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Eight ways to tame Tiger

Special to Page 2

TULSA, Okla. -- The world's greatest golfer might have shot a 4-over 74 in the first round of the U.S. Open, but we all know he's just fooling around.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods found the rough early and often in his first round.
It's just a matter of holes before Hale Irwin goes back to his rocking chair and vacates the top of the leaderboard for Woods, who is rumored to have signed a 10-year, $40 million pact with the top spots of leaderboards in his latest megadeal.

But we are a public service, so forthwith, a primer for the field at Southern Hills -- Eight Ways to Tame Tiger.

1. Pour salt in his bottled water
Are you kidding? Have you walked 18 in the steambath known as Tulsa? Without water, you're done. You might as well be a longhorn skull stuck in the ground.

If an enterprising player can pour a few pounds of Na-cl in Tiger's H-two-oh, he won't see fairways in front of him: He'll see acres and acres of tumbleweed blowing across the Oklahoma plains, and he'll be double-bogeying his way to a missed cut.

2. Add more media to his entourage
The clump of humanity that traipses from hole to hole with Tiger at the U.S. Open is hilarious. Overweight scribes in ill-fitting shorts with unsightly sweat marks are getting in Tiger's sightlines, causing him to back off shots, and generally ruining his vibe.

Steve Williams
Without caddie Steve Williams, Tiger would have no one to play the heavy.
At the Masters, scribes are not allowed between the ropes. At the U.S. Open, Tiger doesn't just have a caddie and 14 clubs -- he's got a gawking fan club of about 50 dorks crouching near his swing plane, falling over each other and kneeling in the grass, tearing muscles every time they drag their out-of-shape bodies from the kneeling position up. It drives him nuts. Have a player bribe a few gallery members to don press badges, and Tiger's concentration is an ash.

3. Put duct tape on Steve Williams' mouth
This is a follow up to No. 2. When the media horde awkwardly plops down near a tee box, it's Tiger's Kiwi caddie Williams who plays the heavy. "Quiet, please!" he'll shout if he's in a good mood. If he's feeling peckish, he'll bark, "No moving!" mean as the Wicked Witch of the East. If he's really in a bad mood, he'll howl, "We're ready to play, siddown!" as if world peace hung in the balance.

It's enough to scare small children, and put them off the game forever. Tiger has Steve to play Bad Cop, but if Steve can be chloroformed and duct-taped, Woods will have nobody to be the Designated Meanie.

4. Sabotage Tiger's wardrobe
The world's No. 1 player is put together. He has Nike plan those spiffy outfits months in advance, and the kid looks tight: Tailored gray slacks, tasteful polos, black golf shoes. No denying, he's got the look. But no denying also, he would be lost without his fashion advisor.

We've seen that footage of Tiger from his Amateur days. There's a reason his Stanford teammates called him, "Urkel."

Tiger Woods
Without his traditional Sunday red, Tiger Woods would surely crumble.
Left to his own devices, he might exchange "Sunday Red" for "McDonald's Grimace Purple." This would certainly throw him off his game, as well as affect his ability to concentrate on putts when gallery members are yelling: "Hey, Grimace!"

5. Have M.J. and Sir Charles follow his gallery
We hear they're in Tulsa, renting a house to lend support for their pal. Clearly, based on Tiger's 4-over first round, the partying might be getting a little too good. The card games, the heckling from Barkley, the time spent comparing Rolexes with Jordan -- it's enough to shake Tiger's usually steely concentration.

If Jordan and Barkley followed his gallery, Woods might never concentrate. He'd be too busy planning a poker game with his pals (minimum bet: A Lexus); or too busy comparing photos of private planes; or too busy arguing where the buddies would party next: Fiji or Cannes? With whom: Heidi Klum or Angelina Jolie? A surefire concentration-breaker.

6. Swap the Nike Tour Accuracy for the old exploding ball trick
At best, it'd cost Tiger a couple of strokes. At worst, it's a hilarious old-school trick right up there with the whoopee cushion and the rubber chicken, fresh out of the icebox, stuffed down his sheets at night. A can't-miss gag.

Phil Mickelson
You think Lefty is going to stand toe-to-toe with El Tigre?
7. Arrange for a better field
Come on. Mickelson, the human marshmallow? Duval, who can't see the lines of his putts through the wraparounds? Ernie, who won two of these and doesn't have any need or desire to win another?

Bottom line: If the field is going to survive Tiger, the field is going to have to exchange itself for a better field. Details? They can be worked out.

8. Vote him off the leaderboard
This is the coolest idea! Jeff Probst as the starter! Tina as the gallery member who pretends to like Tiger, only to vote him off! Colby as the caddie who sees Tiger as the Keith of the golf world!

Oh, wait. "Survivor" is way unhip, isn't it? Totally "People" magazine. So, like, two months ago.

Shoot. Can we go back to getting a better field?

Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes the "Monday Morning Water Cooler" every week for Page 2.

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