Originally created 01/01/00

Security tight wherever world's best golfer plays



SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When Tiger Woods plays in the British Open, his security guards are members of the British Army.

As Woods' fame grows worldwide, so does the challenge to ensure his safety.

During this week's Williams World Challenge, Woods has not only had thousands of fans cheering him on, but also a small gallery of security personnel trailing him on every hole.

Woods said this week he's learned to deal with the attention and intrusions his fame brings.

"Unfortunately that's just part of it and you have to understand that," he said. "There are consequences. I could do anything that anyone else can do, but there are consequences and you have to understand those consequences when you go through that."

Two Scottsdale police officers, along with security officers hired by the tournament, have been shadowing the 24-year-old superstar around the ritzy Grayhawk Golf Club course.

John Lewis, the tournament coordinator who's in charge of security, said Friday there had been no problems through the event's first three days.

"We haven't had anything out of the ordinary," Lewis said. "Vivacious fans and autograph seekers, the things that are normally common for this type of high-profile tournament."

That wasn't the case last year at the Phoenix Open, played at the TPC of Scottdale course.

A fan carrying a concealed weapon was wrestled to the ground and arrested during the final round. The incident occurred at a hole that Woods' group was playing and Tiger indicated this week he hadn't decided yet whether he will play in next month's Phoenix Open. He said the incident last January was a factor in his indecision.

Witnesses at the time told police the man had been shouting at Woods, but Lewis said the man was creating a general nuisance and to his knowledge had not directed any of his remarks at Woods.

"He was following all the golfers, and as is the case many times, he had too much to drink," Lewis said. "He was making loud noises at a hole where Tiger happened to come through."

Bev Norwood is with IMG, the company that represents Woods. Norwood said Friday the world's best golfer has no personal bodyguards, but noted that wherever Woods is playing, the security is high caliber.

"It might seem a little harsh, but when he plays in the British Open, his security is provided by the British Army," Norwood said. "They're members of the Army golf club."

And at most other tournaments, Norwood said, "Tiger's security people tend to be more highly trained than the typical marshal."

Norwood said Woods has encountered no threats of bodily harm in three years on the tour.

"His biggest problem is simply getting from point A to point B because of the amount of people that follow him," Norwood said.

The PGA Tour has a policy of searching handbags and other such items carried into tournaments by fans. But Lewis said the system isn't foolproof.

"We can't install metal detectors like an airport, and it's not difficult to smuggle something through a gate if you've got 125,000 people," Lewis said. "If they're intent on getting something in, they'll get it in."