Tiger Woods is under medical care for a terrible car accident – but golf audiences saw his image at tournaments around the U.S. on Sunday, as many of the game's top golfers wore Woods' signature red shirt and black pants in his honor.
"It is hard to explain how touching today was when I turned on the tv and saw all the red shirts," Woods said via Twitter. "To every golfer and every fan, you are truly helping me get through this tough time."
Woods is recuperating from a rollover crash in Southern California that left him with significant injuries, particularly in his right leg. A rod is now bolstering his tibia, and surgeons used pins and screws to stabilize his foot and ankle.
In a widespread show of solidarity, golfers who normally compete against Woods showed their support for him on Sunday, wearing his trademark colors. The long list includes Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Justin Thomas and Jason Day.
"At this stage I think everyone should just be grateful that he's here, that he's alive, that his kids haven't lost their dad," McIlroy said. "That's the most important thing. Golf is so far from the equation right now, it's not even on the map at this point."
Collin Morikawa – who on Sunday became the only player not named Tiger Woods to win a major tournament and a World Golfing Championship title before turning 25 – did not wear red, but he still paid tribute to Woods, calling him an inspiration.
"Tiger means everything to me," Morikawa said after his championship round. He looked into the camera to add, "I don't think we say thank you enough, so I want to say thank you to Tiger."
Many players in the LPGA also wore the colors, including Annika Sorenstam – a friend of Woods, and who competed in an LPGA Tour event for the first time since 2008.
Golfers who share Woods' sponsor, Nike, had the easiest time matching his look. Tony Finau, for instance, walked out in red and black, even copying the superstar's pre-round habit of flipping his cap around backwards.
Other pros, obliged to wear their own sponsors' gear on the course, were content to wear red stripes. And several golfers played with Woods' name or initials written on their cap or ball. For his tribute, Mickelson said, he simply went out and bought a red shirt to wear "in honor of Tiger."
The support was in plain sight at the Puerto Rico Open, where the entire maintenance staff was decked out in the colors.
Last Tuesday's shocking crash has presented Woods with his latest and greatest challenge in recovering from medical setbacks. He's had multiple surgeries on his knees and back over his career, including a spinal fusion procedure.
At the time of the accident, Woods was undergoing physical rehab for his fifth back surgery.
Now Woods' competitors are pulling for him to return to the game, in much the same way the legendary Ben Hogan did after his car crashed with a bus in 1949.
"Wishing him a quick recovery and a Ben Hogan style comeback," Dustin Johnson said last week. "If anyone can do it, it's TW."
You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for. If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.