elin and I alternate with [baby] Charlie," said Woods, whose post-Masters hiatus ended Monday with a trip to Washington to promote his AT&T National at Congressional Country Club on July 4 weekend. "It just feels so good to come home.

"And I eat. You wouldn't believe how much. My metabolism is ridiculous anyway. I lose a lot of weight at a major. So I probably eat six meals a day for most people."

The on-course mystique that surrounds Woods is so thick, a kind of protective competitive moat that he has little interest in revealing how normal he can be. But on an obscure subject, the sickly Nationals, Woods suddenly turns into the person his friends often claim he is: the guy in the seat next to you at a game who's perilously close to a sports nerd.

"So, the Nationals are 1-10?" he volunteers. "And they misspelled their team name on a couple of their uniforms! I saw that. But it couldn't be the backup catcher. Wasn't it . . . "

"Their No. 3-4 hitters," I said of the now notorious "Natinals."

"That's when you know you're not going good," Woods said.

Tiger knows the Nats got Adam Dunn ("he can't run, can he?"), but wonders why they didn't go hard after free agent Milton Bradley (Cubs) instead. Oh, he's all over supersonic draft prospect Stephen Strasburg.

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