Tiger to Walk in His Fathers Footsteps
The day after the Masters, the world's No. 1 golfer will swap his spikes for Army boots.
Instead of retreating to his lavish home in Isleworth, Woods will stay in the barracks at Army Special Forces headquarters and spend a week in military training.
'If I was never introduced to golf, I would be doing something like that,' Woods said. 'Hopefully, something in the Special Ops arena. It's the physical and mental challenge of it all. We'll see what happens.'
No one is more curious than his father, an ex-Green Beret who trained at Fort Bragg, N.C., during the Vietnam War, and then taught his son to take no prisoners on the golf course.
'He's a very independent individual, and he plays an individual sport,' Earl Woods told The Associated Press. 'Quite frankly, he's not in the business of people telling him what to do. This will be a broadening experience for him.'
This is clearly a case where father knows best.
Earl Woods first trained at Fort Bragg in 1963 following a tour in Vietnam, and he was assigned to a Special Forces unit at Fort Bragg before leaving for another tour in 1970.
He did not remember the years he was there, only the schedule he had to keep.
He was up every morning at 5:30 for inspection, where a single thread out of place on the uniform meant push-ups. That was followed by physical training, including a run in boots he had spent the night spit-shining for inspection. Then it was time to change clothes, work all day until dinner at 7:30 p.m., and start over in the morning.
'He'll learn a lot more respect. He'll learn a little bit about dedication,' Earl Woods said. 'And he'll learn an awful lot about himself, and how he can handle it. He'll come out a lot stronger than he went in.'
Why would the world's best golfer, who earns close to $90 million a year, sign up for this working vacation?
Earl Woods only wonders what took him so long.
'He probably wants, in the recesses of his mind, to walk the steps I walked,' the father said. 'He was always inquisitive about the training I put him through, the mental-toughness training. He wanted to know where that came from. I equated it to experiences I've had in the military, especially in Special Ops.
'Now, he wants to experience it.'
Woods is to arrive at Fort Bragg on April 12, spend four days of training and conclude his week by conducting a junior golf clinic for families at Fort Bragg.
Soldiers will train him in weapons and military tactics before sending him on a mission as part of a Special Forces team, Bragg spokesman Lt. Col. Billy Buckner said. Also in the works is a lesson in skydiving and a tandem jump with the Army's parachute team.
'I don't think they're going to put me through the wringer as what they would do,' Woods said. 'But hopefully, it will be close.'
Besides being the most physically fit among golfers, Woods' mental strength is what separates him from the others.
He has a knack for playing his best under severe pressure, such as winning the Masters in 2001 for an unprecedented fourth consecutive major. His record is 30-2 when he leads going into the final round.
But this mental toughness did not come from any boot camp.
Earl Woods never put his son through sleep deprivation. He did not scream 2 inches from his face. He did not make his son take 5-mile runs before going to kindergarten.
The training came in the form of gamesmanship.
'I tried to break him down mentally,' Earl Woods said. 'I tried to intimidate him verbally.'
Even as Woods was collecting junior golf trophies, his father routinely laughed at his mistakes.
During casual rounds, when Woods was at the top of his swing, his father would toss a half-dozen balls at his feet, jangle coins in his pocket or call out to him, 'Water on the right. OB on the left.'
'He would stop and look at me with the most evil look, but he wasn't permitted to say anything,' Earl Woods said. 'He always had an escape word if it got to be too much, but he never used it.
'One day, I did all my tricks, and Tiger looked at me and smiled. At the end of the round, I made him a promise. I said, 'Tiger, you'll never run into another person as mentally tough as you.'
'He hasn't, and he won't.'
Despite his mental fortitude, and his overwhelming success in golf, Tiger Woods knows where to draw the line.
He's a golfer, not a soldier.
'There's no physical challenge in golf,' he said. 'We walk around for 4 1/2 hours. That's not tough. Their mental toughness is what I would equate to how I used to train in cross country, because it's more physical. These guys run miles upon miles carrying a 40-pound sack and two quarts of water and flannel and rifles. That's tough.'
Earl Woods doesn't travel with his son as much as he used to, although he will be at the Masters and accompany his son to Fort Bragg.
'But I will not be with him during his training exercises,' the father said. 'I've been through them. I don't need to learn anything else. But I'll have plenty to talk to him about when he finishes.'
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain
PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.
She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.
“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.
Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.
“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”
She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.
“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”
Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.
“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.
She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.
“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”
Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.
While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.
“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”
Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead
PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.
In fact, she named her “Mona.”
For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.
While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.
And that has her excited about this year.
Well, that and having a healthy back again.
“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”
Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”
Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.
She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”
Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.
Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders
PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.
Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.
Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.
Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.
Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC
PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.
With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.
After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.
“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”
It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.
Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.
“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”
Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.
Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.
“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”
Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).
Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.
“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”
Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.
“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”
Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.