Tiger Woods makes surprise visit to namesake learning center at Port Salerno school

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla.— Golfer Tiger Woods capped a week he started by winning his first tournament in more than two years by checking in on another success: the Tiger Woods Learning Center at Murray Middle School.

Woods made an unpublicized visit to the program Friday afternoon, visiting with students, teachers and administrators and taking part in a forensics class as sixth- and seventh-graders in the program demonstrated fingerprinting to an eighth-grade science class.

"At first none of the students knew who he was," Principal Kit Weir said, "and then one kid recognized him and shouted, 'That's Tiger Woods!' Then they all started screaming."

Greg McLaughlin, president and CEO of the Tiger Woods Foundation, said he wasn't sure if Woods was fingerprinted.

"I'm really excited to bring a learning center campus to Stuart," Woods said in a statement released by the foundation. "This is the second time I've taken our forensics class. I really enjoy it, and so do the kids. It has gotten rave reviews from our students in Anaheim (Calif., site of the flagship Tiger Woods Learning Center) for the last five years, so it was a perfect fit for this campus. It's unique, gets kids fired up about science and helps them explore careers in the field."

McLaughlin said Woods, who recently finished building a $50 million home on Jupiter Island, was able to arrange the visit because of a break in his schedule.

On Sunday the golfer birdied the final two holes to win the Chevron World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif., by a single stroke. It was his first tournament win since taking the Australian Masters on Nov. 15, 2009.

The two-hour visit was unannounced, McLaughlin added, because Woods "was interested in meeting the kids and seeing how the program was working" rather than making it a media event.

"He was very excited about the visit," McLaughlin said. "And the kids were very excited to see him. Kids were all engaged as he walked through the hallways. Some came up and shook his hand. It was a great experience. I think he was thrilled."

Weir said Woods "was so wonderful with the children. He's just a class act, a kind, warmhearted man."

McLaughlin said Woods also talked with Weir about possibly expanding the after-school program.

"The idea is to keep expanding, keep adding to it," he said.

Weir said the foundation helped prepare an empty classroom for the after-school facility and donated laptop computers, microscopes and other equipment for the program.

About 50 sixth- and seventh-graders are in the program, which is led by science teachers Elizabeth Lynch and Julie Kirsh.

The school district is not responsible for any of the costs.

McLaughlin said Woods is "very interested in the school. He'll definitely go back at some point to see what's happening."

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