Growing up the son of a Green Beret soldier, Eldrick Woods appreciated the sacrifices involved in military life long before he became the world’s number one golfer.
That’s why Woods, better known as Tiger after the nickname of a Vietnamese soldier who befriended his late father Earl, has a special feeling for the wounded soldiers who will join him in opening ceremonies for the PGA National.
“Having the servicemen and women out there makes for such a special week,” Woods said Tuesday. “They do truly put their lives on the line and a lot of them have gotten hurt.”
Woods has fought to recover from several knee operations but seeing soldiers who have lost limbs or the ability to walk gives the 14-time major winner a perspective on problems far greater than any golf course could ever offer.
“It hits home when you see one of them come out and to see what they are dealing with on a daily basis and what they have to go through because they are putting their lives on the line for us and unfortunately had something happen,” Woods said.
“It’s the nature of war. That’s what happens and the grim reality of it when you see one of the Wounded Warriors is that is what does happen in war and in combat.” It’s why Woods offers free tickets to soldiers for his six million-dollar event that tees off Thursday, one which benefits his foundation and its youth work.
Woods doubles as star attraction and host this week, a double duty mix of practice, playing and meetings. “We have a few more meetings, a few more appearances you don’t normally do, but that’s something that you get used to,” he said.
“You learn how to balance your time and try and be as ready as you possibly can. Your workout schedule is kind of thrown off a little bit. Your rest periods are thrown off a little bit. Woods, who hosts a charity event in Southern California every December that attracts top players, would enjoy winning this week as host like he has at the World Challenge.
“I love being the greedy host. It is fun winning your own event,” Woods said. “Hopefully I can do that again this week.” Woods has the course set up with testing rough and firm greens. “I’m very pleased with how it’s set up. If we can get some dry weather, this golf course will be playing the way all the guys want.”