Woods Opens Learning Center Alongside Clinton
'This is by far the greatest thing that has ever happened to me,' said Woods, a winner of 57 tournaments worldwide and 10 major championships. 'This is bigger than golf. This is bigger than anything I've done on the golf course. Because we will be able to shape lives.'
But even a grand-opening ceremony came off with the kind of flair that has marked his career.
Woods was joined by former President Clinton and Maria Shriver, the wife of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with dozens of the estimated 5,000 children who will pass through the doors of the Tiger Woods Learning Center by the end of the year.
The 35,000-square-foot facility is located next to the H.G. 'Dad' Miller Golf Course, where Woods played when he was in high school. Kids who apply by writing letters come to the center after school for interactive programs in science, math and technology.
'I'm impressed Tiger Woods decided to do this when he was 30 instead of when he was 60,' Clinton said.
Clinton recalled being elected governor of Arkansas when he was 32, the youngest person elected to that position in 40 years. He referred to himself as a 'good governor and a political failure.'
'It's hard to have great gifts and bring them to bear in the public eye under enormous pressure when you're young,' Clinton said, then turning to Woods.
'And it's a tribute to you ... that somehow you've been able to amass a stunning, unprecedented record and keep holding yourself up to start giving back at this point in your life.'
The only sad note to a day of brilliant sunshine was the absence of his father, Earl Woods, who is battling cancer and could not leave his home a short drive away.
Woods nearly broke down when he mentioned the support of his father, just as he did last April when he won the Masters for the fourth time.
'I talked to him last night,' Woods said. 'He kept telling me how proud he was of what I was able to do, and proud of me for thinking of this. It's hard on all of us.'
The Tiger Woods Foundation was created shortly after Woods turned pro, and although his focus immediately turned to children, he did not have a clear vision of what to do. Woods primarily staged junior golf clinics around the country, later assembling selected kids to attend a clinic in Orlando, Fla. He referred to it as a 'circus act,' breezing in and out of town and leaving kids little more than memories.
That changed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Woods, stranded in St. Louis where a World Golf Championship was canceled, drove to Florida and said he spent most of that time reflecting on his life and the foundation.
'I felt we weren't doing enough,' Woods said.
That's when he thought of the idea of a learning center, and it took 3 1/2 years from the first meeting with Orange County officials to reach the grand opening.
Woods donated the first $5 million to the project, along with earnings from his Target World Challenge at the end of the season. He was involved in starting a new PGA Tour event, the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston, which gives its net proceeds to the Tiger Woods Foundation.
And he relied heavily on 25 founding partners, which range from Target to Nike to Augusta National.
Woods has said he would like to be remembered more for his work with children than the number of majors he ultimately wins, and referred to golf as 'merely a vehicle.'
It was reminiscent of comments his father made to Sports Illustrated in 1996, after Woods turned pro and won twice in his first seven events to qualify for the Tour Championship. Earl Woods referred to him as the 'Chosen One' and said he will 'do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity.'
Asked about some of his father's comments, Woods smiled and attributed them to 'proud parents talking.'
'But he's always told me behind closed doors that 'You'll find your way; you'll choose the direction of the foundation,'' Woods said. 'This is a step away from golf. This is certainly more important than hitting a high draw or a high fade. This is getting someone prepared for life. And this (center) is going to do that.'
Clinton and Woods played golf Thursday -- the former president beat him on one hole, but said he finished 25 shots behind over 18 holes.
Clinton took a brief tour of the center before the ceremony, and watched children in their light blue shirts building computer models with Legos and working on forensic science projects.
'It's important for us to understand that there has never been a time in our history when private citizens have had the ability to do public good,' Clinton said.
He encouraged everyone to do their part, and held up Woods as an example.
'If we do our part, we don't have to worry about the future of this country,' Clinton said. 'I think more likely than not, this will be the most peaceful, exciting, interesting era in our history. But we all have to do our part. And today, you've seen in a beautiful, moving, hopeful way that Tiger Woods has done his.'
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake
Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.
While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.
“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.
Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.<
DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi
Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.
“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”
Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).
“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.”
Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.
Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace).
“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”
Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi
What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.
Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.
McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.
He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.
McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65).
Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds.
“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”
Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder
Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.
Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.
Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:
Filling in tomorrow for Corey Pavin that WD today @cbgolfchallenge I do things like this a lot to help events and asking for sponsors exemptions here but didn't get any help.— Ken Duke (@DukePGA) January 18, 2018
Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.
Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.