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In this 2013 photo provided by Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn, golfer Tiger Woods and skier Lindsey Vonn pose for a portrait.

Uncredited, Associated Press - Ap

Lindsey Vonn was just another face in the gallery following Tiger Woods during the third round.

Charlie Riedel • Associated Press,

Vonn walks the Tiger walk at U.S. Open

  • Article by: BILL PENNINGTON
  • New York Times
  • June 16, 2013 - 7:33 AM

– Lindsey Vonn sat on a stone wall 20 yards from the first tee at the Merion Golf Club on Friday afternoon. Her boyfriend, Tiger Woods, had just teed off, striding down the fairway with thousands of fans in his wake.

Vonn went largely unnoticed.

“I can be normal by myself; no one notices me,” she said. “But wherever he’s around, we’re living in a fishbowl. I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into. It’s weird, But it’s just something I have to deal with. He has his job and I have mine. I just have to get used to it.”

One thing is bothering her.

“Some people seem to forget that I’m not just Tiger’s girlfriend,” Vonn said. “I’m actually a successful athlete. I’m Lindsey. I have my own career and my own life.”

It has been three months since Vonn and Woods announced that they were dating. On Friday, Vonn repeatedly said: “I’m very happy. Things are great.”

She conceded that her life had grown more complicated at the side of the world’s top-ranked golfer and frequent tabloid subject.

And she said she was committed to Woods.

“I’m at a golf tournament, aren’t I?” she said with a laugh. “When was I ever at golf tournaments before? I kind of like him, can you tell?”

Vonn is rehabilitating her surgically rebuilt right knee and said Friday that she hoped to be on skis in early September, which would be more than a month ahead of the recovery schedule announced after her tumbling, violent crash in a race four months ago. She is walking without a limp or a brace and said she had no doubt she would defend her Olympic downhill title in February at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, an event she expects Woods to attend.

“He’s had ACL surgery, so right now I talk about my rehab,” she said. “He knows what I’m going through. The guy won a U.S. Open without an ACL.”

Soon, Vonn will be allowed to do more demanding ski-specific exercises. Ultimately, she says, she plans to make only one concession to her injury — she will not ski the slalom this season but will continue to compete in the downhill, super-G and giant slalom, along with preparing for the combined at the Olympics Games.

“I honestly feel like there will be less pressure on me at these Olympics,” Vonn said. “It helps to have already stood up to that pressure once.”

Performing in stressful situations, Vonn said, has been one frequent topic of conversation she has with Woods.

“The Olympics were the most pressure I’ve ever felt,” she said. “Tiger lives that kind of pressure every single day. So I can talk to him about that.”

In the past 18 months, Vonn divorced her husband, Thomas Vonn, won a fourth World Cup overall title, sustained the first major knee injury of her career and started dating perhaps the world’s most famous athlete, whose serial adultery made him prime tabloid fodder for more than a year.

“Yeah, a lot has changed,” Vonn said Friday, “but I’m the same.”

Now, though, she is a regular feature of tabloid stories, too. Noting that one recent report had an angry Woods throwing her out of his house, Vonn put a hand to her face to smother a giggle.

“That was funny; we joked about that,” Vonn said. “Another story said that he wanted kids and I didn’t, so I was moving to Pakistan. Where do they get these things?”

© 2014 Star Tribune