So, they keep buzzing about this golfer playing 45 minutes out of town this week who is supposed to be good. Like, really good. Numero-uno-in-the-world good.
His name is Eldrick Woods. I have no idea whether you've heard of him. But first, a confession:
I plead ignorance about most things golf. (In fact, I plead ignorance about everything golf, which is why I'm asking Post golf guru Len Shapiro at this very minute what 3 up means.)
Still, if you ask me, someone needs to come up with a better name for Woods.
I mean, Eldrick?
All day, at some event called the Presidents Cup in Gainesville, they treated him like a child.
"Way to go, Tiger!" they kept yelling, as if he were their 5-year-old nephew.
"Come on, Sport, you can do it."
"Good job, Scooter!"
People, this is a very talented athlete. "Way to go, Tiger"? Show some respect and treat him like a man.
Anyhow, this guy Woods could have won the match with a 20-foot putt on the 14th hole. But the ball stopped a millimeter short of the hole, and he and his playing partner, Jim Furyk, had to wait for two guys from Australia to miss their putts a couple of holes later. This was one of two matches the Americans won on a day that the International team also won two and two ended even.
It's quite an event. Woods and Furyk and a couple of other guys who look like they might be able to win a free game or two of Putt-Putt competed against a consortium of international players who -- get this -- all speak English.
The Presidents Cup is modeled after the Ryder Cup, the tradition-steeped team competition between the United States and Europe. But it's not really the Ryder. The Presidents Cup is essentially Ryder Cup Lite -- all the big names without any of the animosity or fanfare. They say they play for their respective gods and countries. But it's more like a charity, best-ball scramble without cold Schaeffer's.
Stupid golf question No. 1: Why do we have to always take on THE REST OF THE WORLD? Our pool of talents comes from some cheeseball country club in Orlando. Theirs comes from exotic courses in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Fiji, South Africa and Argentina. We should lose every year. Why we can't have a cupcake tuneup like Belarus on the Presidents Cup schedule is outrageous.
They try to sell you a bill of goods on a lot of things out here. For example, Eldrick Woods.
The guy is good and all, but then you find out he plays better by himself than with friends. When he is paired with other golfers in international team events, Woods has a record that recalls Sidney Ponson.
The only playing partner Woods is any good with is a Swede -- his five-golf-cart-wreck gorgeous wife, Elin. She's the only international luck he's had, outside of a couple of British Opens.
Many people paid to cover this sport have come up with a lot of theories as to why Woods can't play well with others. Personally, I think Woods doesn't play very well in these events because he doesn't want to get invited to any more charity scrambles where he'll be expected to puff cigars with 37-handicaps. I mean, if he can't deliver in the clutch against your corporate partners, you might as well invite Greg Norman.
All this losing aside, the gallery still follows him like he has a flute and they're all rats, gleefully being led to their watery deaths.
A lot of people gave Woods's father grief a few years ago when he said his son could be bigger than Gandhi. But I see what Earl was talking about. At the third hole, this guy parts the crowd like the Red Sea in order to shank a chip. After each tee shot, he twirls his club like a bandleader twirls a baton, and the people follow, waiting for his next utterance. His shots are shown on a big screen in slow motion, like a real-time instructional video.
If he was Joe Gibbs, I could understand. But some golfer who entered yesterday without a win in Presidents Cup four-ball play?
On top of that, Woods uses an ornery bully of a caddie from New Zealand. The guy is named Steve Williams. Luckily for cameramen everywhere, Steve Williams is back in the Southern Hemisphere this week for the birth of his child.
Fortunately, Steve Williams is not here to accost people who want to take Woods's picture.
Unfortunately, he reproduces.
Adding to the intrigue, Furyk, Woods's playing partner yesterday, was using Woods's former caddie, Fluff Cowan, whom Woods justifiably fired years ago for being named Fluff. Let's be honest: You cannot have a Fluff telling an Eldrick to use a 9-iron at a PGA Tour event.
Another confession: Following Woods around for a few holes was a treat. He has this stateliness about him, this head-held-high, I'm-Eldrick-and-you're-not way about him.
He hits the ball far, too. Like, really far. Sometimes, it even lands right next to the hole. I was sitting behind the guy on the par-3, 215-yard second hole at about 1 p.m. yesterday. He unleashed a moon shot that sailed high into the stratosphere and then stopped dead, five feet from the hole.
It was surreal, as if I was playing an EA Sports video game and I controlled Woods with the joystick. It was then I realized he needed a nickname. Now.
Eldrick "The Eagle" Woods.
Works, huh? No?
Look, I don't know much about this sport. But I do know the office was right.
This guy is good. I understand his presence here was patriotic, that this was for charity. But after winning his first Presidents Cup four-ball match yesterday, Woods really should consider doing this for a living.