Tiger never backed out of PGA Grand Slam on Kauai
WHEN 21-year-old Tiger Woods won the Masters in April 1997, he qualified for his first PGA Grand Slam of Golf to be played in November on Kauai.
The Garden Island was buzzing about his impending arrival, but not everyone thought he would actually show up.
The precedent had been set years earlier. Some of the bigger names in the sport decided they had better things to do than play in a silly-season event.
So, even though everyone kept talking about how the latest phenom in golf was coming, it was far from a done deal.
"I'll believe it when I see it," the few prickly unbelievers said.
Sure enough, he came right on schedule.
And, despite losing that first appearance to Ernie Els, Tiger went on quite a roll, winning the next seven times he stepped foot on Kauai.
That's quite a history for a tiny island and the scenic Poipu Bay Golf Course.
But it's all in the past, folks.
The event picked up and went its merry way, so now it's Bermudans, not Hawaii residents, who will be privy to the best foursome the PGA of America has to offer.
Last month, though, Tiger threw a wrench into things by opting out of the two-day event that began today, reportedly to spend more time with his growing family that now includes a daughter.
It's either a damn good reason or a ready-made excuse, but whatever the case, it makes Bermuda 0-for-1. Not a good start in its ability to attract the No. 1 golfer, who is perhaps the best to ever swing a club.
Kauai, on the other hand, is 8-for-8. Indeed, Tiger came each and every time he qualified, and those unbelievers back in 1997 became believers very fast.
In case you hadn't noticed, Tiger never let Kauai down.
And, if you use your powers of imagination, it's not too hard to picture Tiger returning to Poipu Bay -- had the tournament remained there -- this year; as was his custom for so long in that close-to Thanksgiving time slot; with his baby and his wife.
Believe it or not, Tiger felt the aloha all those years.
When he uttered the following statements in 2005 when rumors swirled that the event might move to Las Vegas or the Caribbean or another international location, he said them sincerely:
"I've always enjoyed playing Poipu. I always enjoyed coming here. I don't see any reason why they should move because it's such a wonderful place. Everyone always brings their families. They celebrate Thanksgiving here. Everyone loves coming to Hawaii. They love to hang out and enjoy the wonderful resort. The golf is always fun to play.
"We always seem to shoot low numbers on this golf course. I think it's exciting for the fans. I'd like to keep qualifying for the event. Hopefully, I can keep coming back here."
Somehow, the PGA of America didn't take the hint.
Hawaii residents watched Tiger shoot 61. They saw him win with an eagle-eagle finish. They even watched him throw up in the long grass behind the first green before shaking off the illness and winning yet again.
They saw too many magical moments to recount.
Maybe Bermuda will be as lucky, but it won't be this year.