Home Featured News Playing with Tiger still a thrill and a round filled with nerves

Playing with Tiger still a thrill and a round filled with nerves

by TG_Admin01

Tiger and Chris PaulBy BRAD KING

So what was it like, exactly, for the other players who found themselves caught up in the Tiger Tsunami during last month’s Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club?

Let’s just say the experience was not for the faint of heart.

“Your lower extremities tightened a little bit,” said eventual runner-up Jason Gore. “To be honest with you, man, I was nervous. I was coughing fur balls and pooping pellets. It was fun.”

Despite his graphic description, Gore was never even paired with his old childhood and college golfing buddy, Tiger Woods. He played a group behind the madness on Sunday.

That distinction — after the heat of the international spotlight had been turned up during the Wyndham weekend — fell to a pair of no-names: Tom Hoge and Scott Brown.

In Saturday’s third round, Tiger was paired with Hoge, a PGA Tour rookie and Statesville native, who shared the second-round lead with Woods at 11-under 129.

Putting the enormity of the differential in perspective, Woods has recorded 79 PGA Tour wins during his illustrious career including 14 major championships. Entering Saturday’s round, meanwhile, the 26-year-old Hoge had a grand total of 79 PGA Tour rounds under his belt.

Despite Hoge’s three top-16 finishes in his last four PGA Tour starts, he was not on Woods’ radar at all prior to their round together.

Asked Friday if he would recognize Hoge (pronounced “Hoagie”): “No, I wouldn’t,” Tiger said, “What is it, or him? I don’t know,” to laughter from the assembled media. “I’ve never met him, never seen him … don’t know anything about him.”

“There are so many guys out here I don’t know,” Tiger said. “I’ve been hurt, I haven’t played that much and then you play a smaller event, a lot of guys from Q-School or Web.com are in the events. You go up and down the range they’re all early 20s and you just — it’s just funny because I look on the Champions Tour leaderboard and I know everyone of those guys because I played against them and I played with them. Now I come out here, I don’t really know a lot of people.”

Hoge began Saturday’s third round in an inauspicious manner, whiffing his birdie at the first from less than 5 feet after Woods had converted his from mid-range. Hoge back-pedaled to a 2-over-par 72 and eventually finished the tournament tied for 38th.

Despite the tough afternoon, Hoge said he had a memorable time playing with Tiger.

“It was a blast,” Hoge said. “Obviously a lot different than any other (pairing) I’ve played in. It was fun to be there with Tiger, a guy I looked up to growing up.

“It was crazy but it was great,” added Hoge. “Everybody was out there so supportive. The fans were awesome. Just gives me that drive to work harder and be back here and hopefully being in this position again.”

As for Brown — a 32-year-old South Carolina native who regained his PGA Tour card through 2015 with a win at the 2013 Puerto Rico Open — he had quite a bit more luck during Sunday’s final-round twosome, in which he was paired with Tiger one group in front of the leaders.

After parring the first two holes on Sunday, Brown aced the par-3 third. His 8-iron from 162 yards took a couple of hops before rolling into the cup for his second career hole-in-one — earning Brown a Tiger roar from the crowd and a high-five from El Tigre himself, who went on to make a two-putt par.

The ace moved Brown to 15-under and into a tie for the lead. It was also the first “1” Tiger has ever written on an opponent’s scorecard in competition.

“Tiger’s been begging me for his drink,” said Brown after the round.

Brown then birdied No. 8 and made the turn at 16-under. As for his more-famous playing partner, Tiger plunked a fan with his drive at No. 5 and scattered the gallery again with a pulled tee shot on the par-3 seventh.

And while Brown was making birdie on the par-4 11th, Tiger took himself out of contention with a bladed wedge followed by a chunk and a triple-bogey 7. On No. 15, Brown pulled within one stroke of eventual winner Davis Love III with another birdie, but after hitting his approach on the 18th to about 60 feet, Brown left his putt about 10 feet short and three-putted for a fatal bogey.

“It was awesome, playing with Tiger, my first time,” Brown said. “He was great. I was nervous — I was just trying to hide it really good. I was feeling it. But once I got into it I felt pretty good.”

With his T-3 at the Wyndham, Brown vaulted 28 spots in the FedExCup playoffs standings. He said he thought his Sunday experience with Tiger would serve him well moving forward.

“Obviously this was a stepping-stone in the right direction. Hopefully I can get it going in the playoffs and make a Billy Horschel move,” Brown said. “It was obviously electric, the atmosphere being with Tiger, the whole crowd he draws here is so awesome and so good of him to play here. It does so much for this community.”

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