By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tiger Woods has been largely absent from the golf circuit for nearly two years due to nagging back problems but the 14-times major champion can still draw a crowd.
Some 250 fans and autograph hounds lined up outside a Manhattan book store on Monday, some who had camped overnight, to attend a book signing by Woods for "The 1997 Masters: My Story", about his first major title.
A Barnes and Noble spokesman said they had enough interest to accommodate a thousand people, but had to limit the crowd based on Woods' availability.
Dressed casually in a long sleeve gray striped shirt, the golfer, who has played just three competitive rounds over the past 19 months, received enthusiastic applause as he made his way to the stage and flashed a big smile at his reception.
Attendees were allowed a maximum of two signed books, without personalization, and Woods exchanged pleasantries as he signed on the title page.
"He was really nice. Just a normal guy," said Claudia as she was escorted to the exit escalator by the attentive security detail.
"I was very surprised. Nice signature and pretty pleasant," said a man who made a seven-hour drive from Pittsburgh to attend. "I'm absolutely a Tiger fan. He's going right up next to my Michael Jordan."
Another man said he attended as "a memorabilia thing. I met (Jack) Nicklaus and (Arnold) Palmer and had to get him to have the three."
A middle-aged New Yorker said he offered Woods some advice.
"He was very nice. I suffer back pains and I expressed that he should maybe get acupuncture and he said that he does try it and enjoys it."
A gray-haired fan got a handshake. "Now I can go to heaven," said Kenny.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)