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Junior World Golf Tournament : Little Tiger Has Huge Potential : Woods, 10, Shoots for Third Straight Junior Golf Title

July 16, 1986|CHRIS ELLO

SAN DIEGO — Eldrick (Tiger) Woods isn't like most of the other participants in the 10-and-under division of this week's Junior World Golf Tournament at Presidio Hills.

As a two-time defending champion and as a youngster who has not lost a tournament this season, people expect big things from this little person.

At 4-feet 9-inches tall and 81 pounds, Tiger Woods has before him this week a tall order. Nobody has ever won three consecutive Junior World Golf Titles.

"That's my goal this year," Tiger said.

So far, things haven't gone exactly as planned. Woods shot a three-over-par 59 in the first round Tuesday and trails the leader--Martin Valdes of the Philippines--by three strokes.

Last year, Woods won the championship by 14 strokes, shooting 10-under-par 156 for the tournament.

After his first-round effort, he was visibly upset. Well, about as upset as Tiger gets.

He tossed down his clubs and sought out his father, Earl, for a quick chat.

"It didn't go well today," Tiger told his father. "I couldn't get anything to go right."

Earl, who accompanies his son to most tournaments, isn't one to panic. He tries to teach this to Tiger.

"Well, what did you shoot?" Earl said.

"Fifty-nine," Tiger said. Last year, while winning the title, he shot 52-53-53.

"Well, it's no big deal," Earl Woods said. "You'll go out and get them tomorrow."

Earl then turned to the media members waiting for Tiger to finish his round and told them the real story: "He's just like any other golfer. He doesn't like to do badly."

Well, he's only like any other golfer in certain respects. Because, unlike most golfers, Tiger was still faced with quite a bit of media attention even after his poor showing.

That's the way it is when you've been on top for so long, even if so long means only the last two years.

"I told him before the tournament that he was going to have to play conservatively in the first round," Earl Woods said. "I'll let him loose tomorrow."

Was it the pressure that bothered Tiger? Hardly.

He was calm after his round as he spoke to media members.

"I only got to use two clubs today," Tiger said. "And the biggest one I used was a wedge. This is a short course (no hole is longer that 100 yards) and I've been used to playing larger courses. It's hard to get adjusted."

Then Tiger turned to his father.

"Let's go to a regular course today," he said. "I need to use my woods."

Tiger has been playing a lot of golf for a long time. And he loves it.

His father, a 3 handicap, got him started when he was only 11 1/2 months old. He was so amazing as a youngster that he even appeared on "The Mike Douglas Show" when he was 2.

Bob Hope was also on the show that day and he challenged the little Tiger to a little putting tournament. Tiger missed three putts before he got frustrated and threw the ball into the cup.

Then he told Douglas that the green wasn't even and that there was a big break in it.

"Mike Douglas knew it, too," Earl Woods said. "All he could do was laugh. He couldn't believe that Tiger could see the break, also."

At 4, Tiger was being entered in tournaments by his father at a junior golf club in Long Beach. Some of Tiger's opponents were as old as 17.

"They would get a chuckle and then they would see him hit the ball," Earl said. "Sure, he couldn't beat a 17-year-old player then, but he was good enough to play with them."

At 7, he appeared on "That's Incredible." Tiger's father says his son still has some things to work on, such as patience.

"Ever since he got frustrated on 'The Mike Douglas Show' and threw that ball into the cup, he's been impatient," Earl said. "But we're working on it."

Tuesday, Tiger got a chance to work on his media relations.

After his round, Kathy Chin, a reporter for Channel 10, needed him to help start her segment on the junior tournament.

"Now, Tiger, I want you to give me some pointers," said Chin, assuming the stance of a purely amateurish player. "I'll say my line and then you say yours."

Tiger, suddenly panicked. This TV business, he thought, isn't as easy as lining up a 20-footer.

But after some encouragement from his dad and a few takes, Tiger told the newscaster: "First of all, you've got to put your shoes on. Then, you need to change your grip. On second thought, maybe you should give up the game."

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