Originally created 06/19/02

Teacher Tiger: Woods gives clinic to young golfers



LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Leave it to Tiger Woods to turn a Florida thunderstorm into a learning experience.

Woods and the inner-city youth attending his golf clinic at Disney World's Palm course were forced off the driving range by a driving tropical rain Tuesday. But Woods, two days removed from his waterlogged victory at the U.S. Open, had plenty of advice on how to play in such conditions.

"I don't do anything more than the golf course allows me," Woods told the 14 young players who wedged into a canvas tent during the downpour.

The students listened intently; they knew Woods put his knowledge to use last week in winning his eighth major and second this year to get halfway to golf's Grand Slam.

At the Bethpage Black course in Farmingdale, N.Y., Woods carded a 2-under 68 on Friday, despite a steady rain and chill. And in Sunday's final round, he kept his focus during a 49-minute rain delay en route to a three-stroke win.

"Sometimes in bad weather, you have to play aggressive," Woods told the class. "Sometimes, you play passive."

Learning the game - both physically and mentally - were more than 100 young golfers attending the Tiger Woods Foundation Junior Golf Clinic. They came from Buffalo, N.Y.; Fort Worth, Texas; Newark, N.J.; Orlando, Fla.; and Philadelphia.

It was Woods' 25th clinic, where junior golfers from around the nation gather to receive instruction from PGA Tour professionals. Some youth even get to learn a lesson or two from Woods.

"He told me to keep my body stable," 14-year-old Gerald Henderson Jr., of Philadelphia, recalled after having a few minutes' instruction from the world's best golfer. "Now I'm getting a little flatter ball flight, a little straighter."

Nine-year-old Jonathan Ortiz, also of Philadelphia, had a problem with hitting the ball off to the right, until Woods lent his expertise. Then Ortiz wanted to know what happened to Sergio Garcia - whose nickname of "El Nino" Ortiz had written on his shoes - at the Open.

Garcia, who had accused Woods of receiving breaks from the USGA during Friday's rain, shot a final-round 74 to finish fourth. "It just wasn't his day," Woods diplomatically replied.

Later in the day, Woods gave an exhibition to the junior golfers plus about 2,200 children from youth organizations around central Florida. The exhibition also was simulcast on the Internet.

The rain forced the cancellation of a scheduled parade for Woods and the junior golfers at Disney's MGM Studios. Instead, Woods made an appearance at "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire-Play It!," an interactive version of the television show.

How to fight a slice and compete in wet weather were only parts of Woods' lessons. He repeatedly emphasized that golfing well was secondary to living life in a responsible, productive manner.

"You don't exactly have to become the best player in the world in order to become successful in life," Woods said.

But Woods also made a point that playing golf is another way to learn "life lessons."

"When the kids get exposed to that, they become better citizens," Wood said. "Look at the golfers who play - they're not bad people, they're not the kind who go out and create trouble.

"That's a great indicator about how this great game can teach us some great lessons."