Tiger Woods has made a point of honoring both active duty and reserve military by offering them free tickets to the AT&T National tournament. His father, the late Earl Woods, served in the Special Forces in Vietnam and Tiger says the country owes a great debt to its military, especially those wounded in combat.
"You know, it hits home when you see one of them come out and to see what they are dealing with on a daily basis, and what they have to go through because they are putting their lives on the line for us, and unfortunately have had something happen," Woods said.
Under bright sunshine and brilliant blue skies Tiger Woods made a special point of honoring two so-called "Wounded Warriors", men who have been injured in combat.
During a ceremony before the tournament began, Woods told fans the nation should thank those who serve in the military.
Singer and actress Jessica Simpson, who has visited several overseas military posts to entertain for the USO, sang the national anthem and the U.S. Army's "Screaming Eagles" Parachute Demonstration team delivered the national flag and the balls for a ceremonial tee off to open the tournament.
Woods, U.S. Army Major Ken Dwyer and Staff Sergeant Ramon Padilla walked to the first tee to hit the first shot and officially kick off the event.
Major Dwyer and Sergeant Padilla wore the characteristic red shirts of the Wounded Warriors group. Both men were also missing their left hands and used special clubs adapted to their prostheses. Major Dwyer, who lost his left arm after being struck with a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan three years ago, said teeing off with Tiger Woods was something special.
"To be honest with you, it was not anything [I expected], and I
certainly expected not to hit a shot that went that straight," he said. "It was
probably the best shot I have hit in weeks. Like I said, I expected to
be nervous, but when I got up there, no."
Major Dwyer's wife Jenny says the Wounded Warrior Program has greatly helped her husband and others injured in combat.
"They have done so much to bring guys out to these events and it gives you a sense of life outside of being wounded," said Jenny Dwyer. "And that life is enjoyable and wonderful, and all the great activities that you can still do. And it does not matter if you are wounded. Life goes on and is great."
As part of his support for the military, Woods also filled a special "Care Package" for soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan. One member of the crowd asked Tiger if he thought the recipients would believe the package was from him. He smiled broadly and said "I hope so."