The sports world continues to mourn the tragic loss of Kobe Bryant, and yesterday Tiger Woods found himself in a position to pay tribute to his friend in more ways than one. Woods hit an amazing shot for an eagle that had special significance to Bryant and later honored him on the eighth hole.
On his first hole at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club on Thursday, the golfer hit his tee shot 312 yards, as reported by USA Today. His second shot went 171 yards on the par-5 hole, leaving him with a good view at 24 feet and 8 inches.
Woods had a chance to honor his friend with the putt, on the first hole of the day in Los Angeles. This distance made up the two jersey numbers “24” and “8” the Los Angeles Lakers legend wore in the NBA. He curled the shot in from the right to break left and drop in the cup. At the time, he did not realize the correlation between the distance and Bryant’s jerseys.
After the round, the 44-year-old spoke to the reporters who asked him about hitting this “Kobe shot.”
“Yeah, it’s ironic, isn’t it?” the reigning Masters champion said. “I didn’t know about the putt being that long.”
This course holds special meaning for the golfing icon as this track is where he made his PGA Tour at the young age of 16-years-old, and now he’s vying for his record-breaking 83rd PGA Tour victory.
He was not finished honoring Bryant. On the eighth hole, Woods paid subtle tribute to the five-time NBA champion by “shooting” the golf ball over to his caddy with a flick of the wrist, basketball-style.
CNN reported Woods spoke to the media about how he expects people in the world of sports to continue honoring Bryant.
“No matter what we do, I think for a while we’re going to always remember Kobe and what he meant, especially here in SoCal and the entire sports world,” the golfer added.
Tiger’s Kobe tribute. ????????— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 14, 2020
Brooks' "cute" bomb. ????️♂️????
Rory’s eagles. ????????
It’s all in The Takeaway. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/SnCnl3Yqcw
Several golfers also paid tribute to Bryant during this round, as per CNN. The world’s top-ranked golfer, Rory McIlroy, used Lakers covers on his clubs with the numbers “24” and “8,” along with the words “Mamba Mentality” emblazoned on them.
Brooks Koepka was another player who used Lakers covers for his clubs. Justin Thomas paid homage to the basketball icon by wearing a pair of custom-made purple-and-gold shoes that had a picture of Bryant dunking a basketball and “1978-2020” at the bottom.