Tiger Woods THRILLS nine-year-old heart-transplant recipient holding ‘Bucket List’ sign by personally checking off a meeting with her idol, the 15-time major winner, during Genesis Invitational

Tiger Woods THRILLS nine-year-old heart-transplant recipient holding ‘Bucket List’ sign by personally checking off a meeting with her idol, the 15-time major winner, during Genesis Invitational

After being slammed for a chauvinist prank on Justin Thomas on Friday, Tiger Woods may have redeemed himself with fans on Saturday at the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles by giving a young spectator the thrill of a lifetime. Woods, who was four-under par on Saturday to move to three-under for the tournament, saw a young fan on the 17th hole holding a peculiar sign.

‘My Bucket List,’ the sign read.

‘Get Heart Transplant,’ read the next line, alongside a big checkmark.

‘Meet Tiger Woods,’ read the second line alongside an empty box.

Woods approached the young fan, later identified as heart transplant recipient Madelyn Quinn, personally checked off the second line on her sign, and gave her an autographed glove.

Quinn also received an awkward high five from Woods, who was walking towards the 18th tee at the time.

She had a third line on her sign, reading ‘play Augusta,’ but that will have to wait for another day.

As reported by Golf Digest, Quinn was born with a heart defect, which caused her to have three open-heart surgeries beginning when she was just two-years-old.

Quinn dreams of becoming a pro golfer.

Her father, Greg, is a former PGA teaching pro, who has now taken her to see Woods twice.

‘Thank you @TigerWoods – it’s the things like these that don’t get enough media and attention,’ Greg tweeted. You the man!!!’

Greg described her recovery from a heart transplant to the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2021.

‘It was the most miraculous transformation we had ever seen,’ Greg said. ‘Her cheeks were rosy, she was warm to the touch for the first time. You don’t realize until you live it every day what heart failure can do. She’s been going a million miles an hour ever since.’

Woods had some explaining to do Friday, about a putter so cold he nearly missed the cut at Riviera, and about a chauvinist prank he played on Justin Thomas in the Genesis Invitational.

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In his return to elite competition for the first time in seven months, Woods caused quite a buzz in the opening round for all the wrong reasons.

It started when he ripped a 323-yard drive, some 10 yards longer than the 29-year-old Thomas. Walking off the tee, Woods discreetly put something in Thomas’ hand, which Thomas tossed to the ground when he realized what it was — a tampon, to remind him that Woods hit it farther. Woods laughed and put his arm around Thomas.

Social media came to life when the moment was posted. On Friday, one fan shouted, ‘Tampon!’ at Woods after he made a rare putt.

Woods apologized after his bogey-bogey finish for a 74 in the second round, which left him over the projected cut line. By the end of the day, he moved up enough spots that he was certain to be around for the weekend. He was 11 shots behind Max Homa.

‘It was supposed to be all fun and games and obviously it hasn’t turned out that way,’ Woods said. ‘If I offended anybody in any way, shape or form, I’m sorry. It was not intended to be that way. It was just we play pranks on one another all the time and virally I think this did not come across that way.’

He seemed to put it behind him on Saturday, by shooting his best round since 2020.

Woods trails leader Jon Rahm by 12 strokes after shooting a 67 on Saturday.

‘Today was better,’ Woods said. ‘I felt like I made some nice adjustments with my putting and that was the thing that held make back yesterday. I’ve driven it well the last three days, my iron play was been good. And the firm conditions I like, that’s kind of right up my alley with iron play. Just wish I could have putted a little bit better yesterday.’

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What stood out was the day. It was his best score on a Saturday in an official event since the fall of 2019.

It’s a small sample size to be sure — 12 tournaments since he won the Zozo Championship in Japan in 2019 — but his legs are a bigger issue than how he swings the club.

Woods shattered bones in his right leg and ankle from a car crash in Los Angeles two years ago. He returned 14 months later to play in the Masters and made the cut, a remarkable feat. And then on the weekend, he limped his way to a pair of 78s.

A month later at Southern Hills for the PGA Championship, he again made the cut with some dazzling play down the stretch on Friday. But the wind shifted, a cold front arrived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and he shot 79 and withdrew.

Woods made the cut on the number at Riviera and started on the back nine. He opened with a 15-foot birdie putt, missed a good chance on the par-5 11th and then raised the putter in his left hand as his 25-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the par-3 14th dropped for another birdie.

The biggest moment was on the par-5 opening hole after he made the turn. Caught between clubs and feeling a little wind in his face, he hit a cut with a 5-iron that landed toward the front of the green and rolled inches by the cup before settling 3 feet away for what amounted to a tap-in eagle.

He finally dropped a shot on the seventh when his approached rolled off the steep ledge, leaving a tough pitch. But he finished better than Friday, when he bogeyed three of his last four holes.

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‘I thought I could make a run where I could reach out and touch the leaders,’ Woods said before conceding that he was too far back.

Rahm is playing at another level right now, a level with which Woods is familiar. The Spaniard has not finished out of the top 10 since August, and he is going for his fifth win over his last nine starts.

Woods said he was sore after his fourth straight day walking — starting with the pro-am on Wednesday when he stopped playing after 16 holes — and he speaks of the recovery after a round and the preparation before it.

That part isn’t fun. Saturday was. And while the chill in the morning air hasn’t been great, the fast conditions at Riviera are right up his alley.

‘I’ve been pretty one dimensional on how to hit my tee shots,’ he said. ‘I’ve kind of gone to my little stock shot because I just haven’t played enough where I feel like I can hit different shots. … The way the golf course is playing, as fast as it is, a flat cut can go a very long way here, so I’ve been able to hit that shot. Then with the firm greens, I thoroughly enjoy that for my iron game, and finally made some putts.’

Sunday will be his first 72-hole event since the Masters, and only his second since his car crash that happened not far from Riviera. Woods already is looking ahead to his return to Augusta National, but he wants to wait until after this week to see about adding any tournaments before then.