Woods Makes His Arrival At The 100th PGA Championship
ST. LOUIS – The last time Tiger Woods was at Bellerive Country Club, the world and his life changed forever.
Playing an early Tuesday practice round on Sept. 11, 2001, with Mark Calcavecchia for the World Golf Championships-American Express Championship, Woods and other players were called off the course after a terrorist-occupied commercial jet crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York. In the locker room, he and others watched in stunned silence as a second plane plowed into the South Tower.
“It was a very surreal time,” Woods said Tuesday.
He played a practice round the next day with Mike Weir, but golf was secondary. PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem canceled the event.
“Tim made the right move,” said Woods, who had already won five tournaments that year, including the Masters, giving him all four majors at once.
With most airports closed, Woods decided to drive his courtesy car 1,100 miles through the night to his home in Florida. He stopped four times for gas.
The 17-hour, solo trip provided time for deep reflection. When he arrived the next day at 6 a.m., Woods had come to a major decision.
Wanting to do more than conduct clinics across the country to promote golf and raise money for underserved youth, he decided to change the focus of a planned after-school Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.
“It has to be along the lines of how I grew up,” said Woods. “It was family, then academics, then golf, or whatever sport I was playing.”
Soon after, his dad secured a 50-year lease in Anaheim for $1 a year, and the facility became a reality. Opened in 2006 and now called the TGR Learning Lab, it features 53 curriculums that are based in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
Since then, the TGR Foundation has opened six satellite facilities around the country and has impacted more than 165,000 kids. Nearly 200 have earned college scholarships.
Tiger is a finalist in the #MetLifeMatchUp where his shot was selected as one of the best recovery shots of the year. If Tiger wins, a donation of $750k will be donated to his charity, TGR Foundation. We ask that you help deserving scholars achieve a brighter future by voting for his shot. The contest runs from August 5th – 15th and you are able to vote up to 20 times per day. We thank you for your support!
Woods and many players will have 9/11 in the back of their minds this week during the 100th PGA Championship at Bellerive.
“Golf is what I do,” Woods said. “It’s definitely not who I am.”
In 2008, the club hosted the BMW Championship in the FedExCup playoffs, but Woods didn’t compete. Two months earlier, he captured the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines and underwent knee surgery shortly afterward.
On Tuesday, he played only five holes with Jim Furyk, Bryson DeChambeau and Kevin Na due to rain and thunderstorms.
“So I’ll have to do some more homework tomorrow and a get a good feel for what’s going on the rest of the week,” said Woods.
After tying for 31st on Sunday at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, he took Monday off.
“There’s going to be certain days that I’m not going to have the speed and the flexibility and the movement that I once did,” Woods said. “I’m 42 now, and I’ve had four back surgeries. So things are going to be different from day-to-day, and it’s just about managing it.”
He didn’t exactly sit around. Woods took an ice bath to reduce inflammation, stretched and did leg lifts. He’s always paced himself during tournament weeks to stay fresh for Thursday, but has reduced running and lifting.
Asked whether the toughest part of his comeback has been mental or physical, Woods said, “Definitely more physical. I know how to play the game of golf. It’s just what are my limitations going to be. And as the year has progressed, I’ve learned some of those things.”
Admittedly, Woods has made adjustments.
“Certainly can’t do what I did 10, 15 years ago, but I’m still able to hit the majority of my shots, and I’ve had to learn a golf swing that is restricted,” he said. “I’ve never had a spinal restriction before, and I played all those years without it. Now, I’ve had a bum knee most of those years, but I could wheel it around that. But having a fixed point in my spine is very different.
A four-time PGA champion, Woods has six top-12 finishes in 13 PGA Tour starts this year. He owns 79 Tour victories and 14 major titles.
Also ahead are the FedExCup playoffs and the Ryder Cup. He has already been named a vice-captain in the latter by Furyk, but hopes to play as well.
Asked if he deserves to be picked if he doesn’t earn one of eight automatic berths after the PGA, Woods said, “I don’t know, we’ll see. I’ve gone from zero to basically 20th in seven months. As I said last week, I’m trending.”
Woods will play the first two rounds this week with defending champion Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy. They begin Thursday at 9:23 a.m. ET on the 10th tee, then start Friday on the first tee in the fifth-to-last group at 2:48 p.m. ET.