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Wish comes true for a Tiger fan

November 30, 1999|By PEPPER BALLARD

WILLIAMSPORT ? Tiger Woods expects to see Broadfording Christian Academy golfer Jordan Anthony on the PGA Tour someday.

At least that's what Woods wrote on the 18-year-old's golf shirt Tuesday when the two men met in Tucson, Ariz., through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Anthony, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, made his wish to meet Woods when he was 15. The high school senior was supposed to meet the golf star in Las Vegas three years ago, but Woods' schedule prevented it.

"What can you do. He's Tiger Woods, and I'm Jordan Anthony," he said with a laugh.

Nevertheless, Anthony was happy with the 10 minutes he spent Tuesday with Woods. Anthony approached Woods as he was finishing his lunch and getting ready to practice for the World Golf Championships Accenture Match Play Championship.

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Anthony said his mind went blank in the time he spoke with his golf hero.

"I said I wanted to be on the PGA Tour," Anthony said, recalling the conversation. "He said, 'Oh, are you going to kick my butt?' and I said, 'Hopefully. That's the plan.'"

Woods and Anthony's family were photographed together after the short conversation. Woods signed Anthony's high school golf shirt, then went off to practice.

Anthony, who had played a complimentary 14 holes of golf that morning, got to watch golfers practice for the big match, see a Jack Nicklaus press conference and eat with the media. He saw a major network announcer drive by him on a golf cart and an international golf professional fixing a club while sitting inside a Nike trailer. Anthony was interviewed by reporters for Sports Illustrated and the Arizona Daily Star.

On Wednesday, he watched the tournament.

"I couldn't ask for more," Anthony said.

Anthony said he has "no new wishes," just a new dream.

"This trip has only fueled my desire to get to the tour," Anthony said.

Anthony was diagnosed as an infant with cystic fibrosis, a genetic, life-threatening disease that causes mucus to build up in his lungs. He weighed less than 12 pounds on his first birthday.

"For the first half of his life, we didn't think he would live," said his mother, Joyce Anthony.

Jordan Anthony also had unrelated respiratory problems that complicated matters, she said.

Over the past few years, however, Jordan has been healthy aside from an occasional sickness.

"We're one of the few families who got to do Make-A-Wish with someone who's healthy," Joyce Anthony said. "For some families, that's the last thing they do together."

Jordan Anthony regularly gets checked by doctors. He takes several pills and vitamins, and uses a nebulizer and special vest that helps loosen excess mucus.

"I'm healthier than some normal adults," he said. "I know I'm healthier than a smoker."

His golfing is not inhibited by his disease except when the humidity is high, which makes it harder on his lungs. Anthony, who has a 10 handicap, shot his best game at Black Rock when he shot 76, he said.

Anthony started playing golf when he was 12 years old, and has been a fan of Woods ever since.

"I like that he's so focused when he plays," Anthony said. "He's just the best player in the world. He's just exciting to watch."

He called Woods "down-to-Earth," and said he felt like he knew him.

"I try to copy everything he does, just from trying to keep my posture straight from when I swing ..." Anthony said, then grabbed a golf club. He then showed how he bends his legs and makes sure he is properly aligned all the way through the swing.

He's nicked the ceiling on his family's Williamsport living room a couple of times while practicing.

Anthony hopes to attend a Florida college where he would study golf, course management and course design.

"I want a chance to beat Tiger," Anthony said. "I want to be the best golfer in the world."

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