TwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle+

A new country, big excitement in Mexico over Tiger Woods

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Two small openings on both sides of a tree-covered path were packed with fans young and old, some with caps they wanted signed, others holding phones to capture the moment. They were screaming one word that translates in any language at the Mexico Championship.

“Tiger!”

Tiger Woods eventually walked by on his way to the range at Chapultepec Golf Club, and the volume got louder.

He is used to receptions like this wherever he goes, particularly since he made a full return to golf last year and ended the season with his 80th career victory. Take him somewhere new, such as Bellerive for the PGA Championship or Innisbrook for the Valspar Championship, and it can feel like a rock concert.

This World Golf Championship brings another element. This is his first competition in Mexico.

“I’m sure the energy will be up, people will be excited,” Woods said Wednesday. “I think yesterday was a closed day, but there was a lot of people out there, a lot of members and a lot of kids that somehow didn’t go to school. I’m sure it will be like that the rest of the week, and it will be a lot of fun for all of us.”

It certainly will be an experience for Abraham Ancer, who will play with Woods and Bryson DeChambeau the opening two rounds.

The Mexican player with the best world ranking gets into the 72-man field. Ancer, who grew up just south of the Texas border in Reynosa, played last year at No. 260 in the world. Now he is at No. 61, knowing he has an outside shot at cracking the top 50 in the world to earn a spot in the Masters.

He said he idolized Woods and playing with him “will be something unforgettable.”

If he stands too close to DeChambeau, that might be unforgettable, too. Mexico City is at roughly 7,800 feet altitude, though that depends on the definition of altitude, for DeChambeau mentioned 9,000 feet.

So is 7,800 feet incorrect?

“Maybe,” DeChambeau said with a grin. “It’s more than just altitude. You could have an air pressure system that is like sea level coming through here and effectively change it. That’s what I mean by that.”

He also mentioned the slower decay of spin rate with no air resistance, but suffice to say the ball goes father this week for everyone.

Ian Poulter was preparing to hit driver on the 316-yard opening hole Wednesday when Dustin Johnson interrupted him.

“Isn’t that going to fly over the green?” Johnson said.

Poulter looked up and replied, “I don’t carry the ball 370 yards in the air.”

Johnson played the front nine with Woods, and they were joined by defending champion Phil Mickelson and Jon Rahm. It was the final day of practice, and yet the right side of the fairway looked like Sunday at Chapultepec last year. That’s the Tiger effect.

Mexico is the 21st country where Woods has competed, so he is used to the reaction from those seeing him for the first time.

Golf is still in its relative infancy in Mexico, though the appeal changes when one of the most recognizable athletes in the world is in town. Security has increased this year, most of that because of Woods.

Grupo Salinas took over sponsorship of this WGC in the summer of 2016, when Woods was recovering from two back surgeries. There was no guarantee if his game would get back, so news of his decision to play last week was massive for small sector of golf fans in Mexico.

“Tiger definitely moves the needle,” said Benjamin Salinas, the CEO of TV Azteca and lead voice for Grupo Salinas at the Mexico Championship. “When he announced he was coming, ticket sales leaped tenfold. He moves Mexico.”

Salinas announced two more chapters of The First Tee in Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, bringing the total to five chapters with the goal of one in every state. He said 100 boys and girls are involved, so it’s a slow start. Next on his list of priorities is building public facilities, which at some point would require government help in a country that worships soccer, baseball and the NFL.

But they all know Tiger.

“This event goes a long way to showcasing what the possibilities are,” Woods said. “After that, it’s trying to get access, trying to get the kids. We can get them excited about the game, but it becomes problematic when the excitement doesn’t really turn into participation.”

Excitement doesn’t appear to be an issue.

Woods hasn’t play in altitude in 20 years, at Castle Pines outside Denver, so there are adjustments to make for the air and a new golf course to learn. Woods has a history of winning on courses familiar to him — 42 of his 80 victories on the PGA Tour have come on seven courses.

But this World Golf Championship illustrates anew that at his best, Woods can win anywhere. He has won this event seven times on six courses — Valderrama in Spain (1999), Mount Juliet in Ireland, (2002), Capital City Club outside Atlanta (2003), Harding Park in San Francisco (2005), The Grove outside London (2006) and twice at Doral near Miami (2007, 2013).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

VIDEO NEWS

National Politics

Is America ready for gay president? Iowa casts first votes

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The question posed to Pete Buttigieg — gay, married and…

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg heads to Washington

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be in Washington Thursday to meet…

Court calls US “enhanced interrogation techniques” torture

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal court in San Francisco took the unusual step of…

Trump dismisses whistleblower complaint as ‘hack job’

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump irritably defended himself Friday against an intelligence whistleblower’s potentially…

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

Orange County’s “Don’t Pitch It-Fix It!” Event Urges Residents to Salvage Stuff

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Orange County's Environmental Protection Division is celebrating National Pollution Prevention…

Pulse Survivor Brandon Wolf, FL Leaders Slam Trump’s Broken Promises On Gun Violence

ORLANDO, F.L. — On a press call Thursday afternoon, the Florida Democratic Party and the…

Governor Ron DeSantis Meets with Financial Industry Leaders in Chicago

Chicago, IL. – This week, Governor Ron DeSantis met with Chicago leaders in the financial…

Orlando Mayor Dyer, Commissioner Ortiz Launch Hispanic Heritage Month at City Hall

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - To celebrate the commencement of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September…

FNN POLITICS & POWER SERIES

FNN SPORTS

  • Oct 10, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) scrambles while Carolina Panthers defensive end Mario Addison (97) pursues in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. File photo: Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports.
    CHARLOTTE (FNN SPORTS) – NFL Week 2 Recap: Buccaneers Resurgent Against Panthers on the Road (File photo: Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports)

MORE SPORTS NEWS

Panthers QB Newton ruled out for Sunday’s game vs Arizona

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Panthers will be counting on second-year quarterback Kyle Allen to…

NHL: Penalties Kill Tampa Bay Lightning in 3-0 Shutout Loss to Carolina Hurricanes

TAMPA BAY, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) - Although our Florida National News fans voted in the…

NHL Preseason Prediction: Lightning vs. Hurricanes

TAMPA BAY, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) - Hockey is back, which means fall is in full…

NFL Week 2 Recap: History Repeats Itself in Browns Win Against Jets

NEW YORK, N.Y. (FNN SPORTS) - Monday night's bittersweet Cleveland Browns 23-3 win against the…

Walt Disney World Resort Sponsors the UCF Knights

ORLANDO, Fla. –  With a new sponsorship agreement, Walt Disney World Resort hopes to spread some…

NFL Week 2 Recap: Buccaneers Resurgent Against Panthers on the Road

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FNN SPORTS) - The Buccaneers knew Thursday night’s game against the Carolina Panthers…

BUSINESS NEWS

MORE BUSINESS NEWS

Mass Shootings Give Rise to Bullet-Resistant Backpacks

NEW YORK (AP) — Companies like Guard Dog Security, TuffyPacks and Bullet Blocker are peddling…

Universal Orlando Resort Reveals Passholder Appreciation Days Perks

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Source: Universal // Universal Orlando Resort revealed that for the…

Orlando Continues to Support Small Businesses

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Small businesses play such an important role in the economies…

S&P 500 posts its worst week of 2019 as trade tensions flare

Investors rattled by President Donald Trump’s latest escalation in his trade war with China drove…

ID theft stings, but it’s hard to pin on specific data hacks

NEW YORK (AP) — Equifax 2017. Marriott 2018. Capital One 2019. Data breaches through hacking attacks…

Apple Announces New Batch of Emojis on World Emoji Day

Cupertino, CA (FNN NEWS) — July 17th is National Emoji Day! What better way to celebrate…

ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

MORE ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

Judge won’t return R. Kelly bond money to woman who paid it

CHICAGO (AP) — A judge in R. Kelly’s Illinois sexual assault case has refused to…

Halloween in Orlando Starts in September

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - It may only be September, but Halloween is already in…

“Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle” Now Open at Universal Orlando Resort

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – Source: Universal Orlando Resort // The darker side of the…

Jordan, Foxx debut injustice drama ‘Just Mercy’ at film fest

TORONTO (AP) — The starry based-on-a-true-story social-justice tale “Just Mercy” made a powerful impression in…

Ariana Grande Accused of Stealing a Drag Queen’s Likeness After Suing Forever 21 for Trademark Infringement

Arianna Grande recently sued fashion retailer Forever 21 for $10 million claiming the brand launched…

Ariana Grande Sues Forever 21 for $10 Million Over Trademark Infringement

TMZ reports that Pop singer Ariana Grande has filed a lawsuit against Forever 21 over…

LIFESTYLE: TRAVEL, TOURISM, THEME PARKS

MORE LIFESTYLE NEWS

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Orange County’s “Don’t Pitch It-Fix It!” Event Urges Residents to Salvage Stuff

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Orange County's Environmental Protection Division is celebrating National Pollution Prevention…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Halloween in Orlando Starts in September

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - It may only be September, but Halloween is already in…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

“Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle” Now Open at Universal Orlando Resort

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – Source: Universal Orlando Resort // The darker side of the…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Universal Orlando Resort Rolls Out New Year’s Eve Celebrations Across the Entire Destination

ORLANDO, Fla. – At Universal Orlando Resort, New Year’s Eve isn’t just another holiday – it’s…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Orlando Mayor Dyer, Commissioner Ortiz Launch Hispanic Heritage Month at City Hall

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - To celebrate the commencement of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September…

An error occured during creating the thumbnail.

Disney: Arnold Palmer’s 90th Birthday

Walt Disney World Resort joined other golf courses and the Arnold & Winnie Palmer Foundation…