“It’s a dream come true for myself,” Woods said at the time.
Since then, Woods’s travails — scandal and divorce personally, injury and slump professionally — make up one of the best-known narratives in sports. His withdrawal from next week’s U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club is indicative of Woods’s journey. At one point, he might have been a good bet to match or surpass Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major championships at the Bethesda course that is host to his signature tournament, putting the final touch on his athletic legacy while simultaneously deepening his connection to Washington.
Now, though, Woods has appeared just twice in his event here; he will miss what will be the area’s most significant golf tournament in more than a decade; and the AT&T National will be staged this summer, for the second year in a row, outside Philadelphia because Congressional needed a two-year hiatus to redo its greens and then host the Open.
Thus, Woods’s connection to the District lies in a pair of rooms in two charter schools — one in Northeast, the other on Capitol Hill — where small groups of kids zealously pursue a variety of projects in ambitious after-school programs.
“I felt uncomfortable with” a legacy limited to golf, Woods said in an interview last month in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. “There was something more. . . . With golf clinics, you’re in and out. There’s no leave-behind.’”
What, then, will Woods’s “leave-behind” be in Washington?
Adjusting the plan
Monday afternoon in a classroom on the second floor of the Cesar Chavez Charter School for Public Policy’s Parkside campus in Northeast Washington, classes had ended for the day, but eight middle school students worked away feverishly. An egg-drop contest approached, and not all of the apparatuses — laden with balloons, Styrofoam, straws, paper, tape, what have you — were complete yet.
“I like this program because it gets them focused on careers,” said Thomas Hailu, a Howard University graduate who serves as one of five instructors — three full-time, two part-time — at the two District campuses of the Tiger Woods Learning Center. “They can see a connection between what they do here and what they might do for a living.”