For once, Tiger Woods wasn't the center of attention for fans gathered around the tee boxes and greens.
According the Knoxville News Sentinel, Petyon Manning paired with Tiger Woods on Wednesday at the Quail Hollow Championship pro-am in Charlotte.
Fans waiting for Woods to clear the green so they could surround Manning with No. 18 jerseys and Colts helmets to sign. With Manning’s alma mater, Tennessee, a four-hour drive away, there was plenty of orange in the crowd, too.
The 6-foot-1 Woods had to look up at the 6-5 Manning as they chatted in fairways and tee boxes. A bond created by their understanding of the pressure of fame and expectations, they became friends several years ago.
The duo played in a pro-am in 2005 at Bay Hill. They’ve also played private rounds together as recently as March in Florida.
Wednesday was hardly private. They teed off at 7:30 a.m. with several hundred fans craning their necks to see around the first tee. The crowd following them swelled into the thousands as the morning wore on.
“It’s everything you’d think it would be,” Manning said. “It’s really special. Watching him hit the ball, listening to him hit the ball, he tells great golf stories.
“He has a great interest in football. He follows football, keeps up with the Colts, which is cool. He’s a great host. He played great today and we had a lot of fun.”
Manning’s not a bad golfer, either, although he acknowledged he had to overcome some early nerves.
“He’s gotten better,” Woods said. “You can see he’s been playing all winter.”
It didn’t stop Woods from needling him. After Manning sank a putt for bogey after a couple of errant shots on No. 5, Woods joked, “Way to finish, Peyton.”
At No. 17, Manning faced a long, tricky putt from the front fringe. He yelled across to Woods, “Tiger, are you going to make yours?”
Woods just smiled. Manning went on to three-putt. Woods sank his putt for birdie.
“He can give it out with the best of them,” Manning said of Woods. “The problem is I’m always on his turf.”
“This is true, very true,” Woods said, laughing. “Keep it that way.”
After they each parred the final hole, the winner of 14 major titles and the former Super Bowl MVP shook hands and smiled before signing autographs for throngs of fans.
“I know what my day job is. I’ll be back in Indianapolis in probably two hours lifting weights,” Manning said. “We’ll be brought back to earth real soon.”
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