By Steve Helling And Stephen M. Silverman
Updated April 19, 2004 06:18 PM
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Golfing may come easy to Tiger Woods, but how about Marine training?

For a quick, four-day taste of what his father, Earl Woods, encountered 41 years ago while becoming a Green Beret, the golf champ, 28, flew into Pope Air Force base early last week to begin a slightly watered-down boot-camp experience at Fort Bragg, reports PEOPLE.

Speaking at a press conference after the whole experience, Woods said he participated so he could “meet a lot of the soldiers and basically see what the army does. It’s amazing to me, not only how important their duties are, but how dedicated everyone is.”

Tiger’s training started with his being issued clothing and equipment, including a size-large camouflage battle dress uniform (with “Woods” on the right chest pocket), size-12 combat boots and full body armor. His living quarters: Sink House, a residence used to house visiting dignitaries, complete with private bath. (His father, who had arranged for his son’s visit, stayed in another private room.)

Perhaps the special comforts tainted his image of military life, but Woods also said, “If I weren’t a golfer, I would have trained for Special Ops. This week just reinforced that.”

Even with no drill sergeant assigned to bark at him, Tiger awoke every day by alarm clock — and was always prompt for 6:30 a.m. fitness instruction.

Tuesday brought weapons training, where he learned to shoot an M9 Baretta pistol. He then fired M4 and M5 assault rifles at paper targets before moving up to the M24 rifle, which is the standard sniper weapon known for its accuracy at long ranges. He hit several bull’s-eyes.

“That was a lot of fun,” he said of his gunplay. “I’ve fired weapons before, but certainly none of these are available really. That’s what made this an absolute blast for me.”

On Thursday Woods was part of the 18th Airborne Corps’ 4-mile run, finishing in 31 minutes, 18 seconds, nearly four minutes better than the standard time.

“As far as the running is concerned,” said Tiger, “I do that all the time just for my own sake. That wasn’t anything new. The only difference to me was yelling at the top of my lungs and singing along with the guys.”

He also completed two tandem jumps from 13,500 feet with the Golden Knights (“I wasn’t scared at all,” he said), but by Friday, Tiger was back on familiar ground, conducting a golf clinic at Stryker golf course on Ft. Bragg property.

Summing up his experience, Woods said, “These people here are putting their lives on the line, and that to me is the ultimate dedication.”