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Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Half man, half amazing, all fun

By Rick Reilly
ESPN.com

Andres Gonzales
Winning the U.S Open would be great, but what PGA Tour rookie Andres Gonzales really wants is for Tiger Woods to tweet him back.

One of Tiger Woods' best friends in the world is a PGA Tour rookie with a super Fu Manchu, a brown hair salad, and the build of a baby grand -- 220-pound Andres Gonzales.

The only problem is, Woods doesn't know it.

"@TigerWoods as you probably know, my birthday was this week. I believe you owe me a night around a camp fire with songs and smores. Ttfn [ta ta for now]," Gonzales tweeted on May 19, even though Woods wouldn't know Gonzales from your podiatrist.

"Been awake since 3 a.m.," Gonzales tweeted on May 14. "@TigerWoods you awake yet? Let's chat." They didn't.

Then there was … "Anybody have a pill that will give me six pack ABS while sitting my hotel room doing nothing @TigerWoods how you look like that?"

No reply.

Gonzales calls himself "Half Man, Half Amazing," but he doesn't have six-pack abs. It's doubtful he's seen his abs in years. But he does have something Woods doesn't: a tee-time Thursday in this especially open Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

When Gonzales qualified, he immediately tweeted, "@TigerWoods qualified for the open today. Hate to say I don't need a roommate because my family is coming. But I would be up for a p. round."

Then Woods withdrew with left knee and Achilles problems, meaning he'll miss the Open for the first time in 17 years, not to mention a chance to room with his cyber stalker.

Andres Gonzales/Kenny Powers
PGA Tour rookie Andres Gonzales is often mistaken for Danny McBride who plays Kenny Powers on the HBO television series "Eastbound and Down."

If "@TigerWoods" and "@Andres_Gonzales" ever do show up at the same tournament (Hey, Tiger, how about inviting The Gonzo to your AT&T National tournament on June 30?), Woods won't be able to miss him. Gonzales is a 28-year-old from Olympia, Wash., who looks like a tattoo parlor security guard. His Fu is annexing his face, his Fabio-length hair flows behind him like Dave Grohl's and his barrel chest is enough for triplets. Mirrored sunglasses hide green eyes and his belt buckle is engraved with his own face. He looks less like a PGA Tour player than he does Genghis Khan.

"Wrong," says Gonzales. "Mostly I get Kenny Powers. Everybody thinks I look like Kenny Powers. Some guy the other day, every time I hit a shot or a putt, was hollering, 'Kenny Powers Baby!'"

"Gonzo" is growing that mushroom cloud on his head for a reason, though. His father died of pancreatic cancer in 2007 so he's trying to get it long enough to donate to Locks of Love, which makes hair prosthetics for kids going through chemo.

How would your dad feel to see you on Tour, in the Open, and getting famous?

"He'd roll around in his grave," Gonzales says. "He'd look at my hair and go, 'You look like a clown!'"

This man is more fun than a boxful of puppies. At the Sony Open, he was an alternate hoping for a player -- any player -- to withdraw. So what did he do? He started bribing guys to quit -- with $1 bills. Incredibly, it didn't work.

This man is more fun than a boxful of puppies. At the Sony Open, he was an alternate hoping for a player -- any player -- to withdraw. So what did he do? He started bribing guys to quit -- with $1 bills. Incredibly, it didn't work.

This first year on tour for the ex-UNLV star wasn't working much, either, until June busted out. He'd made only three cuts in nine tries, but then he qualified for the Open in Tunica, Miss. And last week, he finished T-38 in Memphis and made $21,840, which was about $15,000 more than he made all year.

"What am I gonna do with it?" he says. "Give it to my wife, what else?"

Far beyond the 'do and the Fu and the boo, Gonzales is known for his hilarious tweets to Woods, whom he idolized as a youth and whom he twintroduced himself like so:

"@TigerWoods my name is andresgonzales and I am a rookie on tour. I like elephants."

One time he asked Tiger what his 40-yard-dash time was.

Another time he wondered why Tiger wouldn't tweet him back. "I think if you ever answer me you will realize I am way cooler than Jean Claude Van Dam?"

And then there was the admonishment: "@TigerWoods You missed out last night on the bowling!"

He hopes Woods isn't offended by them. Then again, he doesn't even know if Woods is aware of them. Or him. He just admires the famous Cablinasian so much that he decided he'd form a one-way public friendship with him. Love unrequited is still love.

"He's just done so much for golf," Gonzales says. "We need him back out here. We need him to come back out here and win, actually. The economy needs him to win!"

Now, whenever Gonzales finishes his round, other tour players ask him one question and one question only, and it's not "What'd you shoot?"

It's: "Did Tiger answer you yet?"

Answer: No.

"But I kind of hope he doesn't," Gonzales says. "I'm having too much fun with it the way it is."

Us, too.


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Rick Reilly is the 11-time National Sportswriter of the Year. He contributes essays and commentary to "SportsCenter" and ESPN/ABC golf and tennis coverage. He's also the host of "Homecoming," ESPN's unique, one-hour interview show set in the hometowns of legendary athletes. For more Rick, check out the archive.


Feel like taking a detour from sane sports? Try Rick's new book, "Sports from Hell."