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OMG! I WAS IN THE SAME ROOM AS TIGER WOODS

Nick Roushby:Nick Roush05/14/24

RoushKSR

Tiger Woods. He was standing right there. We were breathing the same air. Me and Tiger Woods in the same room at the same time?!?!?! You gotta be freaking kidding me.

No, I didn’t get a chance to ask one of my childhood heroes a question, but I don’t care. Just being near the guy was mind-boggling. It almost didn’t happen. Let me explain how these stars aligned.

First and foremost, I am right in the middle of the generation that grew up loving golf because of Tiger Woods. He won the PGA Championship at Valhalla just a few months before my eighth birthday. My favorite t-shirt had Tiger Woods on the front, dressed in his Sunday reds, fist-pumping in celebration. It was bought oversized for me to grow into. By the time it finally fit, the t-shirt was covered in holes.

I was wearing that old Tiger Woods shirt when he completed the Tiger Slam. The 2001 Masters Championship happened during a family spring break trip to Lake Cumberland. The following Monday morning I joined my Dad for the car ride to the state park lodge to see a victorious Tiger on the front page of the Courier-Journal.

Tiger Woods is transcendent in a world where celebrity has become commonplace. This applies even more to someone who operates in the sports world for a living. There aren’t many people who carry an aura around them wherever they go, but Tiger Woods is still one of them… and I almost missed my chance to see him.

(Almost) a Missed Opportunity with Tiger Woods

The Player Interview Area at the PGA Championship is a tent near the Valhalla Clubhouse. Why does this matter? Thunderstorms are moving in and out of the area throughout the day on Tuesday. About an hour before Tiger Woods was set to speak with the media, the sirens sounded, moving all of the players off the golf course.

The suspension in play also suspended the player press conferences. Instead of taking questions from the media, PR reps and pool reporters would ask players questions on video to submit to reporters. My hopes of asking Tiger Woods a question were dashed.

Settling in at the Media Center to grind out a few posts before departing Valhalla, I was two sentences into a UK baseball update when I heard, “Player press conferences will resume with Tiger Woods in the Player Interview Area in three to four minutes.”

THREE TO FOUR MINUTES?!?!?!?!?!?

There was no way I was going to make it in time. I still needed to smash publish on a post that was nowhere near completion and jog a few football fields just to get a chance to ask Tiger a question. My fingers typed faster than they’ve ever typed before.

Fortunately, I was able to make it in time to see Tiger Woods at the podium and listen to the man field questions from the back of the crowded room. Even though I did not get to ask the question I personally had in mind, Ryan Black was ready to hoist the mantle. The Courier-Journal Kentucky beat reporter is a huge golf fan. He was ready for this moment and he delivered.

“Obviously this is not going to be an apples-to-apples comparison,” said Black, “But you’ve played Augusta so many times, you’ve played Torre Pines so many times, given that you’ve won there and you’ve won here, is there a comfort level in coming back to a course where you’ve won and you know how to get the job done?”

“It’s been 24 years, and ten years ago I didn’t play well,” Tiger responded, “But the memories of coming back here and re-living some of the shots I was able to pull off back then…”

Did I have a lifelong dream fulfilled of meeting Tiger Woods? Not quite, but it was still pretty damn cool.

Tiger Woods Press Conference at Valhalla
It was a packed house for the Tiger Woods Press Conference at Valhalla.

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2024-05-27