One of the reasons I have great admiration for Tiger Woods, the man, is how he handles his personal life. And that is best demonstrated by the way he and wife Elin have treated the birth of both their children Sam and Charlie.
Unlike most celebrities, who would rather sign million-dollar exclusive photo sessions with magazines and television channels (even if the intentions are as honourable as the money going to some deserving charity), Woods has never let such a private moment develop into a marketing exercise, or media frenzy.
Instead, Woods chose to upload his family pictures on his website and share it with millions of his fans, and distribute it free of cost to the news agencies. He would never let his family be 'exploited'. Sam and Charlie are a matter of joy for the Woods, and while they are happy to share it with their fans, they certainly don't want their children selling copies of magazines at such a tender age.
Woods is a man who is very clear about his priorities. Time and again he has made it known that his family takes precedence over everything else, including golf, or the hype generated by his success.
I am a firm believer that the reason Tiger has not been hounded by the paparazzi, is because he has not let them hound him. We have heard of so many Hollywood stars who often complain about the media intruding in their private life, but the moment a new film release is lined up, they start craving for the flashing camera. They'd pose and show their dentures to just about anyone.
Tiger will shortly be back in the media spotlight, though, as I am sure he is soon going to announce his comeback to competition golf. Coach Hank Haney, caddie Steve Williams, close friend Mark O'Meara; everyone who knows him well enough has confirmed he is ready to compete, and that he is looking better than before.
I have a feeling Tiger is going to choose Doral and the WGC-CA Championship for his return. That ensures him four rounds, and will give him enough time to fine-tune his game, or rectify the mistakes, in time for the Masters. He will also get a chance for a second showing in between Doral and Masters, which would definitely be Arnold Palmer's tournament at Bay Hill.
Meanwhile, there is a lot of buzz around Japanese teenager Ryo Ishikawa, who makes his PGA Tour debut at this week's Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles. Jeev Milkha Singh, who played a few rounds with Ishikawa during his stints in Japan, reckons the 17-year-old is the 'real deal'. For a small-built guy, Ishikawa hits a long ball, and has deft touch around the green. More importantly, Jeev says the best thing about him is how he handles the immense pressure of being a superstar in his golf-crazy nation.
So, keep an eye on the 'Shy Prince' this week.
- (Joy Chakravarty is the Editor of Middle East Golfer)