Forecaddie: The Presidents Cup when Tiger Woods chugged vodka cranberries like water

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Forecaddie: The Presidents Cup when Tiger Woods chugged vodka cranberries like water

Forecaddie

Forecaddie: The Presidents Cup when Tiger Woods chugged vodka cranberries like water

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The Man Out Front learned something new about Tiger Woods the other day. He likes cranberry juice as his mixer. More on that in a moment.

Woods and Ernie Els will lock heads as team captains of Team USA and Team International, respectively, at the Presidents Cup this week. No matter how tense the action gets watching their 12-man teams try to hole putts, it likely will pale in comparison to the gut-wrenching pressure of having the entire outcome of the match hang in the balance as it did when they faced off in a sudden-death playoff in 2003 in Els’ home country of South Africa.

Dennis Alpert, then tournament director of the Presidents Cup for the PGA Tour, tells The Forecaddie, that Woods went “stone cold” when he realized the match was tied and he and Els would play for all the marbles.

Tiger Woods and Ernie Els each parred three consecutive sudden-death playoff holes before the 2003 Presidents Cup was called by darkness.

“Tiger’s demeanor completely changed,” Alpert recalled. “He went stone cold. The enormity of the situation hit them both. The burden fell on their shoulders. Tiger was World No. 1, the player everyone came to see. Ernie was playing on home soil. He’s the Big Easy and was like the ambassador of the event. Add to that, they each felt this incredible weight on their shoulders on behalf of their teammates. I remember trying to make some small talk with them, wishing them both good luck and feeling as though a cold breeze had fallen over me.”

But it wasn’t until after they played three extra holes and the match was called for darkness and ruled a tie that Alpert discovered how the match shook Tiger to the core.

“Tiger is sitting in front of me in the van back to the clubhouse and he’s shaking,” Alpert said. “One of the players said it was incredible how he handled the pressure of the moment and asked him, ‘How do you feel?’ Tiger held up his hand and it was shaking. He wanted to show these guys – this is how I feel. He said he’d never been this nervous in his life.”

On the short, uphill winding ride to the clubhouse, Woods had one special request, asking if the clubhouse served cranberry juice. Why, yes they did.

“Can you get me a vodka cranberry?” Alpert recalls Woods adjusting his order. “He said make it a big one.”

Alpert had the driver pull over at the side of the clubhouse near the bar and he jumped out and fetched a pint glass inside and had the bartender make a stiff drink. Woods was sitting in front of his locker when Alpert arrived, and his hands were still shaking.

“Tiger took the drink and chugged it like it was water,” Alpert said.

And Woods’ thirst wasn’t quenched yet. He asked for another to take the edge off. Alpert came back with another and a Miller Genuine Draft. He pounded those too.

“It was like a musician winding down at the end of a concert,” Alpert said.

Mozart in the Jungle has nothing on Tiger in the African safari.

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