Tiger re­calls good times with Palmer

‘I en­joyed be­ing around Arnold and I’m go­ing to miss that for sure’

The New Age (Gauteng) - - SPORT -

TIGER Woods is tak­ing his rous­ing come­back tour to one of his favourite haunts, Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill lay­out, where the 14­times Ma­jor win­ner has tri­umphed eight times.

Woods not only feels supremely con­fi­dent on the track, but cher­ishes the time spent with Palmer, who tra­di­tion­ally greeted the tour­na­ment win­ner on the last green in the city Woods for­merly called home.

“To be able to win this tour­na­ment (was great) and to have Arnold there and to shake his hand and for him to give me a big hug and a cou­ple of times he said ‘I called it, I knew you were go­ing to make that putt’.

“It was lit­tle things like that, shar­ing jokes with him out there on the green and both of us laugh­ing. Those are mo­ments that un­for­tu­nately I’ll never have again, but I have those mem­o­ries,” Woods told re­porters ahead of Thurs­day’s open­ing round of the Arnold Palmer In­vi­ta­tional.

The 42­year­old Woods had a long re­la­tion­ship with seven­times Ma­jor win­ner Palmer, who died in Septem­ber 2016 aged 87.

“I first met Arnold when I played here in the US Ju­nior when I was 15. And then I moved here in 1996 and he in­vited me over here to play in his Mon­day shoot­out which I did, but I didn’t like it much be­cause he took my money,” Woods said.

“But I thor­oughly en­joyed be­ing around him, be­ing with him and we had so many great times. “None more so than last time I won here in 2013. We sat down, we had a great time to­gether and I’m go­ing to miss those times, for sure.” That was the last year Woods won a PGA Tour ti­tle but now he looks like he may fi­nally be over the back in­juries that side­lined him and lim­ited his abil­ity to swing the club.

His run­ner­up fin­ish last week at the Valspar Cham­pi­onship has lifted his con­fi­dence and given him hope of end­ing his five­year Tour ti­tle drought and maybe adding to his Ma­jor haul for the first time since 2008 at next month’s Masters. Woods said he is tak­ing it one step at a time since re­turn­ing to com­pe­ti­tion this year af­ter un­der­go­ing spinal fu­sion surgery one year ago.

“I must keep get­ting bet­ter. Just keep mak­ing in­cre­men­tal im­prove­ments and I think I’ve done that.

“Each and every week I’ve learned from what I’ve done and more im­por­tantly I’m learn­ing my body,” the four-time Masters cham­pion said. – Reuters


FOND MEM­O­RIES: Tiger Woods says he first met Palmer when he played in the US Ju­nior.

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