“Dear lord that swing is unreal,” I whispered to my father
as I were standing ten feet from the greatest golfer the world has ever seen.
It was the final day of the 2002 World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational at
the Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, WA, and Tiger Woods had just teed off on
one of the narrowest fairways I could imagine. This was a different experience
for a kid who grew up linking golf with the likes of bowling and badminton;
basically a recreation for fat white guys with a lot of time and money.
However, this encounter with Tiger not only changed my respect for the game,
but it will forever be etched in my mind as if it happened yesterday.
My father (Mike) and I were not
what you would call the golfing type, but if there is a big time sporting event
in town, we’re in. In typical Grady fashion, we scrounged up some free tickets
by pretending to be our family friends, the Archie’s, who were active members
in the Rotary Club of Seattle. The club had set up a hot dog booth along one of
the fairways and we were given access to see the legends of the game square off
right inches away.
After about an hour of work at the Rotary Club’s booth, my
dad and I decided that we didn’t create fake personas to serve some rich tweens
some brats, we came for one reason…to see Tiger tee off. I cannot remember the
hole we were standing at, but the crowd anticipation was palpable as Tiger
began walking towards the tee. So naturally, he extends the wait by pulling off
into the honey-bucket stationed between the previous hole and the one we were
at. After about two minutes he popped out and strolled within an arms length of
me. I knew I would get one shot to do it so I shouted, in a nervous/awkward
teen voice (probably puberty squeaking), “Go get ‘em Tiger!” He nodded, walked
past, lined up the shot, and smashed the ball with power and ease right down
the middle of the fairway. That was it.
I had just witnessed the greatest golfer in
history do what he was put on this earth to do. It was a humbling experience
and one that I will never forget, no matter how well known his personal
failings become. I wish him nothing but the best in his family matters and I
wish to thank him for broadening my respect for the sport he is so passionate
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