SAN MARTIN, Calif. (AP) — A strange year for Tiger Woods took another bizarre twist Sunday when a fan was arrested for running toward the seventh green at CordeValle and tossing a hot dog in Woods’ direction.
The bun barely reached the green. The hot dog landed on the putting surface.
The 31-year-old man, whose name wasn’t released, dropped to the ground to be arrested as Santa Clara sheriff’s deputies converged on him. Woods backed off his birdie putt, then quickly resumed play.
Even as he returned last year from a sex scandal, and the occasional fan would should heckle him, Woods never had a fan duck under the ropes and approach him.
“Some guy just came running on the green, and he had a hot dog, and evidently … I don’t know how he tried to throw it, but I was kind of focusing on my putt when he started yelling,” said Woods, who didn’t seem bothered by it all. “Next thing I know, he laid on the ground, and looked like he wanted to be arrested because he … put his hands behind his back and turned his head.”
Sgt. Jose Cardoza said the man was arrested for disturbing the peace and removed from the property. Because it was a misdemeanor, Cardoza said the man would not be taken to jail and his name not disclosed. Cardoza said only that he was from Santa Rosa.
“He was very cooperative,” Cardoza said. “They said, ‘Why did you do this?’ He just shook his head in guilt or remorse. He didn’t give a reason why he did it.”
Cardoza said the man claims he wasn’t throwing the hot dog at Woods, rather tossing it in the air. He said the man acknowledged having a drink earlier in the day, that the man was not drunk.
Arjun Atwal, who played with Woods, said he was concerned for a moment at the sight of a fan yelling out Woods’ name and approaching the green.
“They could have shot him,” Atwal said. “The cops could have thought it was something else.”
It was high drama, albeit briefly, in an otherwise solid round of 3-under 68 for Woods. In his first tournament in seven weeks, he finished with three straight rounds of 68 to tie for 30th, 10 shots behind, at 7-under 277. It was the first time Woods had three straight rounds in the 60s on the PGA Tour since the Deutsche Bank Championship last year.
Still, the hot dog incident stole the show.
“It was bizarre,” said Rod Pampling, who also played with Woods. “This guy comes running out with a hot dog in his hand, and then he lays down and puts his hands behind his back.”
Woods said he never felt threatened because he was on the back end of the green and the fan never got close to him. He heard the commotion of security behind him, and when he looked up, the hot dog already was in the air.
“The bun was kind of disintegrating there,” Woods said. “He knew what he was doing because he laid on the ground, put his hands behind his back and turned his head away from security. So just one of those deals.”
The only thing that bothered Woods was missing the 18-foot birdie putt.
“I guess he wanted to be in the news,” Woods said. “And I’m sure he will be.”
When he finished with a final birdie, any seriousness of the incident gave way to levity. Dan Diggins, head of security for tournament sponsor Frys Electronics, said the man would be arrested for “everything” and described him as “just an idiot.”
“It wasn’t a chili dog,” Diggins said. “That could have been really bad.”
The rest of Woods’ round wasn’t nearly as eventful. He did get on the leaderboard, before the leaders teed off, with four birdies in his opening six holes. But he missed the 16th green and made bogey, and after an easy birdie on the 17th, didn’t make another one until the his final hole on the par-5 ninth.
“I got better every day, and unfortunately, a couple times I didn’t get the momentum going when I had a couple of chances to make putts,” Woods said. “I could have just really got it rolling.”
He attributed that to not enough play. Because of injuries to his left leg this year that are finally healed, Woods has played only 10 full rounds since the Masters.
“I haven’t played much,” Woods said. “That comes with competitive flow, understanding the situations and feels, and game time is a little bit different.”
He is hosting a tournament at Pebble Beach next week to raise money for his foundation, and he said “family obligations” would keep him from playing the season-ending tournament at Disney.
Woods is playing a series of exhibitions in Asia and Australia leading up to his next appearance at the Australian Open on Nov. 10-13, with the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne a week later.
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