It all got a bit silly at the US PGA Championship on Wednesday as Tiger Woods finally answered the $64 million dollar question of whether or not the 14-time Major winner would compete this week at Valhalla following his withdrawal from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last Sunday.
Tiger’s bad back wasn’t bad enough to stop him coming back to the big stage just four days after apparently aggravating the injury he had surgery on earlier in the year.
The level of media speculation surrounding the great American is just ludicrous, with TV cameramen despatched to the players’ parking lot at Valhalla to film an empty space for most of the day.
People were talking and tweeting all day after the news filtered through last night that he had been given an extension to the usual player registration deadline of 5pm on a Tuesday.
Would he turn up? Will he play again this year? Is he having more surgery? Will he arrive by car or helicopter? Will he speak to the hundreds of reporters looking for him all over the country? If not, will his back do any interviews? Has anyone managed to get that empty parking space to talk yet? It all got a wee bit nonsensical…..
Then came the one-line email from the PGA of America at 12:02 local time: “Four-time PGA Champion Tiger Woods has arrived at Valhalla Golf Club for the 96th PGA Championship.”
Cue more madness as grown men and women in the media centre stampeded towards that empty parking space. Where is he? I can’t see him? Is this a joke? Is he playing? What about that back thing? Has anyone seen him? He’s going to practice! To the range! Ahoy!
And there he was, warming up with coach Sean Foley much to the delight of the fans, the media, tournament organisers and TV executives the world over.
After clipping some wedges and irons off the hallowed turf of Valhalla, the three wood came out. But what about the driver? Will he hit it? Will he collapse when he unwinds at it?
He hit it. Hard. No ambulance required. Phew. To the first tee!
Then, after nine holes in the searing Kentucky heat, the man walked into the media pen and took to the stage to let the world know that his back was fine; it was not the same area as he had surgery; he was going to play; the course is nice.
What happened next was in keeping with the madness of the day. Woods revealed the wicked sense of humour that he is known to possess but very rarely reveal.
Question: Are you pain-free?
Tiger: Pain-free yes, except for the headache of talking to you guys.
And so another day in the life of golf’s biggest cat could continue as he walked off the stage and onto the back nine to finish his reconnaissance work ahead of his 08:35 Thursday morning tee time with fellow former US PGA champions Padraig Harrington and Phil Mickelson.
We’re still hoping that parking space will do an interview. Watch this space and all that....