NEW YORK — Tiger Woods came to Manhattan on Monday to prove he's got game, both on the green and on his PlayStation.
The pro golfer rolled into the parking lot of one of the city's most famous restaurants, Tavern on the Green, to promote "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06," the latest installment of his EA sports franchise.
The spot's location in Central Park was no accident. Woods' latest game includes a dozen authentic courses and one very much imaginary course set across the park. With holes set some 10 city blocks apart, it might not have been a course anyone would want to walk in real life, but Woods came the closest anyone will probably come to trying it for real by sinking a few putts on a makeshift green set up in the Tavern's parking lot.
"We've got a golf course right here in Central Park, which is really cool," Woods said, listing some of the changes in the new title. With his recently dyed blond hair giving way in large spots to his natural black, Woods looked more leopard than tiger as he listed the improvements to this year's game. "You've got to use both analog [sticks] in order to play now, making it a little bit harder. We've got some pretty new wrinkles with some fashion wear with some of the old guys."
After changing his swing in real life during the past couple of years, Woods made steps to make the same fix for this year's game. "I didn't want to have my old swing in there anymore," he said. "I figured in order for the game to be more realistic, you have to update it. And since my swing has been updated, I felt it was right for the gamers to have something that's more realistic and more current."
Tiger spent a day in Orlando, Florida, squeezing into a motion-capture suit so developers could capture his movement just right. It wasn't his first time, and he said the experience has gotten better. "Let me put it this way," he said. "It's tight, but at least they loosen up in the right place now."
Woods doesn't just star in games. He fully fesses that he's a busy gamer himself. "I travel with my PSP, but I don't really play it as much as I'd like to," he said. "When I'm home I play almost every evening. I like to sit down with my PS2 and kind of chill out and relax and play and get away and just enjoy doing that."
That's not to say that the games Tiger plays are especially chill themselves. "As games have gotten more realistic, I've gotten into shooter games a lot," he said. "I love playing [the PS2 military shooter] 'SOCOM.' That's one of my favorite games. I sit there and play for hours and try to accomplish my missions. Maybe that's because my dad was Special Forces."
Woods also admitted to getting his wife into his gaming routine: "She likes watching me play," he said. "She likes critiquing my play, which is kind of funny. She loves when I play 'Resident Evil' or something like that when it's kind of scary and we've got to go through it together and turn off the lights. It gets kind of freaky, so we enjoy doing that. It's kind of fun."
He may be a player of many genres, but Tiger said he'd like to keep his own in-game exploits to golf. He's just hoping the games he stars in keep getting more realistic — except in one way. "I actually like my body being a bit bigger," he said. "You know, more buffed out. But that's not realistic."
"Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06" is in stores now for all major gaming consoles.
An EA producer also demonstrated the Xbox 360 version of the game, which is set for release at that system's November launch. The game sports many next-generation graphical flourishes, including richly detailed grass that is rendered down to each individual blade, and crowds of hundreds of spectators, all shuffling and moving in a realistic manner.