Tiger's thoughts on ill father

2006-04-04 22:16
Augusta, Georgia - Tiger Woods is using the willpower and determination instilled in him by his father, Earl, to focus on defending his Masters title while his father struggles against the spread of cancer.

Top-ranked Woods seeks his 11th major title and fifth Masters green jacket at Augusta National Golf Club while his father remains in his California home.

This is the first time in Woods's 12 Masters starts that Earl has been too weak to be there.

"For me, it's awfully tough. It's hard for my mom as well and everyone who knows my father. It's very difficult," Woods said on Tuesday.

"It puts it in perspective really quick when you hit a bad shot out there when you're thinking about situations like that."

Woods realises his remaining time with his father might be short, but admires his dad's determination.

"He's fighting," Woods said. "If anyone can fight and grind it out, it would be him. He's as tough as they come."

He'll watch Tiger on TV

Woods, who speaks with his father every day, wants to give his dad a boost by contending for another major title.

"It's something for him to look forward to and hopefully I'm playing well and it gets him a little fired up that I've got a chance to win the tournament," said Woods.

"If I'm on TV, more than likely he'll watch. So hopefully I can get on TV."

Woods has coped with his father's ill health since before capturing his first major crown.

"I have been dealing with it for years, so nothing has changed. It is what it is and you just deal with it," said Woods.

"Everyone who has had a family member or lived that long, you're going to deal with it sometime.

His game is on his mind

"Unfortunately it's our time right now. As far as that being a distraction, no.

"When you are away from the course, obviously, things are a little bit different. But, when you're at the course you are playing. You are grinding.

"I have enough on my mind trying to place my shots and what angles I need to have or where I need to be for certain pins, just trying to get a feel for the course. So, I've got enough on my head right now."

Two weeks ago, Woods made an unexpected cross-country flight on the eve of the Players Championship to visit his ailing father, whose reaction was, 'What the hell are you doing here?'"

It is a good sign

"It was nice to have him say that because the things he has been dealing with, it's nice for him to be that feisty. It's a good sign," Woods said.

Asked if he might make such a trip this week, Woods replied, "I hope not."

Kultida Woods, Tiger's Thai mother, is often credited with hardening Woods through discipline.

But, Earl's contribution to Tiger's fighting spirit has never been clearer, Woods said, than his battle with cancer.

"I'm very proud of my dad. He's a tremendous fighter, got an unbelievable will and hopefully he has passed a little bit of that on to me. That's kind of how I play," said Woods.

Nearly died of complications

"My competitiveness on the golf course, I guess that's how it comes across, is it's willpower. I got a lot of that from my dad."

Earl Woods, 74, almost never lived to see his son become the first black golfer to win a major, having nearly died of complications in bypass surgery after a heart attack.

He defied doctor's advice to attend the 1997 tournament here.

When Woods achieved the feat in a record-shattering romp at Augusta National, he walked off the green and into an emotional embrace with his father.

"My dad, actually he was dead and then somehow they revived him and they had complications in his surgery," said Woods.

"He wasn't supposed to come here, but somehow came and gave me a putting lesson and I putted great."

Last year, Woods made an emotional victory dedication to his father after a dramatic play-off triumph over Chris DiMarco. Earl Woods was at a rented home nearby, but unable to come to the course.

"It was important for us as a family because my dad couldn't make it out to the golf course, but at least he was able to travel. That's no longer the case," said Woods.

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