Essential Golf: A passion for the Game

Kobe Bryant Tragedy & Tiger Woods

No matter the denomination of sports, the entire sports atmosphere was rattled to the core when news of basketball legend, Kobe Bryant and his daughter GiGi’s death was confirmed Sunday morning. Nine victims total were deceased in a tragic helicopter crash when it crashed into the side of a hill in Calabasas. Longtime friend Tiger Woods was at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego when news of the tragedy began to make its way through the course. It wasn’t until Woods’ completed his round at the Farmers Insurance Open that his caddie informed him of the bad news about his friend.

“Excuse me?” reacts Tiger Woods to Kobe Bryant news

His caddie Joe LaCava explained to the New York Post that the decision to inform Woods about Kobe Bryant was done at the end of the round to give him privacy in his reaction. “I didn’t think he’d be to the point where he couldn’t play golf, but I figured I’d wait to the end. It was too much of a distraction. I waited until we got to the tunnel on 18 to tell him because I didn’t want the cameras on him and see the shock on his face.”

Even before LaCava informed Tiger Woods about Kobe Bryant and the tragedy spectators were shouting, “Do it for Mamba!” occasionally during his round. Although cameras weren’t able to capture his facial reactions, they were able to capture LaCava and Woods walking through the tunnel where it sounds like LaCava says, “I have something tragic to tell you.” After breaking the news Woods blurts a shocked reaction of, “Excuse me?”

Crowd yells “Do it for Mamba”

 In an interview with CBS Sports Woods explains that he wasn’t sure why people were yelling out “Do it for Mamba!”, but now understands after getting word of his untimely passing. He also gave some insight to reporters about the fragility of life. “Life is very fragile, as we all know. You can be gone any given time and we have to appreciate the moments we have. I just can’t imagine what his family’s going through right now,” he tells CBS Sports.  

Two friends who were at the top of the craft

Talking to PGA TOUR reporters, Woods also reflected on the eerie coincidence of basketball phenomenon LeBron James breaking his scoring record just the day prior to Bryant’s passing. “LeBron breaks his record and he passes today. I grew up a die-hard Lakers fan, always have been my entire life. That’s all I remember, and he was a part of the most historic franchise in all of the NBA.”

Besides both being the top of their craft and having surpassed legendary status years ago, there is more to the personal relationship between Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant. According to Woods, the two became closer when they both worked out at Equinox together after Bryant had retired. “When he retired we worked out at Equinox together. I was always getting up early, he’d get up early, we’d work out,” Woods explained. “We really connected on the more the mental side of it, the prep, how much it takes to be prepared.”

Nine victims in the crash

Kobe Bryant was 41 the day of his passing, and his 13-year-old daughter GiGi Maria was 13. Orange Coast College baseball coach, John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and one his daughters Alyssa also passed in the crash. Girls’ basketball couch Christina Mauser and the pilot Ara Zobayan also were apart of the nine souls lost too soon. Lastly Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton were also aboard and passed tragically. Details of what sent the helicopter crashing into a hill are still being determined.