Even after all this time, Tiger's vibe draws patrons
Tiger Woods slid an 18-foot birdie putt past the hole on No. 4 on Saturday.
A loud groan from the patrons echoed through the air. At the time of the miss standing a hundred yards away near the No. 5 tee box was Bill Jenkins, wearing a well-worn black hat with the TW logo stitched in.
“You know who that was without even seeing it,” said the 41-year-old Jenkins, from Jacksonville, Fla.
Of course, it was Tiger Woods. Winner of 14 majors, including four Masters Tournaments, the 43-year-old Woods is a golfing legend looking to win his first Masters since 2005.
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Yet the “Tiger Vibe” bouncing around the Augusta National course the past two days remains like no other.
The crowds stood six and seven deep around the tees and greens on Saturday, many standing on their tip-toes to get a peek when Woods hits any shot.
The classic “Tiger Roar” started Saturday after a birdie putt at No. 6, then reached full volume at No. 7, where his second shot from 147 yards landed a foot away for an easy birdie.
Jason Cochcroft wasn’t wearing a TW hat standing near that green, but his 7-year-old son, Levi, was perched on his shoulders and pumped both hands in the air and screamed.
“This is his first Masters,” said Cochcroft, 41, from Irmo, S.C. “I didn’t tell him until this morning. If I told him last night he wouldn’t sleep. He’s a big Tiger fan.”
Cochcroft said Woods is so popular because “people just like to see a player compete. He electrifies the crowd. He’s made every big putt he’s had in his life it seems.”
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On every hole Woods played, there were patrons wearing TW caps. Woods’ crowd was made up of all ages and races, men, women and children. There were at least three devoted fans waddling along wearing those protective boots after you have foot surgery or sprain an ankle.
There was Eddie and Margaret Wells, each in their 70s, slowly walking hand-in-hand on No. 5 “because we had to see Tiger,” Eddie Wells said.
Debbie Walker stood halfway up the fairway on No. 3 wearing a bright white TW hat.
“Yes, I’m a big fan of Tiger,” said the 58-year-old Walker, who barrel races and lives in Florida. “I went to six tournaments last year to follow him. I became a fan after his comeback. I’m amazed at the crowds he draws. To me it’s his athleticism and competitiveness of Tiger I love to see.”
Walker was in an Augusta bar Friday watching Woods shoot his 68 on TV, “and that place was going crazy for Tiger.”
Friends Blake Vanderwiel of San Diego and Jim Mount of Fort Collins, Colo., attended their first Masters on Saturday.
Vanderwiel, 30, wore a light tan TW hat.
“I grew up watching every single tournament of Tiger since I was five,” said Vanderwiel. “So pretty much he’s been my favorite athlete of all-time. The reason Tiger is so popular is the way he carries an aura about him. Even standing between holes when he walks by it likes you can feel his energy. You want to be near him for no reason.
“This is the first time Jim’s seen Tiger and he felt it right away.”