PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Echoes of Tiger Woods carried in the breeze as fans from all over the world gathered Tuesday on a picture-postcard day at the practice round of the 2018 Valspar Championship.
The former world No. 1 golfer was preparing to make his first appearance at the tournament which generated a buzz in the crowd.
Among those whispers was Phil Marcellus, a former golf-course marshal who worked alongside Woods for 13 years at the Western Open in Chicago, the oldest tournament on the PGA Tour.
“I first [worked] with him in 1995 at the big tournament, walked with him from 1995 until like 2008, 2009,” Marcellus said. “I walked with him the day he broke 70 the first time in his life on the PGA Tour in 1995. Sunday round – a very nice young kid.”
Marcellus has been to multiple Valspar Championships. When asked about the crowd that Tiger has drawn this year, the former golf course marshal did not hold back.
“There’s going to be a huge difference – probably the biggest [showing] I’ve seen [here]. The weather is beautiful today, Rory (McIlroy) is already off the course, (Jordan) Spieth’s out here, you’ve got some big names here, but Tiger has definitely taken it up a bit.”
As a matter of fact, when Tiger announced on Twitter, March 2, that he would be participating in the tournament, 10,000 additional tickets sold right away. In addition, they’ve added 10,000 more parking spaces and 6,000 more portable toilets since then.
But this is nothing out of the ordinary for Woods as Marcellus recalls Tiger during his prime.
“Back in Chicago, he’d tee off in his heyday in the late ‘90s early 2000s, there’d be 20,000 people lining up on the first fairway. There’d be 10-12 feet of people deep the whole way. It was insanity. It was a witness to history.”
And in terms of Tiger’s legacy nowadays, Marcellus has faith in the former world No. 1.
“There’s no question about it, the Tiger factor is still alive and well.”