PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Golf scandalist and superstar Tiger Woods brought new and old golf fans together Tuesday, the first practice round of the Valspar Championship.
Woods announced his attendance via Twitter on March 2 “after a good recovery week” he said, to join superstars Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course.
Many fans were lined up for autographs at the walk-on at the first tee, including newbie John Nur and golf veteran Gary Gordon.
“We are waiting on the big fish though. Tiger. That’s the main one we are hoping for,” said 30-year-old Nur.
Tiger, the No. 369-ranked golfer in the world, is still No. 1 with thousands of fans. Innisbrook has added 10,000 more parking spaces and 6,000 more portable toilets to accommodate the expected crowd.
Gordon was a man of few words with one thing on the brain, “Tiger Woods.” He had been waiting patiently in the autograph area for almost three hours, since 9 a.m.
Plenty of Canadian baseball fans in Florida for spring training have made their second trip down to see the Valspar Championship, including Steve and Dara Sabadin.
“Steve is a big Tiger Woods fan so we were excited when we heard he was going to be playing this week,” Dara said.
Many spectators were seen wearing Tiger Woods swag. Sally Clarke Fox, a Nike Golf representative for Southwest Florida, has seen a big uptick in Tiger merchandise.
“We prepared for the tournament and then found out he was coming and ordered in a lot more merchandise,” she said. “It has been selling really well. Tiger really moves the needle whether he is playing well or not.”