The Time I saw Tiger Woods at the Masters
When my Dad and I visited Augusta National Golf Club for the Monday practice round, we decided the golf course would be the star that day, not the players.
We drove 4 hours and spent a few hundred bucks to see the beautiful course we had seen countless times on TV and if by chance we saw some of our favorite players, that would be an awesome bonus. But we were really there to walk the grounds.
Augusta National exceeded our expectations. Way exceeded! It was just so incredibly manicured, not a blade of grass was out of place and there wasn't a weed to be found anywhere. We entered the gates when the course opened at 8:00am and walked for hours and hours, only stopping to try the pimento cheese sandwiches.
By 3:00pm we were both exhausted so we decided to make our way back up to the top of the course where the practice tee was to sit in the bleachers and watch some practice sessions. And get some much needed rest.
I stopped at an information booth to ask which way would be quickest to get to the practice tee and the gentleman said...'It's over that way, but it's gonna be packed because Tiger Woods is on his way.'
Well then...hello awesome bonus.
We quickly made our way up to the practice tee and there he was, Tiger Woods, he was at the end of the range bombing drivers into the distance, laughing and joking beside Fred Couples. Tiger was wearing a rose colored shirt and white Nike hat.
I'm not gonna lie, I felt like a kid again. I felt exactly the same way I did 10 years ago when my Dad and I saw Tiger in person for the first time at the US Open in San Diego. The crowds started to gather, and we all just watched Tiger work through all the clubs in his bag.
We weren't very close to him because the players were all at the front portion of the practice tee to save the grass for the tournament days later in the week. But it was still pretty cool to see him even from this distance.
I could tell by the way Tiger was practicing that he wasn't there to work on his swing or fix any fundamentals, he was warming up his body to go play a practice round. So my Dad told me to go follow him while he waited for me at the practice tee, he was just too exhausted to walk any more.
The only problem with trying to follow Tiger to get a couple good pictures is the crowds are 3 and 4 deep, AND I didn't know if Tiger would be going out on the front or back nine.
Ten years ago I learned the best thing to do is get a hole or two in front of Tiger and wait at one of the tee boxes to get super close, that's how I got this picture of him...
And the only way to get a hole or two in front of him would be to guess which nine he was going to play. I definitely needed the golf gods on my side.
I instinctively walked halfway down the first fairway and put the zoom lens on my camera and watched the first tee box, waiting for any sign he would hopefully be playing the front nine. If he decided to go play the back nine any chances of me getting a good picture would disappear.
And then seconds later he appeared, the rose colored shirt and white Nike hat showed up in my camera lens and I gave a silent fist pump. I guessed right!
So I immediately turned and walked super fast to the second tee box where I would stand and wait for him to show up in 15 minutes or so. A couple other guys had the same idea, we were all speed walking up the first fairway talking about how awesome this all is.
There are only two times in my life when I've high-five'd complete strangers....way back in the 80's when the Rolling Stones were in concert in Vancouver and I high-five'd a stranger on the way into the concert, and on this day when me and another guy realized how close we'd be to the greatest golfer of all time in just a few minutes.
I stood at the tee box waiting with eager anticipation. Gosh, I'm nearly 50 yrs old and I was so freaken excited! I had my camera at the ready.
And then Tiger finished on the number one green and made his way to where we were all waiting. Word had spread quickly Tiger was on the course so the crowds were already 3 and 4 deep but I was right at the front so I could watch him tee off and get some action shots.
After Tiger hit his tee shot, I quickly switched lenses so I could get a video of him walking right in front of me. I fumbled around in my camera bag and somehow managed to get the lens attached just in time...
After Tiger walked by and I finished with my salty language, the guy from Alabama standing beside me said....'Heck yeah, I've seen Tiger....now I'm taking my happy ass home!'
Me too, Alabama dude...me too.