Retired Army sergeant Bart Womack is a big fan of Tiger Woods – and not just because of his golf game.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Womack stayed up to watch Tiger play golf on TV – and it saved his life when two live hand grenades were tossed into his tent.
“If I’d gone to sleep in my cot as usual, those hand grenades would have blown me to pieces,” said Womack, 55. “It’s truly a miracle I’m alive – and I owe it all to my favorite golfer, Tiger Woods.”
The real-life drama unfolded at 1 a.m. on March 23, 2003, while Womack was serving with the 101st Airborne division in Kuwait, and preparing for combat against Saddam Hussein in neighboring Iraq.
That night, Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar attacked his fellow soldiers with grenades, killing two officers and wounding 12 others.
Moments before The horror unfolded, Womack was watching the Bay Hill Invitational golf tournament on a tiny satellite TV in his tent.
“Tiger had a six-shot lead with nine holes to play,” Womack recalled in his memoir, “Embedded Enemy.”
“As I concentrated on Tiger’s swing and listened for the sweet THWACK of the ball, I heard the tent flap flutter and a scraping sound as something rolled toward me. It was almost as if Tiger’s ball had made it all the way into our own Kuwaiti sand trap.”
But the object that rolled into Womack’s tent was a hand grenade!
“It rolled between Tiger and me, resting at the tent’s edge,” Womack recalled. “Had I been sitting one inch to the left, or leaning forward, I may not have seen it landing only five feet away, shooting out sparks.
“I knew grenades took only five seconds to explode and I wasted two of them processing in my mind what was happening – I was about to die!”
Terrified, Womack sprinted across the tent to wake up a sleeping colonel. He later learned that the device was an incendiary grenade, designed to catch fire.
“The whole area was filled with thick, choking smoke and I yelled as loud as I could, ‘Ready – Go!’ ” recalled Womack, a 30-year Army veteran and winner of two Bronze Stars.
In the confusion, he didn’t hear a second grenade – a fragmentary grenade designed to explode – roll into the tent.
“It blew just as we started to run out of the tent. The incredible force knocked the colonel down and back- ward into his sleeping area,” said Womack.
“Miraculously I was able to make it out of that pitch-black, smoke-filled hellhole uninjured.” Womack later realized the fragmentary grenade had rolled just two feet away from where he would have been sleeping if he hadn’t been watching Tiger.
“Am I still a fan?” Womack said. “You better believe it! Thank you, Tiger.”