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Tiger saw me hit a shank – it was the best day ever

Tiger saw me hit a shank – it was the best day ever

Picture this. You’re 18 years old and you’re asked to hit a shot in front of Tiger Woods. What do you do? If you’re Çağatay Ural it turns out you shank it – not once, twice but three times.

Tiger and Amateur

Yet, it is a day he’ll remember forever.

It’s 2012 and the location is Antalya Golf Club in Turkey. A teenage Çağatay has just finished caddying for his best friend in the Eisenhower Trophy – a prestigious event which involves the best amateurs in the world.

After being told he was required to attend a golf clinic with a professional golfer playing in the following year’s Turkish Airlines Open, Çağatay hastily got himself ready and headed to the driving rage.

To his amazement, when he arrived, he was met by Woods – then a 14-time Major Champion and the World Number One.

“It wasn’t initially in the plan to meet Tiger,” said Çağatay, who was a scratch golfer at the time.

“I was there for the World Amateur Championship when after the tournament we were told there was going to be a clinic – but they didn’t say who it was going to be with.

“I wasn’t ready for it! I didn’t have golf shoes, golf anything, and as you can see from the video, I wasn’t feeling very prepared.

“When it was due to be time to go and hit in front of Tiger I was really sweaty. When it came to my turn, I just went up and he said: ‘hi, I’m Tiger’, and I said ‘yes, I know who you are!’ After that he just told me: ‘come on, go for it’.

“As I said before my hands were very sweaty, and I was shaking. Then I hit the shot, which was a very good shank! I hit another shank and then I went back into the line of people, but then Tiger said: ‘come on hit one more’.

“I went back, and would you believe it I hit another shank! It pissed me off after that and I said: ‘my hands are sweaty’, so Tiger gave me a towel to help dry my hands.

“After I dried my hands, I hit two good shots – but they weren’t on video!”

When Tiger returned to play in Turkey in 2013, Çağatay recalls an electric atmosphere, where marshals wrestled for ‘quiet please’ signs, so they could follow Tiger’s group.  

The fact that arguably the game’s greatest player came to his home country still makes Çağatay smile.

Tiger and Amateur 2

“It was a really special moment not just for me, but everyone in Turkey, as he is our idol,” he said.

“That’s why I am still so happy with my shanks because many people have hit shots in front of Tiger, but they don’t have a story like mine. It is still the best day of my life!

“I am a teaching professional now and I still tell this story to our juniors – they always ask me ‘how was it?’

“Of course, I tell them that there was a lot of pressure, but I say to them ‘sometimes in life you just have to feel it and live in the moment.’”

Since his encounter with Tiger, Çağatay has been to university, trained to be a teaching professional and now works at Samsun Golf Club – which will host a European Challenge Tour event next week.

“We always dream of having the European Tour and the Challenge Tour come to Turkey, so I am very excited to have them here,” he said.

Now 25, Çağatay is also working hard to try and introduce as many people as possible in Turkey to golf and has set up a channel called Golf Seve’n TV – named after the great Seve Ballesteros.

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