PALM HARBOR — Times sports columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents from the Valspar Championship
Golfers do not sign autographs while they are playing a round. Especially Tiger Woods, even during the pro-am.
Well, unless you're a really cute kid with a really cool T-shirt.
Harrison Connerty, 5, from Trinity got Woods' autograph on the 16th hole after Woods was made aware of Harrison's T-shirt.
"Tiger, my mom wants your autograph," his shirt said. He even got to go out on the fairway with Woods. Harrison's mom, Jennifer, made the shirt.
And she got her autograph.
Jennifer had tickets to the 2009 Masters but was pregnant with her first child and couldn't go. Then she won the ticket lottery for the 2012 Ryder Cup at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois but didn't go because she was pregnant with Harrison. So when she heard Woods was coming to Innisbrook, "we ran (to get tickets)," she said.
"Huge (fan) since, like, '99," Jennifer said. "Love his game. Love his enthusiasm. I mean, what's not to like?"
Woods signed Harrison's shirt, then gave Harrison a high five.
For Tampa Bay golf fans who haven't seen Tiger Woods up close, he appears fit and ready. And he definitely still has a presence among his peers. @ValsparChamp @TB_Times @Innisbrook @TigerWoods @RodneyHomeTeam @PGATOUR https://t.co/g2xH16TfBL— TampaBayTimesSports (@TBTimes_Sports) March 7, 2018
Brian Canterbury is actually thankful for morning rush-hour traffic. He was running late coming from his home in Riverview. Because he was late, he got to caddie a hole for Tiger Woods, the par-3 17th. See, 17 members of the military were taking turns caddying on 17 for the pros coming through.
Canterbury arrived at the hole the same time as Woods.
"I just got lucky in the draw," said Canterbury, who is a month away from retirement in the Air Force.
Because the hole is a par 3, all Canterbury had to do was hand Woods a putter. But he did score an autographed ball and a (slightly used) glove.
"Pretty cool," Canterbury said.
Video: Cool moment as Tiger Woods stops before 18th hole in today’s pro-am at Innisbrook to autograph glove he used in today’s round for military caddie in his foursome. pic.twitter.com/ofRF8JbC1q— Greg Auman (@gregauman) March 7, 2018
If you can't get enough of Tiger Woods (and who can?), check out @GCTigerTracker. Someone from the Golf Channel essentially follows him around the course and tweets about his day. Some of it is serious. Some of it is snarky. All of it is fun.
Sliders grilling up next to 12 tee. Tiger grabs one, then goes back for another. Better than a Yelp review. pic.twitter.com/SOxGMWMQgB— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) March 7, 2018
So maybe Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson aren't the bitter rivals everybody thinks they are. What was Woods' reaction to Mickelson winning the World Golf Championship tournament in Mexico last weekend, his first win since 2013?
"I thought it was great," Woods said. "He has been playing well."
Mickelson, 47, winning is an inspiration for Woods, 42, as are the young players such as Jordan Spieth, 24, and Rory McIlroy, 28.
"Both," Woods said. "To watch young guys do what they're doing, that's what they're supposed to do. They come out on tour, establish themselves. … What Phil is doing is showing us we can still do it later in our careers."
Video: Rory McIlroy talks about being in the field for this week’s Valspar Championship at Innisbrook. @McIlroyRory @ValsparChamp pic.twitter.com/oactGQc3Vx— Greg Auman (@gregauman) March 7, 2018
1. The three regular-guy amateurs who played with Tiger Woods — Aaron Erter, Al Mistysyn and Clint Davis — played pretty well considering they were playing with one of the greatest golfers ever and with hundreds of people watching. Most of us would have had trouble putting the ball on the tee, let alone hitting it.
2. Worst news of the day: Rain is predicted for Sunday, which could mean pushing the final round to Monday. Wait, perhaps an extra day of Woods? Maybe that's not the worst news after all.
3. Prediction: Woods will be in contention to win Sunday.
Times staff writer Rodney Page contributed to this report. Tom Jones at [email protected] Follow @tomwjones.