ENGLAND’S own golfing Tiger is set to roar when he makes his debut alongside the professionals at the British Masters tomorrow.
Robin Tiger Williams, the top ranked 16-year-old in Europe, has been handed a special invitation into an event that includes Masters champion Sergio Garcia and three former world No 1s in Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer.
He actually has more in common with four-time Major winner McIlroy than Woods — Rory also made his European Tour debut in this event as a 16- year-old amateur 12 years ago.
But Williams is proud of his Tiger connection — although he could just as easily have been named after a cricketing great instead.
He said: “My father was a big fan of cricket and golf and he actually thought about making Sachin my middle name, because Tendulkar was his other sporting hero.
“But I’m glad he settled on Tiger. I was born the year he completed the Tiger Slam, winning all four Majors in a row, so I think that made my dad’s mind up.
“It’s a perfect fit the way things have turned out.
“The first time my dad put a club in my hand when I was about 18- months-old I was bitten by the golf bug.
“But I hope people don’t try to compare me with Tiger, because the only thing we’ve got in common is the name, although he is my idol.
“I have never actually met him or been to a tournament where he’s played. But I’ve watched the DVDs and I would love to have been there when he was winning all those Majors.
“I don’t hit the ball miles like him – I average about 280 yards off the tee, although that should improve as I grow older. And I’m pretty straight.
“I also tend to rely on my short game a lot and hopefully it will be good this week.”
His entry into the golfing big time marks another big step towards an ambitious target he mapped out with his dad as an eight-year-old — to win The Open before he turns 20!
Williams said: “My dad brought home a small replica of the Claret Jug with ‘Open Champion 2020’ printed on it.
“The plan was I would try to be good enough to make it into the field for that one and to try to win it.
“I keep looking at it and I treat it as a massive motivation.
“It would be amazing to be there in three years’ time. But I’m not in any hurry to turn professional — I want to go to college in America and I’m going to sit my exams in a couple of months, their equivalent of GCSEs.
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“I’ve been home schooled because I have to fit my studies around golf.
“My parents want me to have a good education so I’ve got something to fall back on if golf doesn’t work out and I agree with them.”
Williams’ family moved from South Africa to Britain when he was just three-weeks-old.
Father Morne said: “I can tell you there would not have been those chances for Cape coloured, which we are classed as, back there.
“Robin doesn’t understand apartheid because he never went through it, but I tell him this is an amazing dream and you just to have run with it.”
Williams, who turned 16 a week ago, has been running it since he started winning big titles as an 11-year-old.
He spent a couple of years in the United States on a scholarship programme and won four American Junior Golf Association events.
He has not set any big targets this week, adding: “I’ve played in the pro-am for this event for the past two years, first with Victor Dubuisson and then with Shane Lowry, so hopefully that will help with my nerves.
“But it’s another massive step to play competitively in front of big crowds and the TV cameras.
“I haven’t set myself any other ambitions, like making the cut or anything. I’m just determined to learn as much as I can this week, and to enjoy every minute of it.”
Sky Sports’ dedicated golf channel will show all four days of the British Masters exclusively live.
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