Tiger Woods smiles when he wants to smile - not on photographers' request. Commentary: A day in Tiger's world: a livid Matt Lauer, wowed bus drivers & no FedEx Cup love

Tiger Woods, the No. 1 golfer in the world and pitchman extraordinaire, leads a complicated life. WorldGolf.com found out just how crazy it is during a day shadowing Woods in Manhattan.

NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. - Matt Lauer is mad at Tiger Woods' people. The Today Show host knows better than to actually get angry at Tiger himself - only Rory Sabbatini would be foolish enough to try that trick.

But Lauer is not pleased that the virtual Lauer in the on-air demonstration of Tiger's new video game has the same big bald spot on top of his head that the real Lauer sports.

"Matt Lauer had an issue with his bald spot," someone who attended the closed-door Today Show taping told WorldGolf.com. "He was honestly upset. And he let you know it."

It probably didn't help then that Tiger hit Lauer with this charmer: "That's not a bald spot, that's more like a divot" on air. Of course before Lauer could complain about his video game image, Woods himself had left the building.

Tiger Woods moves quickly. He's almost like an apparition in Nike red on one of these promotional press days to which he rarely lets himself be subjected. Now you see him, now you see the back of his rear bodyguard. Have a problem? Talk to His People. Or more accurately, one of his sponsor's people. Almost nobody gets as close as Tiger's real people. Matt Lauer? You can get in line like everyone else.

Ever wonder what it's like to be Tiger Woods? Tag along - or at least as close as Tiger's security force lets you get - as the world's greatest golfer spends a day in Manhattan and you'll get a pretty good idea. There's a livid Lauer, a bus driver who's so giddy over having Woods on his double decker that he forgets his way around the city and foolish photographers who think Tiger is going to follow commands.

And it's not even 11 a.m. yet.

Tiger came to New York City a few days after the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs kicked off without him and a few days before the second FedEx Cup tournament began in Boston. But PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem's personally-trumpeted playoffs are as much of a talking point for Tiger Woods as what he thinks of McLovin in Superbad.

"He's here for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08," an EA Sports PR flack firmly reiterates.

So much for Tiger's professed backing of the FedEx Cup. Woods can talk about being excited about the Cup in that monotone voice at on-site tournament press conferences - as he did again in Boston - all he wants. His actions - and inactions - scream everything but.

FedEx had delivery trucks moving through the congested city streets with golf balls and grass painted on their sides even as Tiger stayed Cup mum. He gives Finchem's playoffs about as much love as he gives Reebok.

"You'd like to play in every tournament, but you can't," Woods said.

Yes, Tiger actually said this. Which is like Bill Clinton saying he wants to be celibate. Or Idaho Senator Larry Craig insisting he'd like to avoid loitering in men's rooms.

Woods wants to play in as few tournaments as he can - and does.

Tiger doesn't do what he doesn't want to do. Except maybe ride on the top of an open-air two-level bus through the streets of Midtown surrounded by a bunch of Tiger Woods look-alikes. This is part of EA Sports' great promotional push, and Tiger makes sure his agent sits next to him for every minute of it. And it's easy to imagine Woods leaning in to give out plenty of grief.

It wouldn't be so bad if any of the look-alikes looked at all like Tiger. As it is, it appears EA Sports handed out red shirts and black Nike hats on a first-come, first-serve basis.

"No, no one's ever told me I look like Tiger Woods before," Rob Sherman, one of the "look-alikes" admits. "I think that's because I don't play golf though."

Yeah, that's the reason. Just like Rosie O'Donnell isn't mistaken for Angelina Jolie because she's not searching through Africa for a kid.

Tiger's new rules

It's not easy being Tiger Woods. The promotional model EA Sports brought in to smile and hand out free t-shirts isn't even hot enough to be mistaken for Elin's third cousin fifth removed.

The photographers crowding around the stage at a GameStop store keep shouting "Look up" or "Tiger, over here!" - not getting the clue on the ninth and 10th times he ignores them that Tiger Woods does not follow commands like some model on a string.

Tiger does his best to interact with the elementary school-age kids brought up to the stage to play the game against him. He lets them push all the buttons and drops in a "Nice shot, son" or a "You kicked my butt" or an "I do that" when one youngster airmails a video game shot onto a cart path.

Tiger doesn't say much. But whatever he does say seems guaranteed to be remembered by someone for life - no matter how insignificant and throwaway it sounds coming out his mouth.

"When he got off the bus, he said, 'Nice driving, dude,'" bus driver Daniel Sharrock gushes like a preteen who just ran into the stars of Disney's High School Musical 2.

It's a good thing Tiger knows Manhattan about as well as your average tourist from Kansas. Sharrock admits he forgot the way to Chelsea Piers, taking Woods on a long route with all those non look-alikes. "It's not every day you have Tiger Woods on your bus," Sharrock explains.

The only time Tiger looks at all relaxed comes in the seven minutes he spends on Chelsea Piers' driving range hitting trick shots. He uses two 2-irons, hitting them both more than 250 yards over a high net and into the Hudson River. This is Tiger Woods' life: experimenting with different 2-irons, hitting them farther on a whim than humanly possible.

"This is my agent's natural shot," he says, sending a golf ball screaming low to the far left. Tiger laughs at his own joke.

Soon, he is gone, headed for a private lunch break. The agent hustles back a few minutes later to retrieve his clubs. It's Tiger Woods' world. Everyone learns their place.

September 4, 2007

Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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