The day I met Tiger Woods
Growing up in Eastmoreland, my home address was 6305 S.E. 29th Avenue, which meant that naturally I became an elementary student at Duniway School. My education took me further, eventually--to Lincoln High and Stanford before I moved on to serve in World War II.
However, one of the highlights of my own life happened relatively recently: On August 17, 1998, when Tiger Woods came to Portland to hold a golf clinic for inner-city youth at the Heron Lakes Golf Course. At that time, in addition to these Moreland Memories in THE BEE, I was also doing some writing for the Multnomah Village Post, whose editor--my son Don--gave me a pass to a press conference by my hero Tiger, and his father, Earl Woods.
At that time, I already knew something about Tiger's background. He grew up in Cypress, California, near Los Angeles. When he was only two years old, his father started teaching him the game of golf. At age three, Tiger shot a 48 for nine holes, and by age five he had already been featured in 'Golf Digest' magazine.
Tiger won the annual Optimist International Junior Tournament at ages 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, and 15! While he was still 15 years of age, he won his first U.S. Junior Amateur title, an accomplishment he repeated at ages 16 and 17. He also won the U.S. Amateur title at ages 18, 19, and 20--this last one coming right here in the Portland area, at Pumpkin Ridge.
'I have been fortunate to be in this position so early in life,' said Tiger at the clinic. Surrounded by a group of young admirers, he mused, 'Actually, I'm not much older than these teenagers, yet they listen to me, and see me as a role model…'
In 1996, at age 20, after his win at Pumpkin Ridge, Tiger decided to turn professional. This decision came after his two years at Stanford, where he had accumulated ten collegiate wins, and had won the NCAA men's title.
The following year, in his first year as a pro, he won the Masters Tournament by a margin of 12 strokes and a record score of 270, which was 18 under par! The youngest Masters champion in history, Tiger was also the first PGA tournament winner of African or Asian heritage.
'I love to teach, and I want to give children back some of the encouragement, guidance, and inspiration I received as a child from many different people,' Tiger explained. 'We have a motto in our foundation: 'Give back love'! Another one is 'dream big'!'
One of my own strongest memories of that press conference was that some of the media people were not able get Tiger's comments on their tape recorders. After the 'technical difficulties' in the sound distribution system were repaired, one reporter asked Tiger, 'Could you repeat the answer you gave about integrity, responsibility, hard work, and so forth?'
With a big smile, Tiger replied, 'no!'
This drew a big laugh from the crowd of reporters. Then, Tiger went on to do a good job of repeating both the question which had elicited that response, and his answer to it.
Well, as I write down these Moreland Memories of my own, it is now 2006, and Tiger Woods, at age 30, has already won 51 PGA tour titles, including 12 majors. In a world filled with flawed role models and questionable heroes, we need more giants like Tiger Woods!
Elliott K. Snedecor, a lifelong resident of Eastmoreland and Westmoreland, brings us his 'Moreland Memories' each month from his beach retirement home in Newport. Nonetheless, he can still regularly be found walking the streets of his old neighborhood, reacquainting himself with the places and friends of his youth.
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Got 'Moreland Memories'? Know someone who does?
Elliott K. Snedecor has been offering 'Moreland Memories' of those who grew up and/or lived in the Westmoreland and Eastmoreland areas for over a decade in the pages of THE BEE. Many of these interviews were conducted as a result of suggestions from readers, and referrals from others he has interviewed.
Now, Elliott tells us, 'I am running short of people to interview about their Moreland Memories, so I am asking for suggestions and volunteers! I can conduct interviews by phone, by mail, or in person in Portland. You can reach me by phone at 1-541/574-8703.'
There are still plenty of people around with rich memories of experiences growing up in this area in the early and mid 20th Century, and many more who have lived long in these neighborhoods and have yet to share their memories of it. Here's your chance to share them with the readers of THE BEE. Give Elliott a call today.