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Tiger Woods set to resume golf talk

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Tiger Woods was minding his own business, winning four tournaments by mid-May, reclaiming his place as the world's best player, making a beeline toward history, when Sergio Garcia dropped a bucket of fried chicken in his lap.

Before that it was Vijay Singh and The Case of Bambi Spray. Then it was the always-exciting anchored putter debate. And just for fun, the chief executive of the European Tour channeled his inner Strom Thurmond.

So you can't blame Woods for wanting to play traffic cop and direct everybody back to golf's Pleasantville, where the world revolves around more mundane things, like breaking Sam Snead's PGA Tour victories record, playing in Jack Nicklaus' tournament this week, and counting the moments until Merion and the U.S. Open.

Woods is on a roll. He won the Farmers Insurance Open, the WGC-Cadillac Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players Championship. He also finished tied for fourth at the Masters. He's favored to win here at the Memorial. He's favored to win everywhere.

Look at the world golf rankings. He's No. 1. Same for the money list. Same for the FedEx Cup points list. Same for the Most Likely To Re-Grip Garcia list.

Just once this spring, Woods would like to go through a media session where he doesn't have to talk about anything more controversial than the soil mix of Muirfield Village's greens (in case you're interested: 90 percent sand, 5 percent peat, 5 percent "other") or his beloved Los Angeles Kings. Instead, his impressive 2013 season has been partly obscured by Veej and deer antler spray; the equipment catfight between the USGA, R&A and the Tour; his own botched ball drop at the Masters; and the recent clumsy remarks made by Garcia and European Tour boss George O'Grady.

There's no point in rehashing the particulars. Garcia said what he said. O'Grady said what he said. The comments were insensitive and tone-deaf, but not fatal.

Yet eight days after Garcia's fried chicken joke left grease marks on the Spaniard's reputation and six days after O'Grady tried to throw him a lifeline -- and drowned in the process -- Woods is still dealing with the topic. And we haven't even mentioned Colin Montgomerie's attempt to defend Garcia by calling the controversy "a mountain out of a molehill."

It's not a molehill if you're on the wrong end of what Garcia and O'Grady said. It's not a molehill if you're going for your fifth Tour win in just eight 2013 events, but you've got to answer a handful of questions about Garcia and his apology status. And it's not a molehill if you're asked about the broader themes of those comments.

"Well, I live it," Woods said. "It's happened my entire life and it's happened my entire career. So that doesn't surprise me. It exists all around the world, not just in the sport of golf. It exists everywhere. I know that a lot of people are trying to make a difference and trying to make it more fair for us all."

One of the most telling moments of the news conference -- Woods' first with the media since Garcia cracked (un)wise at the BMW PGA Championship -- was when someone went through the checklist of recent golf controversies.

"What is your reaction to that?" the reporter asked. "Is that good for golf? Does it show it's entering the realm of the NBA or NFL? Or where do you stand about that?"

Woods paused.

"Well," he said, "I've won four times this year."

Everyone in the room laughed. Woods smirked.

Even the great man himself, Memorial host and founder Jack Nicklaus, had to field a question about Garcia's comments.

"The Sergio-Tiger thing -- I mean, it's stupid," Nicklaus said. "I mean, do guys have an issue with one another? They usually resolve it themselves. You guys want to resolve it in the newspapers today. I mean, nobody needs that. And I think they both finally said it's enough. Forget it, guys. Let's move on."

Garcia and O'Grady have apologized. Woods has acknowledged the apologies. He might be steamed about the comments, but he has the good sense to want to distance himself from the Garcia mess.

Woods' 2013 season deserves better than to get lost in the swampland that is Singh, long putters, Garcia, fried foods, O'Grady, Montgomerie. The guy has won seven of his past 21 stroke-play events. He's going for his fifth win before the U.S. Open for the first time in his career. He's the defending champion at Jack's place.

This is good stuff. Better, much better, than poultry jokes.