I’m not sure why, but I seem to forget about keeping the Pebble Beach Stories series going until it gets close to the AT&T or any event at Pebble Beach. Anyways, Tiger never came to the AT&T Pro-Am during the three years I was working there for the event. He went the year before I started working at Pebble (2002), and I always hoped he’d change his mind so I could see the legend in the making play live, but it never happened. In honor of his first entry into the AT&T since 2002, I figured it was a good time to dust off the one and only Tiger story I have, but unlike Stevie Williams and Hank Haney, I’m not going to be making money on it.
From the first time I mentioned Tiger to co-workers they would all grumble something that ended with I hate that guy. They’d regroup and say he’s a ridiculously good golfer, but just not a good human being. After asking numerous people why he wasn’t a favorite like Phil, Davis Love III, Jonathan Byrd, or even Dustin Johnson, they all seemed to point to the fact that he was a bad tipper, or that he bitched about everything.
There was one time he did come to Pebble Beach while I was working there, and it was for an EA sports party when they were doing promo stuff for his video game, and from that point on in 2004, I didn’t like the guy much either. I tried to make some small talk with him asking him about his hotel stay and where he’d eaten in around town to maybe give him some recommendations or something like that. He flat out ignored me like I didn’t exist. Now, I could understand if he was doing something like talking on the phone or signing an autograph for someone, but he was just hanging out in front of the pro shop with nobody else but a group that just came of the 18th hanging around. I rattled off at least 30 seconds of chat, but was apparently talking to myself. Maybe it was the crappy weather that day or maybe he couldn’t stand getting a fat paycheck for putting his ugly mug on the cover of EA’s golf game, but he could at least acknowledge my existence with more than a head nod. I guess I wasn’t important enough for him to acknowledge my existence. I’m not one to get star struck especially after meeting lots of celebrities and athletes during my time there, but he might have been the rudest of all I met by simply ignoring me. My new theory on maybe why he ignored me in the post Tiger scandal is that maybe one of the girls he was a sugar daddy for extorted him for the money he just made on the EA game.
Whatever the case, I asked our head golf pro and the assistant golf pro what was up with Tiger, because he seemed so cold and was basically the opposite of Phil to the point that it seemed like it would physically hurt him if he smiled, and he wasn’t even there to play golf! They didn’t seem to know or really care that much, but what they did tell me was you’ll probably never see him at the AT&T Pro-Am, which makes it even more remarkable he’s playing this weekend at Pebble when it’s not for the US Open. Curious, I had to ask why.
Chuck (the head golf pro) gave me a couple of answers, both of which made some sense.
First he told me that Tiger doesn’t like the greens at Pebble or really any public course because they get too much play and thinks they’re too bumpy. I was taken back by this answer, because aside from the pace of play, I’d never heard anyone complain about the courses features at Pebble unless of course they plugged the greens, but there’s no chance Tiger ever played after they plugged the course, because they’d never want that shown on TV or have the pros complain.
The second thing he told me which made a lot more sense was he didn’t like playing with amateurs. They play slow, and usually shank more shots than hit good ones. Today they aired a little interview with Tiger on ESPN talking about his celebrity playing partner this weekend, Tony Romo. Tiger went on to say Tony had been texting him relentlessly asking about how low he needed to shoot, and what he could do to work on his swing that made me crack up just thinking of the way Tiger probably responded. I’m almost positive Romo recieved no advice, and was probably annoyed by the onslaught of texts from someone that wasn’t going to be a one night stand.
Maybe he’s a better man close to a decade removed from when I met him, but it’s still the main reason to this day that I don’t root for him to succeed.