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The story behind the first time Tiger Woods met Sam Snead—and the cool photo of them together

October 27, 2019

As Tiger Woods went about matching Sam Snead’s all-time PGA Tour win total of 82 with his victory at the Zozo Championship, a photo surfaced of the two record-holders that will make even the least sentimental golf fan smile.

There is Snead, signing an autograph for a young Woods, who is adorably sipping a soda from a straw (the Slammer appears to have something stronger in front of him if you click through to see the full vertical image). We’ll pause while you let out the requisite “Aww…”

Woods was asked about the meeting in his post-victory press conference, and offered a recollection.

“Well, I played with Sam at I think it was Calabasas Country Club," Woods said. “He was doing an outing there, and I came out to play the 17th and 18th with him. I remember hitting the ball into a little creek and playing it out of the water and making bogey. I bogeyed the last, and he went par-par. It’s the only time I got the chance to play with Sam Snead and was 2 down through two.”

Woods seemed to have the details of their “match” correct, except for the fact the meeting doesn’t seem to have happened at Calabasas. Veteran golf writer Bill Fields, in reporting a story for Golf Digest earlier this year, researched that the two did meet in 1982 (putting Tiger at age 6 in the photo) and that Woods did insist on playing a ball submerged in a water hazard. But Tiger’s original swing coach, Rudy Duran, told Fields that the two met at Soboba Springs. Any potential confusion on Tiger’s part could come from the fact that the “Today” show filmed a feature of Tiger at Calabasas the previous year.

Duran told Fields that Snead was a bit taken aback by Tiger’s insist to play the ball as it lied in the hazard.

“Tiger kind of looked at Snead kind of funny and got his iron out and hit it on the green,” Duran says. “Sam shook his head like, ‘That’s pretty good.’ Tiger two-putted for what I would have called a Tiger par, because he was only hitting it about 90 yards if he killed it off the tee.”

Regardless of where the encounter took place, the fact that it happened at all is a great bit of golf trivia.