What I'll Remember About 2013: Sharing Tiger's 61 with my son

November 24, 2013
By John Swantek, PGATOUR.COM

PGATOUR.COM asked its staffers and writers what they will remember about the 2013 season. For the archived list of essays and a complete review of the season, click here.

The first text came through at 1:36 p.m. ET on August 2, early in the second round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.

“Tiger’s 3-under thru 2!!! It’s crazy out here!!”


The sender was my 14-year-old son, Nick, along for the ride in Akron as I hosted the international World Feed broadcast. And yes, I was on the air as the texts came buzzing in on vibrate mode. My uninterrupted presentation to 800 million viewers in 220 countries wasn’t really Nick’s concern. Tiger was on the prowl and chasing history.

“I have a feeling it’s that special round. He might go for 59!” was the teenager’s cry after another birdie at the 3rd.

Sensing something historic was in the works, a massive overflowing gallery made the turn with Woods, who was out in 30. Traditional old Firestone was transformed into a mosh pit, and my 5-foot, 3-inch son was willfully being swept along.

“Loudest roars of my life!” after birdies on 10 and 11.

“This is unbelievable! He CANNOT miss!!” after the leader poured in birdies at the 12th and 13th.

For all of his greatness, all of his astonishing achievements and ability to do things we had never seen before and will likely never see again, Tiger Woods had never shot 59. Yet, here he stood on the doorstep of history, 9 under with five holes to play on a par 70. Everyone could do the math. But one high school freshman just happened to solve the equation differently.


It was an ambitious prediction and, ultimately, off the mark by 3. The birdies dried up for Woods, whose five closing pars concluded a captivating round of 61, punctuated by an all-world save from the trees at the last. Those who were shoehorned into the grandstands at 18 – my middle child among them – were left with the lasting, symbolic image of the game’s number one player with his index finger pointing skyward as the final, sliding 20-footer rattled the bottom of the cup.

Both professionally and personally, the day was simply unforgettable for me. I can’t imagine many moments at a golf tournament that could eclipse a steely eyed, fist-pumping Tiger Woods making a run at the record books. Except experiencing it through the eyes – and texts – of my son.