OK, let me get the ending of this non-story out of the way first, so that I won't disappoint you with an utterly boring finish that goes nowhere.
I drove behind Tiger Woods and his Buick Enclave courtesy car last weekend after leaving the AT&T National at Congressional. I followed him for four or five miles on the Beltway, then I peeled off to my exit, and that was that.
There. That's about it. That's the story. I'm not making that up. How could I? Why would I?
That being said, it was one of the coolest, freakiest, Twilight Zone-iest things I've ever had happen to me with a sports figure. And, I'll try to explain why.
First of all, everybody has had that "random celebrity sighting" they can recount and perhaps brag about. I've seen my share of "Holy crap, that's (insert name here)! I can't believe it!"
But, this was more than that. Well, maybe not more, just different.
I was telling this story to friend, and I was stuck trying to explain why Tiger Woods would be driving his own mundane courtesy car from the golf course to the airport. I mean, it was weird because I expected black helicopters lifting off from the driving range, stretch limos and a security detail of large black sedans.
"You know, I just didn't think he was... well, you know...." I stumbled.
"Human" interjected the friend.
"Right! That's it exactly," I gushed. "Human...."
The word hung in the air, long enough for us both to consider both the absurdity and perfection of its use in this particular case.
He's Tiger Woods after all, the world's most popular athlete, insanely rich beyond comprehension and arguably bigger than Jordan, even when MJ was still "big." His face is instantly recognizable, even without the hat or "I just shot 63"smile.
But no, there was one Eldrick T. Woods, winner of 12 Grand Slam titles at the age of 30, just moseying that Enclave into merging traffic at the River Road exit on 495.
What's next? Is somebody going to tell me he also craps with his pants around the ankles just like the rest of us?
To quote Judge Smails from "Caddyshack": "Harrumph! I don't believe it."
I first caught sight of Tiger behind the wheel as he was trying to execute a three-point turn in a crowded parking lot in front of the clubhouse. He had his window rolled down, was wearing the same red golf shirt he played in (without hat) and had that giant silver Tag Heuer watch he endorses sitting on that wrist.
Wow. Holy shnikies! That's Tiger!
So like a dumb fan - and not the jaded, crusty media badge-wearing slug that I appeared to be at that very moment - I called out to the Great One.
"Hey Tiger! Great tournament! Thanks for putting it on!"
He didn't even move his head.
I bet Tiger has perfected the "non-head twitch and ignore amid thousands of fans" move through the years. I can't be the first one he's done it to. Plus, what did I expect? Tiger to motion me over to the window, and say: "Hey, thanks. Any thoughts on how to make it better next year?"
So, feeling a tiny bit humbled, I pulled out of my space nearby and suddenly saw that Tiger's Buick was right in front of mine waiting to pull out the front gates.
I immediately started to ask all kinds of questions to myself.
I wonder how fast Tiger drives.
How come he doesn't have a driver like Tony Soprano?
What if he gets lost on the way to the airport?
Is Tiger listening to tunes right now?
Does he listen to sports talk radio ever? Has he ever heard my show?
What would happen if I accidentally rear-ended him? Would Stevie Williams pop out of the back like "The Trunk Monkey" and bury a sand wedge square in the middle of my windshield?
As we merged onto 495, I had an urge to pull a move I pull all the time on that exact stretch of road. It's a power merge, using the last 50 feet of the lane that ends (plus part of the paved shoulder) to slingshot past otherwise pokey right-side-of-the-road drivers.
Tiger wasn't speeding; just cruising at the limit. I thought about it. How cool would that be? Tiger might be a God in golf spikes, but dammit, you are in MY HOUSE now, Eldrick!
This is how we merge that sh** on the Capital Beltway! Yeeeeeahhhaaaaawww!
Then, my thoughts returned to Stevie the Trunk Monkey. Nah. Stay cool.
As my limited time with the world's No. 1 athlete on a normally congested stretch of major suburban roadway was coming to an end, I decided to gently pass him on the left for one last look.
I would have been an idiot fan, and tried to open the window to snap a camera phone picture, if not for the one word which also came into my mind at that point: "sniper."
I mean, it's not that far-fetched. I would have looked vaguely like a guy pulling a gun, and that's the last thing Tiger needed after a hot, stressful Sunday round.
So, as I pulled off at my exit, I watched Tiger Woods' courtesy Buick melt innocuously into late Sunday evening traffic heading toward the Dulles Toll Road. Nobody was honking. Nobody was waving. Nobody was giving chase.
It was weird. You're just gonna have to trust me on that one.
Steve is a native Washingtonian and has worked in sports talk radio for the last 11 years. He worked at WTEM in 1993 anchoring Team Tickers before he took a full time job with national radio network One-on-One Sports.
A graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Steve has worked for WFNZ in Charlotte where his afternoon show was named "Best Radio Show." Steve continues to serve as a sports personality for WLZR in Milwaukee and does fill-in hosting for Fox Sports Radio.