Decked out in his patented red shirt, black slacks and black cap, Tiger Woods on Thursday treated a half-dozen South Korean junior golfers to the lesson of their lifetime.
Making his first trip to South Korea since 2004, Woods offered tips on hitting drivers, long irons and wedges, and then on putting for the six young golfers at Jade Palace Golf Club here, about 85 kilometers east of Seoul. The former world No. 1 player said he enjoyed being around the youngsters, who were invited by Nike Golf Korea, Tiger’s corporate sponsor and the organizer of the clinic.
“I had a great time today with kids,” he said. “It was fun giving golf lessons like that.”
Later in the day, Woods was scheduled to give similar lessons to 100 amateur golfers selected online. In addition, 500 winners from a separate off-line draw were to watch Woods’ afternoon lesson from the stands.
Woods had earlier stopped in Shenzhen and Beijing in China as part of his “Make It Matter” trip through Asia. Last weekend, Woods tied for fourth at the Masters, the first major championship of the season, thanks to a 5-under 67 in the final round that included four birdies and an eagle.
Former No. 1 golfer Tiger Woods takes a shot during a clinic for junior golfers at Jade Palace Golf Club in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, Thursday. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
Woods, who normally has an aura of aloof detachment, was gregarious and playful around the young golfers. Wearing a wireless microphone, he didn’t shy from offering words of encouragement and high-fived young athletes after their sessions were done.
When Lee Hyun-woo, a high school freshman, stepped up and drove the ball nearly 300 yards with his first shot, Woods smiled in amazement and said the 17-year-old didn’t need his tips. During short-game lessons from 100 yards out and then on the green, Woods got more hands-on with the golfers, helping them change their grips, swing planes and their impact.
Tiger urged young golfers to “spend more time around greens, chipping and putting.” He said even the world’s top golfers can’t always hit good approach shots to greens, and when they’re struggling with drivers or irons, they can always fall back on wedges and putters to stay competitive.
Woods also displayed his arsenal of shots before the audience and media, hitting high fades, low draws and so-called “stingers,” a type of low-flying shot with a long iron off the tee that Woods often hits to keep the ball in the fairway.
But asked about the toughest shot in the bag, Woods quipped, “hitting it straight.”