Being a black journalist as well as a former professional baseball player, covering golf is a very unique experience. Let’s face it, there is basically only one black golfer and it’s weird covering the PGA TOUR when Tiger Woods, arguably the greatest golfer of all time, is not playing. Woods won his 80th PGA TOUR title Sunday, a day that will go down in golf and American history.
Not only has Woods dealt with racism he’s also dealt with distracting fans, announcers attempting to jinx him and has received numerous death threats. According to the dailymail.co.uk, security had to be doubled at a tournament in New Zealand after Woods received a cyanide death threat in 2002.
As a black person, we are constantly faced with racism, but we just go about our day as our skin grows thicker with each and every incident. I love my career, business and life, but discrimination cuts me deeply.
As a celebrity who has multi-million dollar endorsements and is the most high-profile golfer in the world, every word that comes out of Wood’s mouth is calculated. We will never truly know all that Woods has gone through and how hard it was for him to do what he did on Sunday.
NBA Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley were all over Woods when he came on the scene in the late ‘90’s, but when the media attacked Woods, where were these guys?
In 2015, Barkley, who was once close friends with Woods, stated that he hadn’t spoken to Woods since the accident in 2011.
I owned a condo in Orlando, FL during 2011 when the initial “Tiger” incident happened and it was rumored that professional sports players hated Woods because he was sloppy with his personal affairs.
Today I will speak on behalf of Black Americans. The internal fortitude, self belief and against-all-odds attitude that Woods put on display Sunday is not only admirable, but inspirational. Woods has increased golf ratings, generated multi-million dollar sponsorship and the Tiger Woods Foundation has served more than 175,000 students, as well as employing 1,000 educators each year for the past 20 years.
Today, I stand not only inspired by Woods, but also proud, encouraged, strong and happy to see the fake news media forced to support Woods and excited to follow him as he breaks every golf record imaginable.
I share a special bond with Woods. We are the same age, my first national commercial was filmed with him and I would also occasionally run into Woods in the VIP area of the Blue Martini in Orlando.
The first time I saw Woods golf live was when during a PGA Tour tournament in Arizona in 2000 where he autographed my rookie professional baseball hat. I was on the final green with Woods in 2012, covering the tournament as he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, FL. I cannot put into words the feeling of walking arms distance from Woods as he walked down the fairway and being one of only a few people allowed inside the ropes to cover Woods.
During a press conference in 2014, I asked Woods what the one highlight of his career was and he replied, “I think I have to go back to ’97, my first Masters Win, it was my first major as a professional.”
When discussing Woods’ back pain in 2015, ESPN journalists Stephen A. Smith and Jemele Hill said that Woods’ best move would be to “walk away” from golf and retire, with Smith saying Woods’ time had “come and gone.”
In a July 2018 interview with Cigar Aficionado, Jordan, who was at one point very close to Woods, said the 42-year-old golfer was in a transitional period and “that we as adults have to make sound decisions.”
Jordan said it is hard to declare Woods over Jack Nicklaus as the greatest of all time, as the eras differ. Jordan went on to discuss how Woods grew the game from a financial standpoint.
“Tiger evolved [golf] to where it crossed a lot of different boundaries where it’s not just a white guy’s sport,” Jordan said.
The first time I met Woods, we were in Isleworth golf course in Windermere, FL shooting a national commercial for American Express. I was in the gallery standing an arms length away from him as my fellow thespians and I admired the speakers on Woods’ golf cart playing Hootie & the Blowfish.
Before I knew it, Woods walked up to me, handed me his golf club and asked me, “Hey, wanna be me for a day” as we traded places and Woods humbly stood in the gallery.
Today, I continue to stand with Woods. I thank him and congratulate him. Woods has inspired many kids and adults to take up the game of golf. He is the greatest of all time in my book and I hope to be on the green with him again the next time he wins.