Sunday, May 19, 2013 | 11:54 a.m.
Amid online buzz of buying engagement rings, golf great Tiger Woods was all smiles as he walked hand-in-hand with Olympic skiing champion girlfriend Lindsey Vonn on their Las Vegas honeymoon-styled weekend visit.
Their eyes sparkled with the first blush of true love. I was feet away from them backstage at Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday night before his 15th annual Tiger Jam concert with headliner Kid Rock and opener Uncle Kracker.
Try as I could, there were no photos of the duo arm-in-arm and cheek-to-cheek. I asked Tiger politely. He ignored me — looked straight through me like I was a ghost. Not one word from him. I asked his PR people, and they did try but were rebuffed.
Tiger made certain Lindsey was whisked into a stage-side dressing room in a phalanx of security bodyguards and kept away from the small contingent of photographers, including our contributing photographer Tom Donoghue. Lindsey was a guest at last year’s Tiger Jam before they began dating.
My bet is that Tiger is skittish being here because it was the scene of many of his party-girl nights before his marital mess and eventual costly divorce. I think he just doesn’t want any memories of that seamy and sordid time in his life.
On his first night back this time for his $10,000 buy-in poker tournament in conjunction with the World Poker Tour, Tiger and Lindsey got together for a friend’s Instagram shot. They weren’t together once on camera officially, although WPT photographer Joe Giron snapped Tiger at play with Lindsey just behind watching him.
Fifty people including Tiger, “Shark Tank’s” Mark Cuban, L.A. Clippers star Chris Paul, Kid Rock, actor Mekhi Phifer and poker legends Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu and Mike Sexton took part. The tables were set up at Moorea Beach Club at Mandalay Bay.
Tiger was first to bust out losing to amateur Melinda Fey. Despite being ousted, Tiger stayed for the duration of the tournament. Amateur Scott Dillon won the event. It was filmed for WPT shows to air later on Fox Sports Network, but again no images of Tiger and Lindsey together.
The golf star did his on-camera interview about his Tiger Woods Foundation charity solo. When the table action was complete, Lifehouse played a mini-concert overlooking Mandalay Bay pool.
Tiger hosted Saturday night’s gala dinner and live and silent auction for well-heeled donors — again no photography of the duo at the event. Tiger’s foundation has raised more than $14 million since its 1998 creation to provide college access for needy students. Proceeds from the poker tournament, the auction and dinner and the concert go to the foundation. We should know the total amount raised later today.
With its charitable component completed, WPT has now moved to Bellagio, with Saturday night’s Doyle Brunson Five Diamond Classic broadcasting today on FSN. The WPT High Roller world championship $100,000 buy-in starts Tuesday, and the WPT Final Table is set for Friday — all to air on FSN.
Tiger was in great spirits over the weekend despite his poker loss. It’s obvious to all that he’s happy and in love again with Lindsey, but why he keeps her hidden from photographers to capture a happy photo of the duo remains a mystery.
If it’s OK to smile with Kid Rock — and in past years Jon Bon Jovi, John Mayer and Keith Urban — I just can’t fathom why not Lindsey. Hopefully, though, with or without the engagement rumors , it will happen in due course.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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