Tiger returns to Thailand, wins just one skin
BANGKOK – Tiger Woods returned to his mother’s home country for a four-man charity skins tournament on Monday and left soon after winning only one hole in another disappointing performance.
Colombian golfer Camillo Villegas won the most money at the World Golf Salutes King Bhumibol Skins Tournament at the Amata Springs Club in Chonburi province, taking five skins for $109,800. Paul Casey won nine skins for $92,400, and local golfer Thongchai Jaidee claimed three skins for $90,000.
Woods earned only $6,600 for his skin and left the country right after the event on his private jet to Melbourne, where he will defend his Australian Masters title starting Thursday. It was Woods’ first trip to the homeland of his mother, Kultida, in 10 years. She did not accompany him due to health problems.
In a skins tournament, players compete for a reward for each hole, with prize money added to the next hole in case of a tie.
The prize money of $900,000 will be donated to a charity foundation associated with Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The event is part of celebrations marking King Bhumibol’s 60th year on the Thai throne.
Woods made a visit early Monday morning to the ailing 82-year-old king, who has been at a Bangkok hospital for more than a year. The golfer did not meet the king but signed a get-well book at the hospital.
Woods has not won a tournament this year after stepping away from the game for nearly four months in the wake of an infidelity scandal that damaged his image and led to the breakup of his marriage.
Thais adore Woods because of his family connection to the country. But the golfer displayed his American side by shaking hands with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and ignoring the leader’s “wai,” the traditional Thai greeting of palms pressed together with a head bow that is a sign of humility and respect.
Dressed in a grey blazer and black trousers, Woods and Thongchai, Thailand’s top player, presented Abhisit with a golf club during a brief meeting at his office, the Government House.
The golfers handed Abhisit a check for 2.2 million baht ($73,000) from ticket sales they are donating to the victims of recent floods that left more than 100 people dead. Woods then boarded a helicopter for the tournament in Chonburi, a seaside province southeast of Bangkok.
Woods arrived in Bangkok on Sunday night after competing in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
Woods first played in Thailand in 1997, when he won the Asian Honda Classic and was greeted by large crowds. He also received a royal decoration and was feted by the then prime minister.
He last played in Thailand in 2000, winning the Johnnie Walker Classic. He also won the inaugural event in 1998.