‘Did you tell so and so to F off?’ Analyst dishes on opinions and Tiger Woods

Hunter Mahan, John Wood, Tiger Woods

From left, Hunter Mahan, Mahan's caddie, John Wood, and Tiger Woods at the 2014 Open Championship.

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There is the Tiger Woods’ way. And there is the wrong way, John Wood says.  

The subject is big-event preparation, and Wood, as a former longtime caddie and current NBC on-course reporter, is an expert here. He’s seen countless majors and team tournaments, and, specifically to the conversation, the intake of information, and on a recent episode of The Book of Joe podcast, he was asked about potential overload. 

Co-hosts Joe Maddon, a former longtime MLB manager, and Tom Verducci, a writer, lean baseball, and they had seen it in their arena. 

“Well, Joe, you also talk in the book about how when the stakes got higher, basically in the postseason, the more people wanted to get involved with numbers and getting even more detailed,” Verducci began on the podcast, which is an extension of the book of the same name. “I’m wondering, John, if you’ve found that at, whether it’s Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup or especially the majors, were the atmospheres a little bit different? And my experience is, great players tend to treat those moments exactly the same; nothing changes. The tendency, human nature is to make it bigger. We don’t need more information. So give me an idea what it’s like, be it a major or some of the high-profile events.”

“That’s so true,” Wood said. “I’ve watched more players over-work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday at a major, and they get to Thursday and they’re just exhausted. They got nothing left in the tank because they’ve changed their routine. If your routine is what you think is best for you during, you know, Riviera and L.A., why is it different when you get to Augusta? You completely change that routine. If you think the correct thing to do is what you’re doing at Augusta, then you should be doing that every week. 

“But when you change everything, you’re telling your body and your mind that this is bigger, this is something else than what you normally do. So I think it’s huge as a caddie to keep him in the same routine.”

And then, Wood said, there is the Woods’ way, and that, of course, helped him 15 majors.  

“The best guy at that was Tiger,” Wood said on the podcast. “Tiger, he prepared the exact same way every single week. A 7-iron he was hitting at home in T-shirts and shorts, he gave the same amount of attention to as the 7-iron he needs to hit at Augusta to win the golf tournament. So when he gets to that shot at Augusta, he’s not nervous; it’s the same feeling. Obviously it’s bigger and he’s more amped up, but it’s the same feeling.”

Wood wasn’t done, though. He had a story about it all. 

It was the 2007 Presidents Cup, and Wood was caddying for Hunter Mahan, who was making his team-event debut. And Mahan, Wood said, had brought along other members of his team. 

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“And Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, it was like they wouldn’t let him get like 5 feet away from him,” Wood said on the podcast. “They were right on top of him the entire time. And I let it go for a couple days. He didn’t play well in his first match on Thursday, and I sat down with those two guys and I go, you guys are amazing, you do a great job, but let’s — why don’t you stand 30 feet back and when we need you, if we need you, we’ll call you in. Absolutely, we’ll call you in, you know, during the practice. 

“But to be there every second, it’s too much.”

Wood wasn’t the only one to notice, though. 

“The funniest thing about that was, Tiger notices everything,” Wood said on the podcast. “You think he’s very insular and in his own world, but that day, when Hunter started to warm up on Friday, Tiger was hitting balls eight or nine stalls down, and I hear, Woody, come here. So he calls me over and I go over and I go, what’s up? 

“And he goes, did you tell so and so to F off. And I said, yeah, we need a little break. And he goes, good call. So Tiger, he notices everything. It’s incredible.”

Editor’s note: To listen to the podcast, please click here.   

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.