Warren Buffett lost a bet to Tiger Woods on the golf course. The investor saved face with a clever turn of phrase.

Warren Buffett lost a bet to Tiger Woods on the golf course. The investor saved face with a clever turn of phrase.
Warren Buffett, Tiger Woods, and Tom Mendoza.Tom Mendoza
  • Warren Buffett lost to Tiger Woods despite the golfer kneeling while playing.
  • Buffett joked afterward that he brought Woods "to his knees."
  • Buffett lost their $5 bet, but demanded 50 cents back for his cut as caddie.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Warren Buffett lost a bet with Tiger Woods on the golf course. However, the billionaire investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO salvaged his dignity with a clever turn of phrase.

Tom Mendoza, the former president of NetApp, marked the 20th anniversary of the episode by recounting it in a LinkedIn post. Mendoza attended a charity auction in February 2001, where the final lot was a trip to Florida via private jet for a round of golf with Tiger Woods.

As the bids climbed, Buffett announced he would caddie for the winner. Mendoza couldn't resist that proposition, so he made the winning bid of $650,000 and flew to Florida the following month.

True to his word, Buffett showed up at the first hole in a white caddie jumpsuit, Greg McLaughlin, the president of the Tiger Woods Foundation at the time, commented on Mendoza's post. The business tycoon caddied for the group for all 18 holes, he added.

Mendoza recalled Woods made a bet with Buffett at the final hole. "For $5, I'll play you on my knees," the golfer said.


Buffett agreed and used one of Mendoza's clubs to hit a mediocre shot. Woods, while kneeling, drove his ball 250 yards down the middle of the fairway. Buffett hit his second shot into the water.

"He looked at Tiger (still on his knees in the middle of the fairway) with the 'I'm 71, haven't played all day, how about a mulligan' look," Mendoza said. Woods refused to give him a do-over, reached the putting green with his next shot, and took Buffett's money, the tech executive added.

Buffett framed his loss differently when he spoke to his right-hand man, Charlie Munger, on the plane ride home with Mendoza. When Munger asked how the round with Woods went, Buffett replied, "On 18, I brought him to his knees."

The Berkshire chief added another detail when he told the story to CBS News. After Woods won their bet, Buffett handed him $5 but reminded the golfer of a key fact.

"The caddie gets 10% of your winnings, so give me 50 cents back," he quipped.