The gallery at the Farmers Insurance Open was calling out to Tiger Woods, “Do it for Mamba.” He had no idea what that meant; he’d teed off at 9:45 a.m. local time, before news had broken that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others had died in a helicopter crash.
Woods was focused on getting around Torrey Pines — he entered the day just a few strokes off the lead — and didn’t get the news of Bryant’s death until caddie Joe LaCava appeared to break it to him as they left the 18th green and approached the scorers’ tent.
“Excuse me?” Woods could be heard saying.
Here is caddie Joe LaCava breaking the news about Kobe. Tiger responds: "Excuse me?" pic.twitter.com/XtqUq5YNr5
— Josh Berhow (@Josh_Berhow) January 26, 2020
Shortly afterward, Woods spoke briefly about Bryant’s passing, obviously struggling to come to terms with the shocking news.
Tiger Woods reflects on the tragic passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant. pic.twitter.com/t4F2Sqj57Z
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 26, 2020
“It’s a shocker to everyone,” Woods said. “Unbelievably sad and one of the more tragic days — well, for me, reality is just setting in because I was just told probably about five minutes ago.”
Woods and Bryant shared an indomitable will, a strength of mind that led both back to the tops of their professions after devastating injury. “He burned so competitively hot, and the desire to win, he brought it each and every night on both ends of the floor.”
Woods was a regular presence on the sideline at Lakers games. He and Bryant were almost the same age, and both will stand as two of the greatest American athletes of their time.
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