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Golf News

Golf-The fast track to success for Woods as a PGA Tour host

LOS ANGELES, July 1 (Reuters) - Tiger Woods has made a habit of achieving the remarkable as a player but even he was amazed when his first tournament as a host on the PGA Tour was accomplished so quickly.

The AT&T National, being played this week for the second time in Bethesda, Maryland, was put together in less than four months after the green light was given for its first edition last year.

“What we did in such a short span of time was absolutely remarkable,” Woods told Reuters. “It’s hard to believe that, with the help of the membership, the PGA Tour, AT&T and all of our staff, we put this tournament together so quickly.”

The slot on the calendar became available when the International, held outside Denver, came to a premature halt after its 2006 edition due to the absence of Woods from the field and a lack of sponsor.

The world number one and his Tiger Woods Foundation sprang into action, paving the way for a $6 million tournament which was staged last July at the prestigious Congressional Country Club.

Woods had long dreamed of hosting his first Tour event and, in tribute to his late father Earl, the AT&T National recognises and honours the men and women serving in the U.S. armed forces.

“It was a no-brainer for us to be able to say yes, with my father’s history in the military and the Special Forces, to come here during the nation’s birthday,” said Woods, whose father died from cancer in May 2006.

“Anyone on active duty gets free admission to our tournament and all kids under the age of 12 get in free as well. We wanted to make this a family-oriented affair.”

PERFECT TIMING

Tiger Woods Foundation president and AT&T National tournament director Greg McLaughlin believes the timing was perfect for Woods to host his first PGA Tour event.

“Tiger really wanted to do something similar to what Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus did,” McLaughlin told Reuters. “They started their tournaments when they were 35 and he started his when he was 31.

“So for him it was probably the right time and it certainly gave us the ability to broaden the platform of our Foundation on the East Coast which helped us tremendously.”

The Foundation, created by Woods and his father in 1996, established the first Tiger Woods Learning Center 10 years later in Anaheim, California where children can develop life skills.

Woods plans to open a second in the Washington D.C. area within the next five years with the AT&T National playing an important subsidiary role.

“I have been shocked at how positive its been,” Woods said. “How many kids have been involved, how many people have come to help us, not just corporately but individually. It’s grown in leaps and bounds.”

“But I keep reiterating that we are just getting started. Once our Learning Center opened and how well received that was and how much of an impact we had, you can just see what we can do in the future. Not just here in the U.S. but globally.”

The second AT&T National starts on Thursday when South Korean K.J. Choi launches his title defence. Woods will be a conspicuous absentee while he continues his recovery from reconstructive surgery on his left knee.

Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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