Reuters - Mon, 12 Jul 21:20:00 2010
If only Tiger Woods could bond with fans as well as he did with his caddie on the Old Course practice range he might find the road to redemption all the more simple.
Instead the beaming face that accompanied shot after crisp shot evaporated when his time was up on his Open warm-up session and he had to face the gauntlet of fans desperate for the world number one's autograph.
Woods, a three-times Open champion still looking for his first win since ending his self-imposed exile in April after tawdry revelations about his private life, is the favourite to win here this week, but left his eager fans disappointed when he was whisked away by a car with tinted windows.
The fans' faith in golfers was quickly restored just a few minutes later however when Alvaro Quiros, a picture of joy after Spain's World Cup triumph on Sunday, unfurled his country's flag and performed impromptu tricks with a football and his club.
"Give the ball to the World Cup champion," the jubilant world number 40 said when he caught sight of the controversial World Cup ball 'jabulani' in the practice area before skilfully manoeuvring the ball from club to feet.
Woods was in equally good touch without any spectators breathing down his neck, cheerfully hitting the ball seemingly exactly where he wanted in the presence of caddie Steve Williams.
The American started his practice round at 07:10 but as galleries awaited his arrival by the 18th green the 14-times Major winner slunk off the course after holing out at the 17th before heading for the sanctity of the practice range.
Woods could have done with a dose of Tom Watson's mood on the first tee.
The eight-times major champion, who aged 59 at last year's Open came within a whisker of becoming the oldest major winner, gave as good as he got on the first tee.
"That's a Yank for you," said the five-times Claret Jug winner when his drive at the opening hole was greeted with the familiar cry of "Get in the hole!".