It was an innocent moment without any cameras. It was a moment one won't remember and a moment the other was too young to understand.
One weekday afternoon more than 20 years ago, Tiger Woods was shopping at a grocery store down the road from his Isleworth home. I have no idea what was on the shopping list of the 20-something golfer that had already established himself on the game's best player with so many more major titles to come. I do know my wife had a list of things to get and had my youngest daughter tagging along.
As she strolled with a shopping cart, she glanced up from her list and spotted Tiger Woods. With a double-take to make sure it was him, she inched the cart closer at one of the aisles Woods was standing. It was him.
We had briefly met Woods a couple years earlier when Mark O'Meara told us that kid sitting in the corner of the dining room at Isleworth Country Club is going to be the greatest the game will ever see. Woods, with a Stanford cap on, has just finished a day on the course and was devouring a cheeseburger and fries by himself. (Quick note: I was a guest at the club. Do you really think that club would have me as a member. I work in sports media. I don't own sports media companies.)
Back to the shopping story, where my wife has to make a quick decision. Do you let Woods be and not pester him asking for an autograph. It was so long ago, there were no cameras on cell phones.
She had an idea. Yes, it would involve using my daughter to pull it off. She quickly raced to the cereal aisle. And, of course, there was the Wheaties box with Woods on the box. She grabbed that then headed to the aisle where stationery items are and found the Sharpie.
Ok, she had the Wheaties box and had the Sharpie, but was my wife going to walk up to Tiger Woods and ask for an autograph? Sure, she could but she had another plan.
As Woods was looking for a specific item on one aisle, my wife instructed my daughter to walk down the aisle and hold out the box and Sharpie. Woods wouldn't turn down an adorable little girl with arms out trying to hold the cereal box and marker, would he?
No, he would not. Tiger looked down and saw an innocent little girl who he knew likely had no idea who he was. He glanced up the aisle and saw my wife and put two and two together. Woods smiled and then knelt down to speak softly to my daughter. He asked her name and if she wanted him to sign the Wheaties box. My daughter just stood there.
Tiger took the Sharpie and gently grabbed the box and signed.
Before he handed the items back to my daughter, she just put her arms out. Little kids love hugs. Woods put his arms out and hugged here and thanked her.
My daughter then took the Wheaties box and raced back to mom. Woods knew what mom did and smiled and waved almost saying without saying he was impressed with her game plan.
Woods headed out and my wife finished shopping.
When I got home, later that day, the cereal box was on the dining room table. You can only imagine my reaction and my wonder as to how this got here in my house.
Years later, the Wheaties box is doing well. A few houses later, it remains on a shelf and the story of how it came to be lives on.
Get well Tiger...
Final thought: Tiger's first round in the 80's came when he was 8. His first round in the 70's came at 12.
Photo Credit: Getty Images