Tiger Woods' comeback is far from Hogan-esque
Through two days, Tiger Woods' golf game and course demeanor have been beyond reproach. He's hitting fairways (71.4%) and greens in regulation (72.2%), putting well (zero three-putts) and launching bombs off the tee (287.3 yards, eighth in the field).
He's smiling at fans, literally reaching out to gallery members on occasion, and has yet to take anyone's name in vain.
That's why he's six under par after two rounds and just two behind co-leaders Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood.
He'll tee off today at 11:35 a.m. Pacific time as an enormous favorite to win his fifth green jacket. His updated odds on bodog.com are 11/10, essentially even money.
But Woods is still drawing criticism here. One, for his Nike ad featuring the voice of his deceased father. Two, for twice comparing his situation to that of Ben Hogan, who survived a nearly fatal car accident in 1949 and then won the 1950 U.S. Open.
Woods said his 144-day layoff, caused by his wandering eye, forced him to become more focused during practice sessions.
"As I said in here yesterday, it's very similar to what Hogan went through coming off the accident," Woods said Friday. "I just couldn't play that much and when you can't play, you have to concentrate on your practice.
"It would have been nice to actually have a normal schedule and play, but that's neither here nor there."
Doesn't that last line make it sound as if some outside force prevented Woods from having a normal schedule? At the very least, the Hogan comparison seems tacky, self-serving and ignorant of history.
Hogan threw himself in front of wife Valerie, in the passenger's seat, to protect her from the full impact caused by an oncoming Greyhound bus. Hogan's pelvis and collarbone were broken, he fractured his left ankle, chipped a rib and survived near-fatal blood clots.
Woods' SUV accident gave him a sore neck and bloody lip. He spent nearly five months away from competition by choice, not necessity.
"There's no comparison," opined Golf Digest's Dan Jenkins, a walking Hogan encyclopedia and perhaps the greatest golf writer who has lived.
Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe also teed off on Woods today, writing: "Tiger, cease these self-aggrandizing Ben Hogan references immediately."
-- Teddy Greenstein
Photo: Tiger Woods after the 14th hole on Friday. Credit: Tom Dominick / McClatchy-Tribune