Statue of Earl and Tiger Unveiled at Learning Center
Behind him was a bronze of Woods wrapping his arm around the shoulder of his late father, Earl Woods, the backbone of a foundation that led to a 35,000-square-foot educational center next to the golf course where they grew up. The center has been open just under two years and already has reached more than 16,000 kids.
Woods and his mother, Kultida, posed with 7-month-old daughter Sam. As photographers moved into position, Sam leaned back in her grandmother's arms and stared up at her father, bringing a wide smile from the world's No. 1 golfer.
'Ever since the day he passed, I have yet to go a day without thinking of my dad,' said Woods, whose father died in May 2006. 'Now that I've had Sam, it's amazing how I keep reflecting on things he taught me. I can't wait to pass that on. That's one reason I worked so hard on my foundation to expand this. He was all about helping others.'
The 8-foot bronze was designed by Elliot and Ivan Schwartz of Studio EIS, and it will remain in the lobby of the learning center.
Earl Woods was dying of cancer and could not be there when former President Clinton joined Woods at the grand opening of the learning center in February 2006. Woods said his father only saw the $25 million center once, a few months earlier during the holidays.
That night at their home in nearby Cypress, he said his father thanked him for allowing him to see the center.
'I told him, 'Thank me? You were the inspiration for it. Without you and your guidance, I would have never gone down this path,'' Woods said. 'I feel, and my mother feels, there's no better way to honor what he's done than to create a statue like this.'
Woods said the statue symbolizes the support that led to so much success -- 61 victories on the PGA TOUR going into the 2008 season, along with 13 majors and the career Grand Slam twice over.
'It brings back my childhood, what he's meant to me in my life, not only from a golf standpoint,' Woods said. 'He was always there. That's basically what it symbolizes. He always had my back. If I failed, I could always come home to love.'
Woods also announced an online contest through the Tiger Woods Foundation for children around the world to share what he called their 'Fist Pump Moment' on video and e-mail.
The entries submitted to www.tigerwoodsfoundation.org will be voted on by web site visitors, with prizes going to the highest-ranked submissions. Prizes will include iPods, Tiger Woods '08 EA Video Games and gift cards.
Woods made the fist pump popular, starting with his three straight U.S. Amateur titles, the final putt at Augusta National in 1997 for a record-setting victory that made him the youngest Masters champion, and countless occasions throughout his career.
Asked about his first 'fist pump moment,' Woods recalled vividly details of a round from 21 years ago, the first time he beat his father.
He was an 11-year-old playing with his father at Navy Golf Course, when Earl Woods was playing off a 1 handicap. Woods said he birdied the 16th hole to get back to even par for the round, tied with his father. Both parred the 17th.
'Eighteen is a par 5, and we both got on in regulation,' Woods said. 'He missed a 20-footer, and I made a 15-footer, uphill, left-to-right. It came out of me. That was my first fist pump. I started upper-cutting the air. It was the greatest thing I ever did in my life, beating my dad. I remember going to the 19th hole to celebrate and to rub it in.'
Woods said he would tie the 'Fist Pump Challenge' into the Earls Woods Scholarship program, offering children around Washington, D.C., and Orange County, Calif., an opportunity to compete for scholarship money through the online contest.
Three children spoke at a news conference to share their moments -- Navdeep Kaur winning a science contest, Cecilia Cardenas getting accepted to a summer program at the University of Wisconsin, Jon Waters reaching a state championship game in basketball.
'There are kids around the country and around the world having these little moments they can celebrate,' Woods said. 'I would like to have them share that with all of us, so they can communicate their experiences with each other. That's what my father would instill in them -- keep pushing forward, keep trying to make a difference.
'I know he's not here to experience this, but he embodies everything about this foundation. That's why we're celebrating this moment, for all he's done to help others and inspire kids to chase and accomplish their goals.'
Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Twice winner Kizzire on missing U.S. Open: 'Fuel to my fire'
CROMWELL, Conn. – Based on recent form, there likely wasn’t a more decorated player watching last week’s U.S. Open from home than Patton Kizzire.
Kizzire is in the midst of a breakthrough season that has already included two wins: a maiden victory at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November, and a marathon playoff triumph over James Hahn at the Sony Open in January. While those titles got him into the Masters and the PGA Championship, they didn’t mean an exemption to Shinnecock Hills.
Kizzire got as high as 51st in the world rankings after his win in Honolulu, but his game started to turn shortly thereafter. A T-12 finish at the WGC-Mexico Championship is his lone top-25 finish in 12 starts since his Sony victory, and he missed four straight cuts from the Masters to The Players Championship.
The U.S. Open grants exemptions to the top 60 in the world at two different cutoff points close to the tournament. But in the midst of a cold streak, Kizzire was 63rd and 65th at each of those deadlines. He attempted to earn a spot at sectional qualifying in Columbus, only to find that his score of 5 under was one shot too many.
“I guess just adding a little fuel to my fire, adding insult to injury,” Kizzire said. “Just to have narrowly missed several different ways of qualification was disappointing. But I just tried to spin it as a positive. I got two weeks off, and I did watch those guys struggle a little bit. I wasn’t struggling at home, we’ll just say that.”
Kizzire hopes to put the disappointment behind him this week at the Travelers Championship, where he finished T-53 a year ago. And while his pair of trophies didn’t get him a tee time last week – or guarantee him a berth in The Open next month – they put him in prime position to make the season-ending Tour Championship, which would mean spots in the first three majors of 2019.
The combination of two recent wins and a ranking outside the top 60 isn’t one that comes up often on Tour, but Kizzire maintains a balanced perspective as he looks to get back to playing the kind of golf that will ensure he doesn’t miss any more majors in the near future.
“If I would have played better in between the U.S. Open and my last win, I would have gotten in. So my play was the reason I wasn’t in,” Kizzire said. “You certainly could look at it and say, ‘This guy’s got two wins, he should be in.’ But I’m not making too much of it.”
Masters, Players and U.S. Open champs grouped at Travelers
CROMWELL, Conn. – Fresh off a second straight U.S. Open victory, Brooks Koepka is getting right back to work at the Travelers Championship.
Koepka has stood by his commitment to tee it up at TPC River Highlands, becoming the first U.S. Open champ to play the following week on the PGA Tour since Justin Rose played the Travelers after his 2013 win at Merion. Koepka will play the first two rounds alongside Masters champ Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson, who captured The Players Championship last month.
Here’s a look at some of the other marquee, early-round groupings for a star-studded field outside Hartford (all times ET):
7:50 a.m. Thursday, 12:50 p.m. Friday: Jason Day, Xander Schauffele, Daniel Berger
Day is making his second straight Travelers appearance, having missed the cut both last year in Cromwell and last week at Shinnecock Hills. He’ll be joined by reigning Rookie of the Year Schauffele and Berger, who took home ROY honors in 2015 and last year was on the losing end of Jordan Spieth’s playoff dramatics at this event.
8 a.m. Thursday, 1 p.m. Friday: Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson
Koepka is making his third tournament appearance overall, but his first since a T-9 finish in 2016, before he had either of his two U.S. Open trophies. Reed has become a regular at this event and enters off a fourth-place showing on Long Island, while Simpson cruised to victory last month at TPC Sawgrass and tied for 10th last week.
12:50 p.m. Thursday, 7:50 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, Russell Knox
This was the tournament that turned things around last year for Spieth, who took home the title in his debut thanks to one of the most dramatic shots of the year in a playoff against Berger. He’ll start his title defense alongside a pair of past champs, as Leishman won here for his first Tour title back in 2012 and Knox was a winner two years ago when the tournament was played in August.
1 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m. Friday: Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas
This group should get plenty of attention in the early rounds, with Thomas entering as the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 2 and joined a pair of players who will launch drives all across TPC River Highlands. Watson has feasted on this layout, winning in both 2010 and 2015 among five top-10 finishes, while McIlroy tied for 17th last year in his tournament debut but missed the cut last week at Shinnecock.
Travelers Championship: Tee times, TV schedule, stats
There will be plenty of star power this week in Hartford as the PGA Tour moves north for the Travelers Championship. Here is the key info for this week's event.
How to watch:
Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.
Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.
Purse: $7 million
Course: TPC River Highlands (par 70, 6,841 yards)
Defending champion: Jordan Spieth. Defeated Daniel Berger with a birdie on the first playoff hole.
Notables in the field
• Missed last two cuts (the Memorial, U.S. Open) entering this week
• 188th on PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting (4th in strokes gained: tee to green)
• Only player to win Travelers Championship back-to-back: Phil Mickelson (2001-02)
• Making third career start in Travelers Championship (last start: T-9 in 2016)
• First player to play Travelers week after U.S. Open win since 2013 (Justin Rose)
• First player to win U.S. Open back-to-back since 1988-89 (Curtis Strange)
• Fifth career start in this event (MC, T-3, MC last three years)
• Second on PGA Tour this season in strokes gained: tee to green (+1.49)
• Second career start in Travelers Championship (T-17 last year)
• Missed cut last week at U.S. Open (shot 80 in opening round)
• Fourth career start in Travelers Championship (best finish: T-18 in 2014)
• Leads PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting this season
• Earned second-most world ranking points of any player in 2018
• Finished fourth at U.S. Open last week (three shots behind Koepka)
Day 'disappointed' in USGA's handling of course, Phil
CROMWELL, Conn. – Jason Day had the weekend off following a missed cut at the U.S. Open, but that didn’t prevent the Aussie from keeping an eye on all the drama that unfolded at Shinnecock Hills.
The former world No. 1 found it “disappointing,” – with “it” being both the deterioration of a major championship setup and the fallout from Phil Mickelson’s putter slap during the third round.
Day is hoping to bounce back from an early exit at this week’s Travelers Championship, but before turning his attention to TPC River Highlands he shared that the brunt of his disappointment stemmed from the USGA’s inability to keep Shinnecock playable during the third round and their subsequent decision to water it down for the tournament’s conclusion.
“It’s more the course, about how they set it up. Because Saturday was a total, it was like two different golf courses, practically, on the greens Saturday versus Sunday,” Day said. “I just wish they would leave it alone and just let it go. Not saying to let the greens go and let them dry out and make it unfair, I’m just saying plan accordingly and hopefully whatever the score finishes, it finishes, whether it’s under par or over par.”
But Day’s frustration also tied back to Mickelson’s head-turning decision to hit a moving ball on the 13th green during the third round, and the USGA’s subsequent ruling that the actions merited a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.
“It’s obviously disappointing to see what Phil did,” he said. “I think a lot of people have mixed reviews about what he did.”
USGA officials explained over the weekend that Mickelson’s actions explicitly fell under Rule 14-5, which called for a two-shot addition and turned his score of 8 into a 10, rather than Rule 1-2 or Rule 33-7 that could have resulted in disqualification for a “serious breach” of the rules.
Day felt it was unfortunate that all of Saturday’s drama deflected attention from a world-class performance from Brooks Koepka en route to a successful title defense, but when it comes to the handling of the Mickelson controversy he believes the USGA could have made good use of a mulligan.
“It’s just unfortunate that it happened at the USGA’s tournament, where they enforce the rules, like the R&A. And I think they may have, they probably should have enforced a different outcome for Phil,” Day said. “But it is what it is. It’s done. It’s just disappointing that that is overshadowing the winner of the whole week. I think if they had it back again, they may have chosen a different outcome.”