Woods on Mandela: 'The world is going to miss him'

By Jason SobelDecember 6, 2013, 1:24 am

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Tiger Woods missed what he described as kick-in putts on his first and last holes in the opening round of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge on Thursday, leaving him four shots off the lead with a 1-under 71. He was maybe not quite incensed, but certainly walked off the final green at Sherwood Country Club feeling a measure of frustration.

That feeling quickly dissipated, though, those trivialities overcome by a healthy dose of perspective.

That’s because upon finishing his round, Woods learned of the death of Nelson Mandela, whose impact on his life cannot be overstated.

“I've been influenced by him,” he said. “I got a chance to meet him with my father back in '98. He invited us to his home, and it was one of the inspiring times I've ever had in my life.”

One year after winning his first Masters title at the age of 21, a man of mixed cultural heritage triumphing on grounds that not long before would have prohibited him from competing, Woods was in South Africa to play in the Million Dollar Golf Challenge at Sun City. Mandela invited him and his father, Earl, to his home, resulting in a story Tiger has recounted publicly dozens of times since.

“My father and I went to have lunch with him,” he recalled earlier this year. “It still gives me chills to this day, thinking about it. A gentleman asked us to go into this side room over here and [said], ‘President Mandela will join you in a little bit.’ And we walked in the room and my dad and I were just kind of looking around.

“I said, ‘Dad, do you feel that?’ And he says, ‘Yeah, it feels different in this room.’

“It was just like a different energy in the room. We just looked at each other and just shrugged our shoulders and whatever. And maybe, I'm guessing probably 30 seconds later, I heard some movement behind me and it was President Mandela folding up the paper. And it was pretty amazing. The energy that he has, that he exudes, is unlike any person I've ever met.

“It was an honor to meet him at his home. And that's an experience that I will never, ever forget.”

When asked about Mandela on Thursday, Woods declined to recount this story one more time. “I'm not going to bore you with it again,” he said. But the truth is, even 15 years later, the story has never gotten boring.

For a man who so often appears robotic when answering questions, this story always gave him an opportunity to display some emotion. For one who frequently straddles the fence when addressing any political issue, it allowed a rare glimpse of passion that had always endured.

Tiger didn’t just meet Mandela. He didn’t just have lunch in his home and feel his presence in the room. No, he studied him. He understood – like so many other people – what this man meant to the world. He knew of the 27 years of imprisonment, the nonexistence of hatred, the refusal to inflict revenge upon those who had wronged him.

“I don't think any of us probably here could have survived that and come out as humble and as dignified as he did,” Woods said, echoing so many others’ sentiments. “To lead an entire nation and to basically love the world when he came out, I think that's a testament to his will and his spirit and who he was.”

Let’s not limit this story to the impact it had on the golf world solely to Woods, though.

Gary Player wore black and white pants during the 1960 Open Championship to raise awareness for his native South Africa’s struggles with apartheid. Forty years later, he wore the same pants to help celebrate its demise. After learning of Mandela’s death, he tweeted, “Nelson Mandela’s courage, forgiveness, love & hope inspired people around the world. He made me want to be a better man.”

When Louis Oosthuizen won the Open Championship in 2010 with Zack Rasego, a black man from South Africa, as his caddie, he thanked Mandela in the victory speech, ironically on his birthday. When countryman Ernie Els won the same tournament two years later, he likewise credited Mandela.

Each of these men, like Woods, has endured missteps within the game of golf. A few wayward drives, or some squirrely iron shots, or, yes, even a couple of missed putts from kick-in range. They are enough to leave any professional golfer walking off the final green with a measure of frustration.

On Thursday, those frustrations were displaced by perspective after the day’s biggest news. Suddenly none of it felt very substantial, being four shots off the lead instead of two didn’t seem too important.

Woods thought back to that day 15 years ago, when he felt Nelson Mandela’s presence in his home before meeting him, and spoke from the heart.

“It's a sad day for many people around the world,” he said. “The world is going to miss him.”

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Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Sweet 16

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 24, 2018, 4:00 pm

Here is how things played out in the Round of 16 on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The week began with 64 players taking on Austin Country Club,but the field is dwindling. Click here for Day 3 match results:

Match 97: Bubba Watson (35) def. Brian Harman (18), 2 and 1. Watson was 1 down going to the eighth hole, but he won four of the next five holes to turn around this battle of lefties. A 12-foot putt for eagle at the 12th dropped, giving him a 3 up lead coming home. It was Watson’s second eagle of the day. He looks as if he’s still riding the confidence from that Genesis Open victory last month. Watson will advance to play the winner of the Kiradech Aphibarnrat/Charles Howell III match in the quarterfinals.  

Match 100: Justin Thomas (2) def. Si Woo Kim (50), 6 and 5. Thomas remains on fire in this format, steamrolling Kim a day after completing a round-robin sweep of his group by blowing away Francesco Molinari, 7 and 5. The Kim match felt like it was over shortly after it started, with Thomas making the turn 5 up. Thomas will advance to play the winner of the Sergio Garcia/Kyle Stanley match in the quarterfinals.  

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.