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Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the second hole of the South Course at Torrey Pines during the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open on Sunday in San Diego. / AP photo by Denis Poroy

SAN DIEGO — Tiger Woods has heard just about everything over the years while playing before the biggest crowds in golf, and he tends to ignore it. Most puzzling was what he kept hearing Sunday along the back nine of the South Course at Torrey Pines.

"Do it for Mamba."

Only after Woods finished his final round of 2-under-par 70 to tie for ninth in the PGA Tour's Farmers Insurance Open did he realize what it meant. His caddie, Joe LaCava, told him as they walked to the scoring room that former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash.

Woods could be heard replying, "Excuse me?"

Such was the shock for Woods that he made a rare detour from his two media stops to sign autographs, presumably to collect his thoughts. Woods typically signs after he is done with his interviews.

"One of the most shocking, tragic days that I've ever been a part of," Woods said.

Bryant, who was 41, had invested himself in new ventures since his retirement after a 20-year NBA career. That included supporting women's sports and coaching daughter Gianna, 13, who also was killed in Sunday's crash, as were seven other people aboard the helicopter.

Bryant and Woods arrived on the national sports scene at roughly the same time in 1996. Woods won the first of his 82 titles on the PGA Tour on Oct. 6, 1996, at the Las Vegas Invitational. Bryant, after going straight from high school to the NBA, made his first appearance for the Lakers the following month.

Woods said they spent time together when he still had a home in Newport Beach, but they rarely connected after Woods moved to Florida.

"We really connected on more the mental side of it how much it takes to be prepared," Woods said. "For me, I don't have to react like he does in my sport, we can take our time. But you've still got to pay attention to the details, and that's what he did better than probably any other player in NBA history.

"That's where he and I really connected, because we're very similar. He came in the league and I turned pro right around the same time, and we had our 20-year run together. It's shocking."

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Tiger Woods smiles as he talks with announcer Mike Tirico before Game 4 of the 2009 NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the host Orlando Magic. Kobe Bryant was named MVP of the series after leading the Lakers to the title in six games. / AP photo by David J. Phillip

Most other players were not aware of the tragedy about two hours to the north during the round, including Rory McIlroy, a sports junkie who said he grew up idolizing Bryant. McIlroy, from Northern Ireland, said the 2000 NBA Finals was the series that led him to follow basketball.

"He was a pure master of what he did," McIlroy said. "That's just so sad."

For Woods, it was personal. He was a Lakers fan for as long as he can remember. Woods once told of how his late father would tell him that Magic Johnson would add a new shot to his repertoire every year. And along came Bryant, roughly the same age, and someone with whom he spent time.

"It's unbelievable, the reality that he's no longer here," Woods said.

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Tony Finau tees off on the fifth hole of the South Course at Torrey Pines during the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open on Saturday in San Diego. Finau was such a fan of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, the golfer's manager drove down from L.A. on Sunday to tell him the retired NBA star had been killed in a helicopter crash. / AP photo by Denis Poroy

Bryant meant so much to Tony Finau that the golfer's manager drove from Los Angeles to San Diego to tell him after the round. Finau wore golf shoes that were purple and gold in the first round of the FedEx Cup playoffs opener on Aug. 24, 2017, in honor of "Mamba Day" — 8/24 on the calendar, the two jersey numbers worn by Bryant.

Finau said he had some of the feelings he experienced from his mother dying in a car accident in 2011.

"The love of a mother is one that I think you can't replace, but to have some of those feelings come back when I heard the news makes me quite sad. I'll be mourning for him," Finau said. "I think the way to live a life that respects Kobe and that he would respect is to have the Mamba mentality. Maybe that's something that I need — work even harder at your craft and have more love for your craft — and maybe that's something that we all need."

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