4 observations from watching Tiger Woods up close for the first time……..

4 observations from watching Tiger Woods up close for the first time……..

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Working in golf is fun.

Traveling to work in golf? I’ll admit now: Slightly less fun.

My week began with a 4 a.m. alarm and six hours of travel, which normally would have been enough to put me in a bad mood. But not this time. I was giddy. Not only is this week’s PGA Championship my first time covering a tournament in person for GOLF, it’s also my first time attending a major championship for any reason. Sure, the pre-dawn flight from Boise to Louisville (via Minneapolis) was suboptimal, but I was getting paid to go to the PGA Championship. I would’ve taken a Greyhound.

From the window seat of the first leg of my Monday morning flight, I pondered the possibilities.

It’s embarrassing to admit, but seeing Tiger play in person didn’t really cross my mind. When I started playing golf, Tiger had just won his 14th major at the 2008 U.S. Open. His 15th major at the Masters in 2019 is one of the great sports memories of my life, but on the whole, I’ve watched him miss the cut more times than I’ve seen him win. During most of my golf-watching life, Tiger has been a mythical figure lurking mostly in the background, popping up every so often to remind everyone that he’s still here, and he’s still the best ever to do it. 

And then I saw him stroll into the press tent on Tuesday and it hit me.

I’m an idiot. I have a chance to watch the GOAT. The guy who took the sport I love to heights nobody thought possible.

Nothing is guaranteed in life. Tiger and his lengthy list of career-altering injuries are proof of that. And forget Tiger — this could be my last major for all I know. I didn’t want to watch him, I had to.

Tiger has been here since Sunday. Including the scouting trip last week and the three other events he’s played at Valhalla, he already knows every blade of grass on the golf course.

He says it takes him two hours to get ready and two hours to power down every single time he plays. With that in mind, it’s not a stretch to say he’s been up at 4 a.m. every day this week (so much for my whining). The steep land movement around the course makes navigating the place an onerous walk for even a healthy twentysomething. I can only imagine what it’s doing to his right leg and fused back. So why not take it easy today before four straight days of 18 holes? Because he’s Tiger Woods.

He spent close to two hours on the range on Wednesday morning, including more than 40 minutes hitting 10-footers. Then he went out and played a couple practice holes to get a feel for the softness of the course after a few days of rain. He can’t help it, he loves the grind. It’s inspiring to watch and I’m grateful to witness his legendary competitiveness up close this week.

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