Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Sports

Favorite Tiger (and non-Tiger) moments from the Valspar Championship gallery

PALM HARBOR — It was like nothing the Vaspar Championship had ever seen.

Crowds in excess of 30,000 Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

A Tiger Woods charge up the leaderboard and to within 2 feet of a playoff.

Fist pumps. Roars. Drama.

So we surveyed the golf fans at Innisbrook on Sunday and asked them for their favorite memories.

Here's a collection:

Woods “gives people an opportunity to believe that if you practice hard, if you’re really serious about what you’re doing, one day — especially for the kids — you might be able to come out on the Tour and do as well as he’s doing or better,” Kelly said. [THOMAS BASSINGER | Times]

WILEY KELLY, 62, of Tampa

Job: Bus operator for Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority

Original plan for Sunday: "I might be here, but more than likely I would have been playing golf."

Unforgettable moment: "When I got home from work (Thursday), I watched the second showing (of the Valspar first round) on the Golf Channel. I saw Tiger hit that shot where his back was against the tree. That's the mental awareness to go full at it knowing that there's the possibility you could break your wrist. Just the awareness of hitting the ball full and releasing the club at the right time … that's amazing. You probably won't ever see any golfers do anything like that, or even try to attempt (it)."

“If I had a message for these tour players, it’s whenever you can … make that impression on that little kid,” Johnson said. “Toss the ball to the kid. Give them your glove. Give them your hat. Sign autographs. Do whatever you can to keep that kid interested because it’s a lifetime game.” [THOMAS BASSINGER | Times]

SAGE JOHNSON, 39, and BECKETT JOHNSON, 10, of Sarasota

Job: Sage is PGA pro and owns an instruction and fitness business. Beckett recently won first place at his county science fair.

Original plan for Sunday: Attend the tournament

Unforgettable moment: "Beckett's here to see Tiger and Rory (McIlory) and all those, and now all of the sudden, Luke List throws him a golf ball, and now Luke List has a fan," Sage said. "Just little gestures like that that these players can make to not only grow the game but to improve their perception among their fans, it's amazing."

“It has been awesome,” Robinson said of her tournament experience. “The momentum from the people, the crowd — it’s just been an epic moment.” [THOMAS BASSINGER | Times]

EHBONI ROBINSON, 41, of St. Petersburg

Job: Federal government employee

Original plan for Sunday: Attending the tournament

Unforgettable moment: "The fact that Tiger's ball landed feet away from me (on No. 10). I've been standing there (along the fairway) hoping that's where it would land. That he was feet away from me, I will remember that moment forever. He was within eye shot. I didn't have to turn. He was directly in front of me. That was amazing. I will remember that red shirt forever."

“The guy’s a legend,” said Farner, who bumped fists with Woods before he teed off Sunday. [Courtesy of Grant Hocking]

GRANT HOCKING, 34, of Tampa, and DAVID FARNER, 35, of Wesley Chapel

Job: Employees at auto dealership

Original plan for Sunday: Hocking was going to attend tournament; Farner would have been playing golf.

Unforgettable moment: Hocking, Farner and their friends greeted Tiger Woods on the 13th green with their bright orange shirts that spelled "T-I-G-E-R" on the front and "W-O-O-D-S" on the back. "When Tiger announced he was going to play, we knew that if he made the cut, we wanted to do something special," Hocking said.
Hours earlier, the group saw Woods up close at the practice tees. "Seeing him that close, getting to fist bump Tiger, that's a cool thing. Tiger. Me. Fists," Farner said.

“Today was more about women supporting Tiger because I think the world needs to forgive Tiger for what he did and focus more on what he has accomplished in life and what he is truly gifted at and what he brings to golf,” Fisher said. [THOMAS BASSINGER | Times]

KIMMY FISHER, 38, of Tampa

Job: Amazon consultant

Original plan for Sunday: "I'd probably be at the Strawberry Festival or I would be at the St. Pete Grand Prix, but honestly, all of our friends are out here. Everyone wants to support Tiger. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience. What if Tiger's never back here? Or we might be swimming in our pool."

Unforgettable moment: "Today we followed him around, and we were cheering at him that 'Ladies love Tiger' because I think it's important that as women he understands we've forgiven him for all the things that he's done and we appreciate what he brings to golf. There hasn't been this crowd … at Valspar ever. We wanted to let him know that the ladies loved him and we were supporting him because I think that's important for what he's been through. We have a video of us screaming, 'Tiger, we love you! Ladies love you!' And he walks by and he says, 'Thanks, guys.' It was awesome. And eye contact. He looked at us, and you could just tell that he needed that."

Contact Thomas Bassinger  at [email protected] Follow @tometrics.

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