- Associated Press - Thursday, August 5, 2010

AKRON, OHIO (AP) - A two-hour window Wednesday provided a snapshot of a strange year for Tiger Woods.

The guy famous for sweeping dew off the grass with his crack-of-dawn practice rounds arrived shortly before lunch on the eve of the Bridgestone Invitational to play nine holes at Firestone. That’s not terribly unusual, for Woods knows Firestone as well as any other course, and it’s where he made history last year as the only player to win a PGA Tour event seven times on the same course.

One tee shot into his practice round, the siren sounded because of dangerous weather.

He wound up playing only four holes.

This year has been anything but routine. Woods didn’t start until the Masters while coping with the fallout from his extramarital affairs. He has gone seven tournaments without winning, the longest drought at the start of any season since he turned pro.

And in comments that were veiled yet somewhat revealing, Woods said the distractions he faces in his personal life affect him as much during practice as they do during tournaments.

“I haven’t been able to practice as long as I normally have when I’ve been out here,” Woods said. “People have been wanting more of my time. I’ve had more things going on once I’m at a tournament site than I have in the past, and for different reasons. That’s obviously taken a little bit of a toll on my preparation.

“Things are starting to normalize,” he said. “And that’s been a good sign.”

Who wants more of his time? Woods didn’t elaborate.

He has refused to answer questions about his personal life. Notah Begay, one of his best friends, mentioned last month at a press conference that Woods is going through a divorce, which most have suspected.

That would be one thing that Woods couldn’t turn over to his business team to handle.

“It’s been difficult,” Woods said. “It’s been a trying time for a lot of people who are friends of mine and who know me. It’s been tough, no doubt.”

As for the golf? Woods believes it’s getting closer, and only he knows.

The results have not been impressive, especially considering the places he has been. This was supposed to be the year that Woods, with his 14 majors, made inroads into the record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus. But he fell apart early in the final round at Pebble Beach in the U.S. Open, and after opening with a 65 in easy conditions at St. Andrews, he was never a factor the rest of the week.

The culprit has been putting, and Woods attributes that to not getting the right speed.

Story Continues →