Thu, Jun 01, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Woods gradually returns to action on golf course

AP , ROLAND, ARKANSAS

Tiger Woods smiles during a demonstration for children at the Alotian Club in Roland, Arkansas on Tuesday. Woods, who said Tuesday he is preparing to play in the US Open, made his first public appearance since his father, Earl, died on May 3.

PHOTO: AP

Tiger Woods is preparing to play in next month's US Open.

Woods was at the Alotian Club outside of Little Rock on Tuesday, making his first public golf-related appearance since the Masters. His father, Earl, died on May 3, and Woods hasn't played since he tied for third at Augusta National on April 9.

But he played a round at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, New York, on Saturday, an indication he will be back there on June 15-18 for the US Open. Woods was in Arkansas for a clinic coinciding with the inaugural Jackson T. Stephens Charitable Golf Tournament, and he put on a demonstration for a few dozen children from Stephens-supported charities.

When asked by a member of the crowd how he would prepare for the US Open, Woods said he had plenty of practicing to do.

"Obviously, you have to drive the ball great at US Opens. You can't win a US Open driving the ball poorly," Woods said. "Work on my driving and really work on my irons, distance control."

Woods spoke of his father a few times while addressing the crowd, including at the end, when he was asked what advice he had for his young fans.

"I think the greatest advice is to care and share," Woods said. "My dad was so adamant about that line. He said if you care about something, you'll share it. And if you love life, you'll share life. I love kids and I'll share with them whatever I have."

The Arkansas tournament, which was on Monday and Tuesday, is named after Jack Stephens, the late billionaire, philanthropist and former chief executive officer of Stephens Inc. Stephens was chairman of Augusta National in 1997, when Woods won the Masters there for his first major championship.

The children at the clinic were seated on a small incline behind Woods as he hit. At the start, Woods said other spectators seated in chairs further back could move closer if they wanted. Afterward, he posed for pictures with the kids.

"Tiger's not at all what I thought he would be," said Hayley Carter, 15, of Greenwood. "I pictured him as being quiet and off to himself, but he was a lot different."

Woods often answered questions from the audience.

"I know he doesn't feel well, but unless somebody told you, I don't think you'd know it," said Warren Stephens, Jack Stephens' son.

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