It Was Golf or Special Ops for Tiger Woods
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 3, 2007 If Tiger Woods weren’t a professional golfer, he’d probably be a member of the military’s special operations community, Woods told reporters today at the Congressional Country Club here today. (Video)
“I told Dad if I didn’t make it (as a golfer) in the first few years, that’s probably where I’d go,” he said. “I’d probably end up going into the military – and I don’t know what branch – but I’d certainly want to be in the special operations community.”
Indeed, Woods underwent four days of Army special operations training at Fort Bragg, N.C., in conjunction with a golf clinic he hosted there in April 2004. Woods’ late father, Earl Woods, wore the Green Beret for 12 years as a Special Forces soldier during his 20-year Army career.
“That just seems to be more of a fit considering what I grew up with, and I certainly understand it and can relate to it,” Tiger said. “But somehow I ended up here. I made a couple putts in those years.”
Woods is hosting the AT&T National golf tournament here July 3-8. Besides “getting a W” – or winning the tournament – Woods said honoring the men and women serving America was one of his overarching goals as the event’s host.
Tomorrow morning, the world’s top-rated professional golfer will play a practice round, called the Earl Woods Memorial Pro-Am, with pairings that include Army Sgt. Maj. Mia Kelly and Air Force Master Sgt. Andrew Amor.
Woods said he is excited about playing alongside the servicemembers.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “I’ve seen their bios, but I haven’t met anyone yet, so I’m really looking forward to that, and hopefully I won’t get beat too bad.”
The golfer said that when he turned 10 years old, he began to play on military golf courses, using his status as a “military dependent.”
“I had my little card, and I could flash that and get on the golf course,” he said. “The only frustrating thing was a lot of military bases had an age limit of 10. I thought I could play before that.”
Woods has since hit the links on many of America’s military courses, and he especially likes the Air Force Academy’s course in Colorado Springs, Colo., he said.
“I’ve played a lot of military facilities around the country. For one, they’re cheaper,” he joked.
As a tribute to golf fans in the military, Woods has arranged for tournament sponsors to distribute 30,000 free tickets to active U.S. military personnel. Those attending will be able to enjoy the view from a special seating gallery, and snack on discounted concessions after showing military identification.
“I know I can’t serve with them, but I just want to say, ‘Thank you’ in some way, and this is our way of being able to do that,” he said.
“Even though my dad was retired, I basically grew up on a military base, and just understanding the commitment that it takes each and every day, for the service men and women, what they do for us, I just think that it was something that should be honored,” Woods said.