Tiger gets a hustling lesson

Irish millionaire takes him to the cleaners

Bob Warters's picture
Thu, 12 Jul 2001
Tiger gets a hustling lesson

Hustling – the black art of gambling on golf using the handicap system to your advantage - is a popular pastime at US clubs and in some corners of the UK and Ireland.

Former Tour pros Headley Muscroft and Lionel Platts were past masters of it when based around the Leeds area in the 1960s taking on all-comers, professional and amateur, for a series of side bets and invariably coming out on top for outrageous sums – often into five figures.

Tiger Woods got exposed to it yesterday during his whistle-stop visit to Limerick on his way to The Open championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes, and was taught an expensive lesson.

Irish millionaire ‘J P’ McManus who has made his money from currency dealings, horse racing and gambling, challenged the World No.1 to a novel 18-hole match over the Limerick County Golf Club course using a unique handicap system aimed at equalising the vast gap in their golfing ability.

Woods agreed, not only to give the Irishman a stroke advantage at 14 holes but both would play two balls for every shot. McManus would choose his best, Tiger his worst.

With a par at the first hole McManus took the lead and though the six times major champion played some outrageous shots including one from his knees behind a tree, the Irish hustler was always one step ahead.

A gallery of specially invited guests watched the action unfold with Woods finally conceding 5 & 4 on the 14th green with a wide grin. The cash which changed hands for charity was reputedly in six figures.

Said Tiger: "Today was a lot of fun, even though I got smoked. I’m playing better though not well enough and I don’t think I’ll play JP again – not in a competitive match, anyway."

After a few more hours spent salmon fishing with his close friend Mark O’Meara, Woods, who has been staying at Adare Manor, plans to fly into Blackpool for The Open on Monday.

"I’m happy at present, even though I wasn’t playing that well last week. All I need is a couple of breaks and a couple of things to go right. I intend to take it easy and relax this week because the majors are so draining."

Richard Leonard, captain of the Limerick golf club observed: "Stick to the majors Tiger and leave the hustling to JP."