31 Mar 2022

Jenny Hennessy – Tiger made the game more inclusive

Growing up in Ireland five hours ahead of US East Coast time, many Sunday nights were spectacles of golf on TV by the greatest golfer of all time, Tiger Woods.

Watching Tiger play was electric. From his confident stride up the fairways, wearing his intimidating red attire for the Sunday charge, to the emotion he displayed, and above all, hitting golf shots that were simply out of this world. Tiger had it all. 

 Last month Tiger Woods was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame at the PGA Tour Headquarters in Florida. An emotional Woods accepted the award from his 14-year-old daughter, Sam. With Tiger Woods claiming 82 PGA Tour victories, and an astonishing total of 15 Major wins, he is without a doubt the greatest golfer of all time. Sam spoke about how proud she was of her father for constantly overcoming obstacles, she referred to him as a ‘fighter’. 

 Both Tiger and Sam took some time in their respective speeches to talk about the obstacles and challenges Tiger has had to overcome as a minority in the sport. Thanks to role models like Tiger Woods, defying the odds every time and breaking down barriers in the sport, golf has become a much more inclusive and diverse sport and continues to evolve every day.  

 I first saw Tiger play at the 2006 Ryder Cup at The K Club at home in Ireland. I remember the day as if it was yesterday. As a young 13-year-old golfer with big dreams, this day out at The K Club was certainly one to remember. I attended the event with my Mum, Dad and older sister. The crowds were massive and the atmosphere electric. Getting my first glimpse of  him in the flesh didn’t even seem real, it was a true ‘pinch me’ moment. The golfing hero who I had spent many Sunday nights cheering on behind a television screen was now there, right in front of my eyes. To me, he was a total rockstar and I was in complete awe of his presence! 

Chasing Tiger

 A few years later I got another glimpse of Tiger at the 2010 JP McManus Pro-Am held at Adare Manor. At this stage my younger brother, Jack, was probably the biggest Tiger Woods fan in Ireland, he couldn’t get close enough to Tiger and followed his every move around the course that day. I tried to keep up with him as he dashed along the fairways following his ‘hero’s’ every move, but I simply couldn’t keep up! Fast forward eight years, my most recent sighting of the star golfer was at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in 2018. Studying in the US at the time, I spent my spring break in Orlando with family. The morning was enjoyed with Mickey Mouse, lunchtime watching Tiger Woods and to end a perfect day, I spent the evening watching Rory McIlroy take the win at Bay Hill in true style, which ended his 18-month victory drought on Tour. Days like this I will simply never forget. 

Tiger winning the 2019 Masters was a weekend to remember, his first Major win in 11 years.  Winning another Masters in front of his children meant so much to him.  Many Tiger fans all over the world are sitting on the edge of their seats to see if he will announce himself to play in the upcoming Masters later this month. Playing in the PNC Championship with his 12-year-old son Charlie back in December was his first and only appearance since his car accident, we are all hoping he will make his great return soon. 

 Like all of us, Tiger has had some blips along the way, but his sheer grit and perseverance in all traces of life is hugely admirable. I know we haven’t seen the end of Tiger Woods, I can’t wait to see what his future holds, he is simply the greatest player of all time. 

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