Tiger Woods back to lead all-Black field at career-reviving PGA Tour event

First tournament of the year will see an all-Black field, with players hoping to play alongside the greatest of them all

Tiger Woods was seven years old when his father, Earl, took him to the first golf tournament played by an African American. At the first annual Bay Area Golf Championship, held at Couva Golf and Country Club in Florida in 1977, Earl ensured that his two sons Tiger and Earl Junior made the most of the family holiday as they watched their dad, who won the event the year before, defend his title.

Tiger Woods confirms return to the game for the Open and Ryder Cup Read more

That event made headlines around the country. In winning, the 19-year-old Tiger became the first black professional to win a tournament sanctioned by the Masters Tournament and came close to winning the US Amateur after moving a shot clear of his peers with one hole to play. But he fell away, and though his first major title – the US Open at Pebble Beach in 2000 – came a year later, he struggled for the next decade and has not won another.

Earl Junior, meanwhile, had won six times on the PGA Tour before his father, who would also go on to star in golf movies Cool Runnings and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, stepped in to change the history of golf – and introduce Tiger to his father-like techniques.

The 28-year-old is currently attending Louisiana State University, where he is learning the game under the tutelage of Davis Love III. The two men have been part of a four-man team to compete at this week’s PGA Tour CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta, California, where Woods is set to compete alongside former Open champion Paul Lawrie, and amateur duo Cole Vanderwoude and Jason Dufner.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” Woods said in a video released by the tour. “It’s so cool for me to have a chance to play alongside some of my heroes and competitors.”

It is the first time an all-Black field has played the tournament – former major winners Monty Williams, Bubba Watson and Gary Woodland, as well as Phil Mickelson, have all been among the top players.

Mickelson is in the field hoping to make the cut for the opening 36 holes. Woods will go into the second round as co-leader with Welch after opening with rounds of 65 and 67, a 6-under-par total. The tournament is the second event of the PGA Tour’s wraparound season, which runs from mid-November to the end of January.

“I wouldn’t have missed this tournament with that group out there,” Woods said. “They’re going to help me get better. It is great to have those guys around, playing with us and now they’re going to get better.”

Woods, who is seeking his first title since 2013, has won the CareerBuilder event five times. Love played college golf at Stanford and made his first PGA Tour cut in 1975. He won at La Quinta in 1993 and at La Quinta again in 1994.

Leave a Comment