Tiger Woods’ British Open ‘first’ boast elicits major eye-rolling on PTI

Stuart Franklin

Tiger Woods has no bigger fan than Michael Wilbon, but even the ‘Pardon the Interruption’ co-host can’t believe Woods will come in first at the British Open.

Tiger Woods’ declaration that he expected to finish "first" in this week’s British Open caused some major eye-rolling on the set of ESPN’s "Pardon the Interruption" Wednesday night.

PTI hosts Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser were beside themselves with glee that Woods had returned to competition after a four-month, injury-related hiatus. But place them in the Hank Haney/ Curtis Strange camp of golf watchers who believe Tiger has no chance to walk off with his fourth claret jug come Sunday.

"Tiger Woods says, and I’m quoting here, ‘I’m pretty darn close’ where he wants to be hitting a golf ball," Kornheiser said. "And when asked what would be an acceptable finish at Royal Liverpool, Tiger quickly and emphatically said, ‘First.’"

He then asked his sidekick if Tiger’s statement was, "something that makes you take notice, or roll your eyes?"

The noted Woods enthusiast unenthusiastically chose the second option.

"At this point, roll my eyes," Wilbon said. He also said he was so anxious to see Tiger back on the course that he would wake up to watch his early first round even if it started in the wee hours of the a.m. on the West Coast.

"I’m thrilled that Tiger’s out there, but I’m not ready to see Tiger walking in off the street and winning a British Open with nothing under his belt but an MC, missed cut, at his own tournament in Washington," Wilbon said, referencing the last month's Quicken Loans National, the first and only event Woods has played since undergoing back surgery in late March.

Kornheiser concurred.

"I’m in the roll-your-eye camp as well on this one," he said, observing that while Woods was "dominating" in his 2006 Open Championship win on the Royal Liverpool links, that victory -- Tiger’s 11th of his 14 major titles -- was eight years ago.

"A lot of stuff has happened in the eight years," Kornheiser said. "Most of it hasn’t been very good.

"Since March, he has played two -- count them, two -- competitive rounds of golf, where he went 74-75 at a course where he has won before, like Royal Liverpool, at Congressional," Kornheiser pointed out. "I would love to see this, but it would be very hard for me to believe that he can be competitive in this tournament."

Wilbon, who with his PTI partner, hosted the Halloween 2013 show dressed as Tiger and girlfriend Lindsey Vonn, pledged to channel his inner cheerleader should Woods make his way into final-round contention.

"If Tiger’s even on the leaderboard on Sunday, I will just sit in my house and wear red and the TW hat and a pair of TW shoes. That’s how excited I am for just Tiger being back in competition. But people need to stop," Wilbon said. "Tiger Woods ... has this supreme belief in himself; Tiger should say it, Tiger should believe it. Does it mean we have to believe it?

"I have to see more," he said.

Woods was slated to tee off at 4:04 a.m. ET and Wilbon and Kornheiser won’t have to miss a shot off the bat of the former No. 1 since their network will broadcast the action live, starting at 4. In addition, ESPN3 will livestream the entirety of Tiger's rounds.

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