There is One Tiger Woods, and Dozens of Hopefuls

I Am Not Tiger Woods.

This has been apparent to golfers since the world's No. 1 player cut his famous Nike commercial 12 years ago. Although the ad played to his connection to galleries diverse in age, ethnicity and social and economic backgrounds, golfers of all stripes quickly discovered they can hardly associate their games with his.

"If you ever get half as good as Tiger, you'd be a pretty good golfer," PGA Tour pro Geoff Ogilvy said last year when Woods won seven times, captured his 13th major, at the PGA Championship, and won the inaugural FedExCup playoffs.

"We almost expect him to win all the tournaments that he's playing," frequent practice round partner, good friend and colleague Charles Howell III said last week.

As Woods tees off at 2:02 p.m. ET Wednesday (2-6 p.m., Golf Channel) in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Marana, Ariz., near Tucson, he's firing on all cylinders again. He has won five of his last six Tour events and seven of his last eight tournaments worldwide. Dating to the 2006 British Open, he has won 17 of 27 events.

He's playing so well that when he blitzed the field by eight shots at the Buick Invitational in San Diego in his 2008 debut, talk of an undefeated season started percolating. Woods, who will play 16-18 Tour events this year, even has declared the Grand Slam to be "easily within reach."

"Besides a 155-foot yacht, homes all over the place and a great quality of life, I'd like to have his determination, focus, work ethic, will to win and will not to lose," close friend and Champions Tour player John Cook says.

Here's what others desire:

His long game

"I want his driving distance," LPGA star Natalie Gulbis says. "I would probably drive half of the greens, reach all the par-5s in two. I'd putt for a lot of eagles."

Actor and comedian Mark Curry, formerly of the 1990s sitcom Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, would like to hang with Woods off the tee.

"If you're golfing, and you're in front of a crowd, you want that first drive from the first tee to be awe-inspiring," Curry says. "Four hundred yards! Who cares about the rest of the game? Wind it up and whack that baby!"

Daniel "Kid Poker" Negreanu, who has won three bracelets in the World Series of Poker, agrees.

"I hit the ball like the vegetarian that I am, so I would love to have his 3-wood and his long irons," he says. "It would make the game so much easier. I wouldn't have to play from the forward tees anymore."

His work ethic

No one outworked Hall of Famer Lee Trevino. Same goes for Woods.

"He gets his confidence from hard work, and that is how I got mine," says Trevino, who won six majors. "The harder Tiger works, the more he expects to win. With his talent, he's unstoppable."

Nearly unstoppable. Mike Weir, who won the 2003 Masters, beat Woods in singles at last year's Presidents Cup.

"He's always working to get better, and I would love to have the strength of his mind and determination," Weir says. "I have it somewhat, I think, which is part of the reason I've been successful. But Tiger has taken it to a different level."

His mind

"I love Tiger's competitiveness, dedication and determination," says basketball Hall of Famer Rick Barry, who has won long-driving contests. "How many athletes who have been recognized as the best in the world have changed their games not once but twice" to improve?

Martial artist/actor JetLi, appearing in this year's The Mummy, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, wants to unravel Woods' secrets. "He never gives up," Li says. "That's the message. Despite all the success he has had … everything is new to him. Every year is a new year."

ESPN college basketball analyst and radio host Doug Gottlieb is succinct: "His nerves of steel."

Dave Stockton, two-time PGA Championship winner and former U.S. Ryder Cup captain, would take Woods' imagination.

"Jack Nicklaus used to go out and practice on a U.S. Open course and then tell everyone what score it would take to win," he says. "He always saw something the rest of us couldn't see. I see Tiger doing the same things. He envisions situations perfectly."

His short game

"While I think of myself as a pretty good putter, he's probably the best putter in the world. He always strokes it with confidence. I'd love to have his fearlessness on the greens," says Chris DiMarco, who lost to Woods in a playoff at the 2005 Masters.

Hunter, fisherman and common man Boo Weekley says he pretty much has everything he wants in life … except Woods' touch on the greens.

"I'd like to borrow his putting for a couple years, and then he can have it back," the Tour pro says.

Charles Warren, a three-time winner on the Nationwide Tour in search of first PGA Tour victory, says he wants Woods' entire short game.

"His chipping and bunker play are so great. It's one of the things that stick out when you play with him," Warren says. "He's so aggressive with his … chipping, his flop shots, his bump-and-runs."

The Donald agrees. Real estate magnate and TV personality Donald Trump carries a 4 handicap. It would be lower with Woods' short game.

"Tiger Woods is the greatest chipper and putter I have ever seen," he says. "That is what I would take."

His riches

Jimmie Johnson, two-time defending champion in NASCAR's top tier, does fine in the endorsement world. And then there's Woods, who pulls in an estimated $100 million a year endorsing Nike, Buick, Gatorade, Accenture, Gillette, and EA Sports, among others.

"I wish I had his $100 million contract with Nike," Johnson says of Woods' five-year deal.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, a Super Bowl champ, wants Woods' putting skills, "because I seem to have lost mine and all his Nike golf gear."

Atlanta Braves pitcher and scratch golfer John Smoltz wants "the money back that I've lost to him over the years on the golf course. I would want his golf cart. The one with the spinners and the amazing sound system" and the satellite radio, cooler, headlights and horn.

Jim Courier, who won four Grand Slam titles in tennis and plays the Champions Series, is blunt: "Yes, he is a great athlete, yadda, yadda, yadda, but let's get right to the materialistic point here — I'd take his jet."

His traits

Shock rocker Alice Cooper alarmed legions of fans with stage shows featuring giant spider webs, guillotines, boa constrictors and electric chairs. With the golf course now his frequent stage, Cooper, who plays to a solid 4 handicap, thirsts for the shock value Woods exhibits with clubs in hand.

"Tiger's both hero and villain. He's a hero to all the golfers in the world and at the same time a villain to all the PGA Tour players who have to try to compete with him," Cooper says. "His intimidation level is one of his greatest weapons … and he probably hasn't hit his peak yet."

For poker player Daniel Negreanu, it's Woods' "death stare. You see that red shirt and that death stare, you're dead."


LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens would like for Woods' daughter, Sam, to "join the LPGA tour. She would be a great member."

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, whose devotion to his team is legendary, admires that Woods "makes sure to have fun. Tiger recognizes what a unique position he is in. He works hard to stay on top, and he works hard to enjoy every minute of it."

Tennis great Martina Navratilova admires Woods' "beautiful, full lips. Mine are fine, but his are fantastic!"

Two-time Masters winner Ben Crenshaw holds out hope if Steve Williams retires as Woods' caddie: "I want to take his bag."

Fellow pro Charles Howell III wants to keep holding over Woods' head that he has won in Los Angeles; Woods has not. "I do remind him of that quite often. He mentions all of his green jackets quite quickly, and that has a very quieting effect on me." Contributing: Reid Cherner, Chris Colston, Joe Fleming, Jerry Potter and Jill Lieber Steeg