AP Golf Writer
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Tiger Woods was all smiles Tuesday - and with a full set of teeth.
Woods gave a play-by-play account of how his front tooth was knocked out in Italy on Jan. 19 to celebrate girlfriend Lindsey Vonn's record 63rd World Cup victory. He said one tooth was chipped and the other was cracked. Both were replaced before he arrived to start his season at the Phoenix Open.
He said he wore a skeleton-patterned scarf over his face to avoid being recognized, making a crack about how difficult that can be for a man of black heritage at a World Cup ski race in Italy.
"Not a lot of brown dudes at ski races, OK?" he said with a laugh, as cameras clicked at his smile.
Woods said when the race was completed, the podium presentation was moved up on a hill for the photographers. He went to the top of the hill, behind the cameras.
"All the camera guys are below me on their knees or moving all around, trying to get a picture because she's hugging people, saying congratulations to the other racers as they are coming down," he said. "Some already finished, some are there already in the changing area. Dude with a video camera on his shoulder right in front me, kneeling, stood up and turned and caught me square on the mouth."
Woods said he tried to keep his mask on "so the blood is not all over the place." He said the videographer hit the tooth on which he had root canal, chipping it. He said the other tooth had to be fixed, too, because it had cracks through it."
The photo of Woods missing a tooth became as big a sensation as Vonn's record victory. There did not appear to be any swelling on Woods' mouth when a photographer captured the image of his mouth slightly open and the scarf lowered.
Nicola Colli, the secretary general of the race organizing committee, told The Associated Press he was among those who escorted Woods from the tent to a snowmobile for him to leave "and there was no such incident."
"When he arrived he asked for more security and we rounded up police to look after both him and Lindsey," Colli had said.
Whether anyone believed the story from a week ago was not his concern.
"Dude, you guys ... it's just the way the media is," he said. "It is what it is."
Woods is playing his first official PGA Tour event since he missed the cut at the PGA Championship in August. But the biggest topic after he played nine holes under a cloudy sky Tuesday morning was the mystery of his missing tooth.
Except that Woods said there was no mystery at all - except for the attention it received.
"It's a new world," he said. "We need to talk about something. Have to fill up space. The story is about Lindsey breaking the record. That's the story. I mean, geez, every sport you get teeth knocked out, and unfortunately I wasn't actually competing and got my teeth knocked out."
Asked if his tooth was a cap to begin with, Woods said, "These are permanent, yeah."
Woods said the flight home to Florida was the most painful.
"I couldn't eat, couldn't drink until he fixed them, put the temporaries on," Woods said. "I couldn't have anything touch it. Even breathing hurt, because any kind of air over the nerve ... the tooth was still alive, was cracked."
When asked if the photographer realized what he had done, Woods replied, "He didn't care."
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