Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

'Dorky' Woods reveals why Vonn is a good match

updated 5:31 AM EST, Sat November 9, 2013
Tiger Woods produced some stunning approach play during his second round 63 in Turkey. Tiger Woods produced some stunning approach play during his second round 63 in Turkey.
HIDE CAPTION
Champion play
Bridging the gap
Show stopper
No pressure, Tiger...
A swing into history
Choppy departure
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tiger Woods speaks to CNN's Rachel Nichols about match-up with Lindsey Vonn and kids
  • World No.1 has completed most successful year since 2009 winning five PGA Tour titles
  • Woods frustrated at lack major wins but hopes to emulate Ben Hogan's late career success

(CNN) -- His girlfriend Lindsey Vonn thinks he's "dorky," but what does Tiger Woods think?

"I guess so. My teammates used to call me 'Urkel' back in college," Woods told CNN's Rachel Nichols in an exclusive interview ahead of his appearance at the Turkish Airlines Open this weekend.

Like the bespectacled character from 90s sitcom, "Family Matters," Woods freely admits to having a "nerdy side" but his attraction to Olympic skiing champion Vonn, who also described him as "funny" and "a great guy" in a recent interview, has far more to do with mutual passions.

"I like to have fun. I enjoy life. I'm very competitive. I think that's why we get along so well," Woods said.

The pair, who went public with their relationship in March, also share an understanding of the physical demands of top athletes, although Woods concedes golf isn't exactly littered with glorious physical specimens.

Read more: Vonn puts comeback on ice

"I think we understand the work ethic that it takes. It's two totally different training regimes because she's got to spend so much time on leg development and core development and time on the bike that we don't have to. Looking at some of the guys on tour, they've got huge guts and can't breathe when they go up to tee boxes but they can still win golf tournaments," Woods said.

I like to have fun. I enjoy life. I'm very competitive. I think that's why we get along so well
Tiger Woods

"In her sport, unless you're feeling close to 100% you are not going to win. So it's very different."

Return to fitness and form

Woods famously won the U.S. Open in 2008 (his last major triumph) playing through the pain barrier of a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and a double stress fracture of his tibia, and injuries (knees, Achilles and elbow) have dogged him since. But barring the withdrawal from the AT&T National at Congressional in June, 2013 has been kinder physically, enabling the Tiger of old to re-emerge more regularly.

Read more: Woods dropped by EA Sports

"I knew I could get back, but I had to get healthy first. I couldn't practice unless I got healthy. And in order to play tournaments you gotta practice," he says.

Enlisting the help of swing coach Sean Foley in 2011 has also paid dividends creating more consistency in his game, he says.

"I've won eight times these last two years, so I'm very proud of that."

Major frustration

There is, however, the small matter of Woods' continuing failure to make an impact on the biggest stage -- Woods remains stuck on 14 major titles, four short of Jack Nicklaus' record of 18.

It's a frustration, admits Woods, after being in contention at two majors this year.

I knew I could get back, but I had to get healthy first. I couldn't practise unless I got healthy.
Tiger Woods

For once, his feted accuracy landed him in trouble during the second round of the Masters in April. While tied for the lead, Woods' third shot to Augusta's par-five 15th hit the flagstick before ricocheting back into the water. After taking a drop -- in the wrong place as it later transpired -- Woods ended up with a triple-bogey eight and eventually finished in a tie for fourth.

Woods felt the same sense of lost momentum three months later at Muirfield.

"At the British Open on Saturday at the 17th I just spun one up in the air and it ended up in the bunker. I blasted out made bogey, Lee (Westwood) made birdie so there was a big shift there. I've been there with chances to win at the weekend, I just haven't done it yet," he said.

Time, insists the 37-year-old, is still on his side.

"A lot of golfers peak in their 30s. You start eliminating mistakes as you get older. I might not bomb it as far, but strategic awareness improves. You understand how to attack the golf course and that's why there are so many great players -- (Ben) Hogan for instance, won most of his majors at my age and over.

Quite frankly, since 2008, I've been there with a chance to win about a half of them. I just haven't seemed to have won one
Tiger Woods

"For Jack (Nicklaus) it took him until he was 46 ... You are going to have your years when you play really well -- you may clip two or three -- and then you have years when you just don't win anything -- you are there, you just don't happen to win," he said.

"Quite frankly, since 2008, I've been there with a chance to win about a half of them. I just haven't seemed to have won one."

Rules of the game

Woods may have enjoyed his most successful season since 2009, but not everyone has been pleased with his progress.

Last month, golf journalist Brandel Chamblee awarded Woods a grade "F" for his 2013 labors, noting provocatively that he had been "a little cavalier with the rules" -- a reference to four rules violations this year including the controversial two-shot penalty at Augusta.

Woods' agent Mark Steinberg raged on his behalf calling the slur "shameless" and "baseless," before Chamblee offered an apology of sorts via Twitter.

The constant scrutiny has become par for the course for Woods who says its just the nature of 21st century media landscape.

Sergio Garcia on giving back

"It's a new world for everyone because it's a 24-hour news cycle. Everyone has outlets via blogs, the Internet has changed everything in how our sport is looked upon."

'Watermelon guy'

Woods takes refuge in practice, "hanging out with my boys" at the Medalist Golf Club near his home in Florida and focusing on his children: six-year-old daughter Sam and son Charlie who turned four this year.

"It was pretty neat that he was at Akron (WGC-Bridgestone International in August) when I won this year. It's the first time he's seen me win a golf tournament. It was thrilling for me and he got pretty excited.

"He's been out on a golf course with me (before), but he's never seen people following me playing. So that was a little bit different -- he was a little bit nervous about that because obviously it's a different type of crowd. It was a little bit shocking to him and he also loved it at the same time."

Much like his late father Earl, Woods is taking pride in watching his kids as they take their first, less public strides onto the sports field.

"I don't yell at them when they play T-ball or soccer. I just watch, support and let the coaches coach.

"Lately, I've been the watermelon guy -- so if they need a little bit of sugar, get a little tired they will come over and say: 'do you have any watermelon?' Other than that, I just watch and to me that's just a thrill."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:47 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
If golf has a reputation for being a bit stuffy, then the Bryan brothers and their trick shots are a much-needed blast of fresh air.
updated 8:18 AM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
Not many people make the leap from teenage market trader to golf pro and fashion entrepreneur, but that's just what Ian Poulter has done.
updated 6:29 AM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
"Sleep, as far as mental and physical recovery goes, has never been more important ..." says sport sleep coach Nick Littlehales.
updated 5:24 AM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Joe Miller is devouring his second steak of the day and the clock has barely nudged 2pm. You need lots of fuel to smash a drive 474 yards.
updated 10:49 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
There have been many dark days for Oliver Wilson, but golf's unluckiest loser is finally riding an upward swing of his career roller coaster.
updated 12:48 PM EDT, Tue October 7, 2014
They dress like it's the 1930s and they swing antique equipment that eschews cutting-edge technology -- this is hickory golf.
updated 12:09 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
CNN's Living Golf focuses on women's golf, charting the growth of the sport from royal pastime to multi-million dollar machine.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
"I don't know how to paint happy," says golf's poster girl Michelle Wie. "I think it releases a lot of the darker feelings in me."
updated 8:13 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Phil Mickelson of the United States talks during a press conference after the United States were defeated by Europe after the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland.
If you're a U.S. golf fan, or Tom Watson, look away now.
updated 7:18 PM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
A ban on uploading social media pictures from the course at Gleneagles was dropped for the Ryder Cup.
updated 6:52 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
A spot of shopping, the odd spa day and some serious flag waving. Welcome to the life of a Ryder Cup WAG.
updated 9:01 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Tom Watson has learned plenty in the 21 years since he was last U.S. Ryder Cup captain, but social media is proving to be problematic.
updated 8:43 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Patriotism will reach fever pitch when the USA and Europe collide in golf's Ryder Cup ... and it looks like Rickie Fowler has let it go to his head.
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Pressure is inescapable in the cauldron of Ryder Cup competition -- pressure and ping pong.
updated 7:50 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Millions of golf fans were watching on television with great anticipation. All Martin Kaymer could think about was getting his phone out.
ADVERTISEMENT