Tiger Woods received a shocking reception after clinching the Tour Championship on Sunday.
Woods was greeted with silence in a large conference room with all of the players’ backs to him and no acknowledgement of his victory.
Unknown to Woods, it was a prank set up by his caddie, Joe LaCava, alongside U.S. captain Jim Furyk and vice-captain Zach Johnson.
“It didn’t go off as well as it could have because there was so much going on,” LaCava said.
“But Jim had asked me about it, and I said, ‘Sure, it’ll be great. He’ll love.’ All the players were in on it, but not everyone there was.
“They were congratulating him, but all the players were sitting with their backs to him. They were going to try and rough him up a bit. Not one player said anything to him about the tournament.”
Woods said during a practice round at Le Golf National on Wednesday that for a few minutes he was wondering what was going on.
“They tried to give me the home-run treatment,” he said, referring to the baseball tradition of giving a light-hitting player the cold shoulder when he returns to the dugout after a rare home run. “But it didn’t last very long. Jim couldn’t keep a straight face.
“We had a bunch of [autograph] signing to do, and I heard Jim wanted to talk to me. He was sitting there not saying anything. I tapped him on the shoulder, he looked at me like no big deal. I said, ‘I’m here, I’m going to start signing.’ He couldn’t keep it together. It was good.”
A few minutes later, all of the U.S. players, caddies and families who were there began clapping and gave Woods a standing ovation.
“The thought behind it was tremendous, the plan behind it was spectacular, but the execution was very poor,” said Johnson. “It was supposed to last for a duration that would have caused some awkwardness, but I didn’t feel any awkwardness.
“The applause came pretty quick. It’s T. So when you see him win his first golf tournament in five years, you want to put your hands together.”
It was Johnson at the 2016 Ryder Cup in Minnesota who had a bunch of T-shirts printed for players to wear that said “Make Tiger Great Again.” Johnson played on the winning 2016 team, and Woods was a vice-captain.