NB: Yeah. You actually win.
GWK: How long do you think a Tiger practice session last these days?
NB: You know, based on level of discomfort, I would say he’s putting in an hour to two hours still. That guy has got a high level of pain tolerance. He’s pushing it. He wants to play again. Don’t bet against him breaking that win record at some point down the road.
GWK: I was going to ask you that, if you think he’ll win again. Should Tiger be allowed in the elevated events?
NB: I think he should be allowed anywhere he wants. I think there’s got to be some sort of provision; anybody that’s made over a hundred million – he should have his own category. In terms of what he’s done for the Tour economically over the last 30 years and then just sort of as a de facto spokesperson now for what’s happening, he should be able to access those events, and I promise you, there won’t be one player in the PGA Tour system that would say anything about it.
GWK: What’s the biggest misconception about Tiger?
NB: That’s a great question. You know, I think the biggest misconception for me is that he’s unapproachable and intimidating, because once you get to know him, you ask Justin Thomas or ask some of the players that have gotten to know him real well over the last 20 years, Jason Day, once you get past the initial sort of, wow, like shock of I’m talking to Tiger Woods, this is my idol, this is my hero, once you get past that, he’s a jokester, he’s a prankster, he’s the kind of guy that he’ll put shaving cream in your shoes. He really loves to be one of the boys.
I think that was a huge turnaround for him when Davis asked him to be an assistant (Ryder Cup) captain at Hazeltine (in 2016). It rejuvenated him because he connected him with that next generation of great player, connected him with Spieth and Thomas and all the new young guys that were winning tournaments at the time. It allowed him to do two things, to become more comfortable with this new generation of player, make more friends on the Tour, but also assess exactly what he needed to do to be at these guys. It was a win-win-win in all three of those areas for him.
GWK: I know he’s your best friend, but what does he do or what clothes does he have that still annoy you?
NB: That guy? I don’t know. We’ve always got on really well. There’s only one time when he really didn’t pay attention to me. We were playing in the (2001) Presidents Cup, and I asked him for a lay-up number, and it was a par 5 I couldn’t reach. It was alternate-shot, and I asked him for a number that he wanted, and he wouldn’t tell me.
So what I did was I laid him up to his most uncomfortable number because I knew what his most uncomfortable number was, so I laid him up to a bad number on purpose because he was making me mad. He went on to skull it over the green into a back bunker. I had to hit a bunker shot on a par 5 to get up-and-down to tie the hole, and we both walked off the green kind of chuckling at each other because he knew that he actually should have given me a number for me to lay up to instead of me having to figure it out on my own. But we’re like brothers. We always have been. Earl was great to me. My parents couldn’t travel to junior events, so Earl looked after me like his own son, and Tiger is my brother. We’ve just been family for, gosh, almost 40 years now.