CLEVELAND—Wearing his signature red shirt, Tiger Woods crouched down and stared at the ball rolling on the green toward the hole. When it finally descended into the cup, Woods gave his famous fist pump, let out a guttural scream and went over to hug his caddy. He had finally done it. The former No. 1 golfer in the world had just won the Case Western Reserve University Spartan Open, a miniature golf contest. It is his first tournament win since August 2013.
When handed the trophy, Woods could be seen visibly crying. Four years without a trophy will make any man emotional, especially one who was once considered the best at his sport.
At his post-tournament press conference, Woods described the emotions he felt after sinking the final putt: “It was surreal. Just finally winning—getting back to the top of my game after all of my injuries—is the best moment of my career.”
Asked if this moment felt better than when he won the British Open just two months after the death of his father, he immediately responded, “Yes.”
In a tournament filled with CWRU undergraduate students, a school that doesn’t even have a varsity golf team, Woods won by just one stroke. He trailed going into the final two holes, but his opponents could not successfully navigate the holes. The penultimate hole was designed by the late Frank Gehry and modeled after the Peter B. Lewis Building. Woods showed his strength and needed only two putts to get the ball in the cup. His opponents were unfamiliar with the sloping designs and random floors, needing all six strokes to finish the hole.
The last hole, which many CWRU students believe is harder than passing organic chemistry, posed no challenge to the 41-year-old veteran. His first ball easily passed through the spiraling windmill, over the rotating bridge and onto the final green, just inches from the hole.
Woods easily sunk the ensuing putt, guaranteeing himself the title as CWRU’s best miniature golfer.
Second-year student Paul Colson, who finished second, was content with the much older Woods competing against college students.
“Honestly, it’s a little sad, him having to beat us just to raise his confidence level,” Colson said. “The purse is really sweet though.”
For winning, Woods received a $50 gift card to Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream, as well as a free personal training session at 1-2-1 Fitness. He seemed eager to check out the local establishments, mentioning that he never had eaten ice cream before.
Woods does not plan on defending his title next year. Instead he hopes to be competing at The Masters Tournament against professional golfers.