Tiger Woods, the Student
Head of the Class
Serious, focused, analytical and immersed in his subject: That
is Tiger Woods the golfer. That was also Tiger Woods the
student. At the three schools Woods attended--Cerritos
Elementary, Orangeview Junior High and Western High--he was
nearly a straight-A student, but academics didn't always come
easily. According to teachers who had him in their classrooms,
Woods had a natural curiosity, methodically dealt with classwork
and was determined to succeed.
Woods began kindergarten at Cerritos in the fall of 1981. On his
first day, some older boys tied him to a tree and taunted him
with racial slurs. Woods has never forgotten the incident, but
the episode didn't damage his attitude toward school. According
to his former teachers, he was at ease in the classroom and well
liked by his classmates.
"The other kids talked about Tiger's golf or his having been on
That's Incredible!, but Tiger never did," says his second- and
third-grade teacher, Carol McAllister. "I remember he was the
first one in the class to get contact lenses, because it helped
his golf, and when the other kids marveled at that, Tiger got
embarrassed. He didn't have his hand up a lot, but he was
obviously bright and participated in discussions. He was very
grown up, one of those quiet leaders the others respected."
August 20, 2000
That continued in the seventh and eighth grades at Orangeview.
"I saw the name Tiger on the class roster and expected a
rambunctious kid," says Carl Vanderbosch, Woods's seventh-grade
history teacher. "But at an age when most kids can't sit still
very long, he had an amazing attention span. The thing that
impressed me most, though, was his sense of self. When we were
studying Asian history and focusing on religion, he raised his
hand to volunteer that he came from a Buddhist background. Just
the way he carried himself, he took life as I imagined a
Buddhist might, and he seems much the same in that regard."
At Western, Woods's golf schedule became more intense, but he
didn't take easy courses or ask for favors from his instructors.
As a senior his courses included two advanced placement
classes--economics and government. "What I loved about him was
that he had a real respect for education," says Ed Woodson,
Woods's world history teacher in his freshman year. "He had one
of those focused, analytical minds that liked working things out.
You could tell by looking at his eyes. It's the same look he has
on the golf course."
"The word that comes to mind is conscientious," says Ron
Butterfield, who had Woods, then a senior, in government. "When
he had a tournament coming up, he would ask what he needed to do
to keep up--not the other way around--and he would do the work, on
time and very well."
Just as Woods practices to improve the weaknesses in his golf
game, he worked hardest in the classes that he found the most
difficult, according to his Spanish teacher in his junior year,
Dianne McGinnis. "The subject matter did not come easily to him,
and he struggled at the beginning of the semester," she says.
"But he began interacting more with the native speakers in the
class to improve his skills. By the end of the semester he had
really earned my respect. I was a real stickler, but I gave him
"Every career teacher has six or seven students he remembers for
the rest of his life," says Woodson. "Tiger was one of them, and
he would be if he had never won a golf tournament."
Shots to Savor
Even the great players have their biggest hits
At last year's PGA Championship, Tiger Woods made what I believe
was the most important shot of his career--a downhill eight-foot
putt for par on the 71st hole to maintain a one-stroke lead over
Sergio Garcia. It was a classic Savor Shot, the kind that's
almost as much fun to relive as it was to hit. Here are the
shots nine of the best players savored most.
JACK NICKLAUS By ramming home a double-breaking, downhill
four-footer on the 71st hole of the 1962 U.S. Open at Oakmont,
he remains tied for the lead with Arnold Palmer, whom he beats
in a playoff the next day for his first major win. " Just
thinking about that putt still gives me goose pimples," says
BEN HOGAN His two-iron from 188 yards ends up four feet from the
cup on the 10th hole at Oakland Hills during his epic final-round
67 at the '51 Open. He rarely rated his shots, but this one "went
exactly as I played it every inch of the way," he said.
BOBBY JONES After losing a three-stroke lead with four holes to
play at the '29 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, he sinks a curling,
downhill 12-footer for par on the 18th to tie Al Espinosa. Jones
beats Espinosa the next day in a playoff. Experts believe there
would've been no Grand Slam in '30 if Jones had missed.
BYRON NELSON His 230-yard three-wood over Rae's Creek lands 20
feet from the pin on the 13th hole at Augusta during the final
round of the '37 Masters, and the resulting eagle gives him his
two-shot margin of victory over Ralph Guldahl. Nelson says he
went for the green after telling himself, The Lord hates a
GENE SARAZEN His nine-iron recovery from the woods stops two feet
from the cup on the 38th hole of the final match of the '23 PGA
at Pelham Country Club. His foe, Walter Hagen, responds by
duffing a pitch and loses one up. Said Sarazen, "The hour after
that match was the only time I saw Hagen depressed."
GARY PLAYER After missing a two-foot par putt at the 15th hole
during the final round of the '72 PGA at Oakland Hills, he hits a
nine-iron over trees and water to four feet at the 16th. He rolls
in the winning birdie. "I needed the bleak awareness that nothing
but that precise shot would do to trigger the act," he says.
RAYMOND FLOYD Stalking Fred Couples down the stretch at the '92
Masters at age 49, he punches a 60-degree wedge from point-blank
range into the hump that bisects the 14th green. The ball takes
two spinning hops and dives into the hole for a birdie. "Shot of
my life," says Floyd, who still finished second.
JOHNNY MILLER On the first hole of the final round of the '73
Open at Oakmont, a 469-yard par-4, he plays a five-iron to four
feet, setting up the first of nine birdies during a historic 63.
The shot validates a preround adjustment to a drastically open
stance. Says Miller, "I didn't miss a shot all day."
NICK FALDO A five-iron through the wind and onto the 18th green
at Muirfield locks up his victory in the '87 British Open. "The
most important shot of my life," he says. "Straight at the flag.
I went hot and cold at the same time." --J.D.
No matter what the Tour says, we'll see more taped coverage of
Tiger Woods during early rounds and less live action, as we did
last Thursday at the Buick Open. The reason: It makes business
sense. Woods draws thousands of extra eyeballs, which translates
into thousands of extra dollars for the cable networks and
What do these players have in common?
They're the only fully exempt members of the Tour under 25 years
old. Garcia is 20, and Sabbatini and Woods are 24.
Which tournament should replace the du Maurier Classic as the
LPGA's fourth major?
Big Apple Classic.. 9%
Rochester Int'l... 8%
British Open.... 67%
--Based on 2,050 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Is Valhalla of major championship quality? Vote at
SYNONYMS for a PUTT THAT HAS NOT BEEN CONCEDED
Better brush that one, clean it up, get it close, got some golf
left, it's not in my line, knock it in, mark it, right there is
fine, still some chicken on that bone, still your turn, take your
time, that's your distance, U.S.A. (U Still Away).
Karrie Webb failed to win her third major of the season at the du
Maurier, finishing in a tie for seventh, but she fared better in
this year's Grand Slam events than any other LPGA player. Here
are the five golfers who did the best.
Nabisco LPGA U.S. Open du Maurier Avg.
Karrie Webb 1 T9 1 T7 4.5
Meg Mallon 3 17 T2 1 5.8
Se Ri Pak 15 T3 15 T7 10.0
A. Sorenstam 17 12 T9 3 10.3
Rosie Jones T8 28 T4 2 10.5
Pat Hatfield, Scotch Plains, N.J.
Hatfield, 65, a preschool teacher at Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA,
won the club championship at Roselle Golf Club for the 44th
time, with a 19-over-par 169. Hatfield, who defeated Elaine
Moffett by seven strokes, earned her first title at Roselle in
1952 at age 17 and has been club champion for the past 28 years.
Chris Wisler, Dover, Del.
Wisler, a senior at East Tennessee State, shot a final-round
six-under 64 to rally for a three-stroke win over Calvin Kupeyan
in the Porter Cup at Niagara Falls Country Club. Wisler played
the back nine in 30, eagling the par-5 13th by holing a pitching
wedge from 130 yards out. He has earned All-America honors the
last two seasons.
Celeste Troche, Asuncion, Paraguay
Troche, the SEC Freshman of the Year this past season at Auburn,
defeated Brenda Corrie Kuehn 5 and 4 to take the Trans National
Championship at Houndslake Country Club in Aiken, S.C. In the
36-hole final Troche made seven birdies and just two bogeys. She
will represent Paraguay this month in the World Amateur Team in
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