Tiger Woods and the Green Jacket Mystique
By Tod Leonard
March 27, 2009, 3:37 p.m.
The media's buildup to the Masters has begun, and Tiger Woods was asked Friday after his second round of Bay Hill about the mystique of owning one of the most unique prizes in sports: the Green Jacket. He has four of them, but hasn't won at Augusta National since 2005. Here's his exhange with reporters:
Q. I just wondered if you could tell a good green jacket story. I mean, there was that story about how you fell asleep with it on or holding it, and I'm just trying to get a sense of --
TIGER WOODS: I didn't fall asleep.
Q. Passed out?
TIGER WOODS: Thank you (laughter).
Q. For example, did you know when you won that you were allowed to take the jacket home with you for the year?
TIGER WOODS: Uh-huh.
Q. And what exactly did happen?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I remember the guys who have won, they've always said the jacket shrinks over the years. I don't know if it actually shrinks. Guys just might fill out a little bit more (laughter). So yeah, my jacket is just a touch big.
Q. It still is?
TIGER WOODS: Still is, yeah, still is a little bit big. It always feels good to put it on, even though it is a touch big.
Q. It's a 46L if I remember?
TIGER WOODS: No, it's 44L.
Q. When you go back to the club, the last time you do or whatever, beyond Masters week, do you have it on then?
TIGER WOODS: No, I would never wear it. The only time we wear it is for the champions' dinner. Even if I win the tournament and I have it home in my closet, I never put it on.
Q. Has it been outside your house ever, either in '97, '01, '02, '05?
TIGER WOODS: No, it's just kind of nice to wake up in the morning, put your clothes on and see this green jacket sitting there and then off you go to start your day.
Q. I know it's a simple explanation, but why does it have such a mystique of all the trophies you get in golf?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's just so different. As champions you get the clubhouse trophy with everyone's signature on it, which is pretty cool. But I think it's just the history of it, just that everyone has worn a green jacket, and you go in that locker room -- I think that's it more than anything. It's more symbolic than anything else. But being able to go into that locker room and to hang out when Mr. Nelson was alive and Mr. Sarazen was alive, Mr. Snead, to be able to hang out with those guys and have them tell you story after story after story.
I remember my first champions' dinner, I'm hosting it in '98, and I'm sitting next to Ben Crenshaw and Mr. Nelson. So we start talking about how you hold a club and blah blah blah. At the time I was changing my grip a little bit, and Mr. Nelson says, "This is how I hold it." We have knives out. "This is how I hold it. Back in 1934 I changed it to this," and I'm thinking, '34, that's a long time ago. And Ben says, "No, you've got to hold it like a dove" and the whole deal and the feel and the flow. He's got a knife in his hand. That was pretty neat.
To me that's more special than anything else, to be able to go into the champions' locker room and the champions' dinner, to hear the stories of a bygone era.