Mendoza: Woods still at it

Al Mendoza
·2 min read

Only the diehard fans now of Tiger Woods could be heard yelling in glee on Friday, Nov. 12. That included me.

Why? Because Woods opened up with a four-under-par 68 in the Masters at Augusta National in Augusta, Georgia.

That tied his best score in a first round of the Masters, removed from its traditional opening of April due to the coronavirus pandemic that shooed away spectators for the first time in the most galleried golf event in the world.

And why am I still cheering Woods on, when many pundits and odds-makers themselves have now become too unwilling to seed him in the event he had won five times already?

I just can’t help it.

I just don’t dump—a person, an object—that I’ve come to love, admire.

I just make it a habit to put anyone on a pedestal, someone who had impressed me, touched my heart.

Woods happens to be one of those chosen few in my list.

It’s like a friend: You can’t just easily dump him. Always, you take him for what he is. He might have done wrong, you’d still call him, consider him, a friend.

Oh, yeah, I fell in love with Woods when I first saw him as a nine-year-old, beating our very own Martin Valdes in the World Juniors in San Diego, California.

I’ve said it here a thousand times but what the heck. Let me say it again.

Woods was one shot behind Valdes going to the last hole.

I was having beer with Colonel Woods, Tiger’s Dad, at the clubhouse when we got wind of a possible cliffhanger of an ending.

To cut to the chase, Woods birdied the final hole against Valdes’ bogey.

A star is born.

Sobbing uncontrollably, Valdes refused to accept the runner-up trophy.

Then Woods wrapped his comforting arms around Valdes. Champion. That remains etched in my mind, and it will remain that way until US President Donald Trump concedes.

Woods’ 68 on Friday put him a mere three strokes behind leader Paul Casey. But, more significantly, it gives an enormous boost to Tiger’s bid for a sixth green jacket that could move him two majors shy of the all-time 18 majors of Jack Nicklaus.