One year later, focus on Woods is score, not words

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MARANA, ARIZ. (AP) - Tiger Woods is the talk of the Match Play Championship again.

At least this year it’s about how he plays, not what he says.

That doesn’t mean his prospects are any better.

Woods passes another mile marker this week on what appears to be a slow road back. The first was Thanksgiving, the one-year anniversary of when his life came crashing down around him. The next one will be at the Masters, where he finally returned to golf.

It was a year ago at the Match Play Championship that Woods showed just how much golf revolves around him.

“The day the world came to a standstill,” Retief Goosen said with a grin.

The opening round Wednesday was no more than three hours old when word came that Woods, who had been in seclusion since revelations of his extramarital affairs, would be speaking publicly for the first time from across the country at the TPC Sawgrass.

Just like that, the 32 winners that day didn’t matter.

Players were ignored again two days later, when Woods gave a 13 1/2-minute statement that was televised around the world.

He spoke about two hours before third-round matches, and Dove Mountain was buzzing with media. They weren’t there for the golf.

“I remember turning up to the golf course and there were 50 media guys around the clubhouse, waiting for us to go to the locker room,” Paul Casey said. “It was headphones in and hat on. Even if I did want to speak, I didn’t know what to say. We were trying to absorb it as much as everyone. It was strange. I don’t know about the rest of the players. I watched it with curiosity.”

Goosen avoided the media by going through a back entrance, and he wasn’t alone.

“They were all standing there waiting for you to say something and blow it all out of proportion,” Goosen said.

Eight players advanced to the quarterfinals that day, a forgotten achievement. One of them was Stewart Cink, who went 19 holes to beat Charl Schwartzel, then walked back toward the clubhouse to see a larger-than-usual group of reporters waiting for him.

He was asked seven questions _ all about Woods.

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