Enchanted by wonder of Woods

Golf's phenomenon gives a crowd of 5,000 in Hyde Park an insight into his world
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The Independent Online

Hyde Park, the former home of the Great Exhibition, was host to another yesterday as more than 5,000 people turned up to watch a man doing golf tricks.

Hyde Park, the former home of the Great Exhibition, was host to another yesterday as more than 5,000 people turned up to watch a man doing golf tricks.

Tiger Woods was brought to London by one of the myriad sponsors who have been attaching themselves to the young man, now 24, ever since he appeared on the Mike Douglas Show aged two, putting with Bob Hope. He must be one of the least effective customers American Express has ever had. The credit card company pays him a multi-million dollar contract and, worst of all, he probably clears his bill every month.

Yesterday morning was payback time. There was a 177m hole specially constructed in Hyde Park to negotiate. It was carefully sited well away from the Serpentine following Tiger's aquatic adventures at Valderrama on the Costa del Sol last week.

There were giant screens, cherry pickers, impromptu grandstands on three sides, and All Saints music blasting from immense beads of fridge-size speakers hanging from gantries. Heaven knows what the chic and fashionable of the city, those who used to exercise themselves and their horses on the adjacent Rotten Row, would have made of this.

Woods was introduced to Britain's modern royalty of Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent, as well as Natalie Appleton, she of the All Saints. And there was Gary Lineker as host.

Lineker was given three shots at earning £1m for charity with a hole-in-one, but failed miserably. His sporting prowess was founded on much shorter distances than this.

Anyway it was Tiger they had come to see, and he knocked it about impressively, hitting hooks and slices (which were not new to many in the audience) and then obscene distances out towards Kensington Palace (which were).

This particular skill has earned Woods a lot of money, and not a bit of it undeserved according to the great man. "One of the great things about our game is that we earn every bit of it," he said. "Nothing is guaranteed. Off course might be a different story, but on course we earn every bit."

The acquisitiveness will go on. Woods is not embarrassed by the riches he and many in the golfing fraternity have amassed. "It's not just us," he said. "It's anyone. Whether you're in America or Europe or anywhere round the world we're all looking to make our financial status a little bit better. That's just human nature."

As a resident of Florida, Woods is about to have his postal vote "factored in" to White House calculations. It may be that at the end of a season in which he has won three of the four golfing majors, Tiger now even gets to choose who becomes president of the United States.

Given his thoughts on redistribution (Woods is thought to have earned around £30m last season alone while complaining about non-payment for the Ryder Cup, and is currently locked in dispute about his worth to the US Tour), you would imagine that George W Bush might be the chosen one.

Yet Tiger is strangely bashful when it comes to his political affiliation. For whom had he voted? "One of the two nominees," came the careful reply.