x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Tiger Woods fits the bill for US Navy Seals

Although Tiger Woods displays many traits the elite navy force live by, it is unlikely they would try to recruit the world’s most famous sportsman.

A 2004 file photo of Tiger Woods at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. During a three-day stay at the military base, he fired weapons, awoke early for four-mile runs and jumped from planes using parachutes.
A 2004 file photo of Tiger Woods at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. During a three-day stay at the military base, he fired weapons, awoke early for four-mile runs and jumped from planes using parachutes.

The golfer has seen tough times and fits a Navy man's ethos but claims of former coach trying to sell a book should be taken with a pinch of salt

So, which man is telling the truth about an alleged plan by Tiger Woods to quit golf and become a US Navy Seal: the one with a book to sell, or the one who could earn millions of dollars without getting shot at?

Hank Haney, the golfer's former swing coach, claims that in 2007 Woods undertook a Seal-style training programme of self-defence, urban warfare simulations and shooting. "The purpose was a sort of dry run," Haney writes in a forthcoming book, "to determine ... whether he actually wanted to go forward with becoming a Navy Seal."

That seems like a leap of logic. Woods could have undergone such a programme for any number of reasons: fun, fitness, a fresh challenge. There is also the issue of age. The maximum age limit for joining the Seals is 28, but Woods was 31 in 2007.

"It's not a problem," he allegedly told Haney, "they're making a special age exemption for me."

To which, bafflingly, Haney did not reply: "Really? A top secret combat unit not only plans to recruit the world's most famous man but is also willing to overlook his age, dodgy knee and a well-known tendency to shoot wide?"

At this stage, any sane reader must have doubted the veracity of Haney's tale.

But before we toss it into the bin marked "Nonsense" we must consider Woods's dismissal of the story in a news conference before last week's Honda Classic in Florida. He initially claimed he had already commented on the book, then told the journalist: "You're a beauty, you know that?"

Under further questioning, he merely offered a withering silence.

Stonewalling; misdirection; silence. If that is not the classic behaviour of a special operative under interrogation, my name is Steven Seagal.

Think about it. If Woods is a Navy Seal, of course he will deny it.

Having undergone hours of simulated interrogations in training, do you really think he would break under a light grilling by Alex Miceli? The Golf Channel guys do not even carry waterboarding equipment!

So perhaps Haney's claim does require further investigation.

The official Navy Seal ethos state: "[I am] a common man with an uncommon desire to succeed".

Sounds like Tiger to a T.

"I persevere and thrive on adversity," it adds. Again, Woods fits that bill.

"The ability to control my emotions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men." A few bent five irons aside, that could have been written for Woods.

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"My nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies." Maybe not in the Ryder Cup, but otherwise yes.

"Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honour are steadfast." Hmmm. OK, well you cannot have everything.

Frankly, I do not know whom to believe, but I will be watching Woods closely for clues.

The moment he starts referring to bunkers as "desert terrain", water hazards as "challenging amphibious environments", swaps his trademark red polo shirt for a grenade-laden wetsuit or finds his way out of some tricky rough using plastic explosives when a delicately lofted chip would have done the job, his cover will be blown.

Truth is the first casualty of war, they say.

Maybe, but it seems that perhaps it does not last too long in a Tiger Woods news conference.


Lessons for an Ohio-born NBA star to pass as a Brit

Congratulations to Byron Mullens, the Ohio-born and raised NBA star, on his acquisition of a British passport.

The Charlotte Bobcats centre dug up some British heritage – his mother was born in England – to get a game at the Olympics, albeit with some bunch of snuggle-toothed dudes from the old country.

His celebratory Tweet – “Yessir. I will be in London this summer!” – does, however, raise the awkward issue of cultural assimilation.

Byron, old chap, British people do not celebrate with the exclamation “Yessir!” any more than we say “You’re darned tootin’” while repeatedly firing a pair of Smith and Wesson pistols into the air.

Do that in London this summer and the home crowd may suspect you are not really a prodigal Brit returning to the fold, full of contrition for that Boston Tea Party business, but a self-serving ringer swathed in a flag of convenience.

And since when did that happen at the Olympics?

Other giveaways include placing your hand over your heart during the national anthem.

The only time you need to do that in London is on the Underground, to deter pickpockets. Then there is the basketball terminology. To Brits, a “dunk” is the insertion of a biscuit (cookie) into hot tea, “layup” is how northern people greet each other, an “alley oop” is where the same northerners store their dustbins (garbage cans) and “shooting hoops” is what Glasgow Rangers fans get prosecuted for.

To you, a “finger roll” is a method of scoring; to us it is the mainstay of a good buffet. To you, “the rock” can mean the ball. To Brits, it means Gibraltar.

All very confusing, I know, so my general advice for pretending to be British would simply be: suppress your emotions, talk about the weather and try to avoid displaying any knowledge of, or ability to play, basketball.