LOS ANGELES: Tiger Woods wrote a personal letter of support to a schoolboy who contemplated suicide because of a stutter, saying “I know what it’s like to be different and not fit in”.
In the letter, published by Golf Digest magazine on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), Woods revealed he too had suffered with a speech impediment and gave the boy encouragement to overcome bullying.
“I also stuttered as a child and I would talk to my dog and he would sit there and listen until he fell asleep. I also took a class for two years to help me, and I finally learned to stop,” Woods wrote
The boy, identified only as Dillon, quit his high school football team after being teased and bullied and his mother then wrote to LPGA tour player Sophie Gustafson of Sweden, who has had to cope with a stutter throughout her career, saying she had only just prevented him jumping to his death from his bedroom window last month.
Gustafson shared the letter, which also mentioned that Dillon was a fan of Woods, with Golf Digest who printed it last week.
Gustafson then tweeted on Sunday, just days after the article appeared: “Thanks so much @TigerWoods for sending my friend Dillon a letter. He got so happy! It’s being framed and hanged. #class.”
Woods told Dillon he had to deal with many barriers as a child, such as being the only black player in the field.
“But I didn’t let that stop me, and I think it even inspired me to work harder,” he wrote. “I know you can do that too. You have a great family, and big fans like me on your side. Be well and keep fighting. I’m certain you’ll be great at anything you do.”
Dillon told Golf Digest: “On Saturday, I got a letter from Tiger! He told me that he used to stutter too.
“I hope that maybe one other person out there that is also having struggles, will hear my story and realize suicide is not the answer.”
News of the letter came out just a week after the 14-time major winner endured a high-profile split from girlfriend and US Olympic ski star Lindsey Vonn amid media reports of infidelity by Woods.