Tiger Woods learns of Kobe Bryant’s death after finishing round, praises his competitive focus

SAN DIEGO – During the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open, Tiger Woods didn’t understand why so many people in the galleries at Torrey Pines were voicing unusual encouragement.

“Do it for Mamba, do it for Mamba,” he kept hearing.

Just a few moments after walking off the 18th green, Woods came to understand what the chants meant when his caddie, Joe LaCava, told him Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash Sunday morning.

Woods, a huge Los Angeles Lakers fan, admired and respected Bryant. He often talked about how he and Bryant and New York Yankees great Derek Jeter broke into the professional ranks around the same time, how they were about the same age and how they excelled for 20-plus years as pros.

Tiger Woods plays his shot from the fourth tee during the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open. (Photo: Orlando Ramirez, USA TODAY Sports)

“When he retired, we’d work out at Equinox together,” Woods said. “I was always getting up early, he’d get up early, we’d work out. He liked and enjoyed retired life, but he missed being competitive beyond the course and doing what he did, but it was his time.

“We really connected on more the mental side of it, the prep, how much it takes to be prepared. For me, I don’t have to react like he does in my sport, we can take our time. But you’ve still got to pay attention to the details and that’s what he did better than probably any other player in NBA history. He paid attention to the details, the little things.”

Woods didn’t talk about his golf after he closed with a 2-under-par 70 to finish at 9 under and in a tie for ninth. Instead, he added a few more comments on Bryant.

“The fire,” Woods said when asked what he remembered about Bryant. “He burned so competitively hot. He brought it each and every night on both ends of the floor. The hours that he spent in the gym in the offseason and during the summers to work on shots and do all the different things, it looked like it came natural to him on the court during game time, but he spent more hours looking at film and trying to figure out what’s the best way to become better.

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