Witness: Alister Mason Police officer

Dec. 18, 2000
Dec. 18, 2000

Table of Contents
Dec. 18, 2000

Sportsman Of The Year

Witness: Alister Mason Police officer

EVENT: British Open, Old Course, St. Andrews, Scotland
DATE: July 23

This is an article from the Dec. 18, 2000 issue

"I was born in St. Andrews 55 years ago, grew up in St. Andrews,
learned my golf there. The manners of the game have changed over
the years. When Kel Nagle, from Australia, won the Open at the
Old Course in '60, we clapped for him. Now they shout for the
players as if they're footballers. When Tiger comes through,
they clamor for him. There is awe for his golf, but you wouldn't
say he's beloved, not just yet.

"Fifty-five is our police retirement age, so I arranged with my
sergeant to make the Sunday of the Open my final day of work. In
the afternoon, as a special honor, I was stationed on the steps
to the Royal and Ancient clubhouse, seeing the players as they
came in and out.

"I was caught between two stools, between being a police officer
and being a fan. I kept track of how Tiger was progressing over
the police radio and on the big scoreboard beside the 1st
fairway. After Tiger played his approach shot to 18, a lady
streaker ran across the 18th fairway and onto the green, dancing
with the flagstick for a moment. She was in my custody for about
a minute. I put a bright yellow jacket on her, borrowed from a
parking official, and she was taken away. Tiger did not respond
to her at all. His concentration is astounding. The lady was not

"During the awards ceremony, Tiger had his back to the clubhouse,
but I could hear his every word. I was feeling a bit of
trepidation about my retirement, my future. Those were my final
moments as a police officer.

"It takes time for a winner to become a beloved figure in
Scotland because we always root for underdogs. I'm sure,
eventually, we'll come around on Tiger, as we did with Jack
Nicklaus, as we did with Bobby Jones. We'll take to anyone who
plays good golf, if he plays the proper way, which Tiger
certainly does. All he has to do is win a few more Opens. If he
loses a few close ones, that would help, too."


In his nine Tour wins, the number of times Woods held or shared
the lead going into the final round. (Only Phil Mickelson came
from behind on Sunday to beat Woods, in the Tour Championship.)

The number of starts Tiger made in the majors before completing
the career Grand Slam. The next fastest was Nicklaus, with 27.