Paulie Blog: “I am Tiger Woods”

Jan 27, 2011, 4:25 AM | Updated: Jan 29, 2011, 4:30 pm

“I Am Tiger Woods.” No, not Paulie 3-Putt. We’re flashing back to the title of the original Nike commercial trumpeting the arrival of the PGA prodigy himself – Tiger Woods.

Remember that? Remember how the spot was a silent movie of sorts, save the series of kids who stared down the camera and proclaimed “I Am Tiger Woods.”

Now, it’s Tiger’s turn. Not only to say it. But to answer it. To define it. To make us understand all over again what it means to be Tiger Woods.

This week, Tiger tees it up at Torrey Pines. And we know where he wants to be. He wants to be in first place for the first time in over a year, with his name on an oversized winner’s check. Sure.

But where is Tiger – really? Where is Tiger in his recovery? Where is Tiger in his rehab? Tiger rebuilt his swing, but what about his reputation? What about his relationships – from family to fans?

Maybe Nike should film a sequel and title it – “Where Am I Tiger Woods.”

Cuz, I know I’ll never forget where I was the very first time I ever interviewed Tiger Woods. Let’s hit rewind for a moment, back to 1993. Picture a national junior tourney, where you had 24 year old Paulie Pancake Makeup interviewing 17-year-old Tiger Woods. We stood alone, except for the camera man, just beyond the 18th green, where no one even asked for an autograph.

But that’s not why I still shake my head to this day. Instead, it’s a pair of other memories. First, how Tiger Woods – the teenager, still in high school – spoke so eloquently about race and golf, as we suspected he would for our feature story.

Now, do I recall precisely what Tiger said? Not quite. But I do remember this: not long before our interview, he left a 35 foot putt just short of the cup on the 17th hole. And Tiger was beside himself. He strangled his putter. He stomped across the green for the tap-in. And, all the while, he cursed himself under his breath something fierce. I stood dumbfounded that he genuinely expected himself to drop that putt. We’re talking 35 feet, at least.

Here in 2011, we know that Tiger totes around a driver, a putter, and a sand wedge in his golf bag. But what about that pathological competitive drive? Is that still somewhere in his bag? Cuz, if so, it will soon separate Tiger Woods from all the other golfers on tour – all over again.

“Who Am I Tiger Woods.” What if that was the working title of a new Nike commercial?

Could Tiger even answer the question?

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