Photo reprint of Tiger Woods from the cover of SPORT magazine, July 2000
Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods (born December 30, 1975) is an American professional golfer who is among the most successful golfers of all time. He has been one of the highest-paid athletes in the world for several years.
Following an outstanding amateur and two-year college golf career, Woods turned professional at age 20 in late summer 1996. By April 1997 he had already won his first major, the 1997 Masters, in a record-breaking performance, winning the tournament by 12 strokes and pocketing $486,000. He first reached the number one position in the world rankings in June 1997. Through the 2000s, Woods was the dominant force in golf, spending 264 weeks from August 1999 to September 2004 and 281 weeks from June 2005 to October 2010 as World Number One.
From December 2009 to early April 2010, Woods took leave from professional golf to focus on his marriage after he admitted infidelity, but he and his wife Elin Nordegren eventually divorced. His many extramarital indiscretions were revealed by several different women, through many worldwide media sources. This was followed by a loss of golf form, and his ranking gradually fell to a low of No. 58 in November 2011. He ended a career-high winless streak of 107 weeks when he triumphed in the Chevron World Challenge in December 2011. After winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 25, 2013, he ascended to the No.1 ranking once again, holding the top spot until May 2014. Woods had back surgery in April 2014 and September 2015 and has struggled since to regain his dominant form. By March 29, 2015, Woods had fallen to #104, outside of the top 100 for the first time since the week prior to his first Tour title win in 1996. In May 2016, Woods dropped out of the world top 500 for the first time in his professional career.
Woods has broken numerous golf records. He has been World Number One for the most consecutive weeks and for the greatest total number of weeks of any golfer. He has been awarded PGA Player of the Year a record eleven times, the Byron Nelson Award for lowest adjusted scoring average a record eight times, and has the record of leading the money list in ten different seasons. He has won 14 professional major golf championships, the second-highest of any player (Jack Nicklaus leads with 18), and 79 PGA Tour events, second all time behind Sam Snead, who had 82 wins. He has more career major wins and career PGA Tour wins than any other active golfer. He is the youngest player to achieve the career Grand Slam, and the youngest and fastest to win 50 tournaments on tour. Additionally, Woods is only the second golfer (after Nicklaus) to have achieved a career Grand Slam three times. Woods has won 18 World Golf Championships, and won at least one of those events in each of the first 11 years after they began in 1999. Woods and Rory McIlroy are the only golfers to win both The Silver Medal and The Gold Medal at The Open Championship.
Background and family
Woods was born in Cypress, California, to Earl (1932–2006) and Kultida (Tida) Woods (born 1944). He is the only child of their marriage; however, he does have two half-brothers, Earl Jr. (born 1955) and Kevin (born 1957), and a half-sister, Royce (born 1958) from the 18-year marriage of Earl Woods and his first wife, Barbara Woods Gray.
Kultida (née Punsawad), originally from Thailand (where Earl had met her on a tour of duty in 1968), is of mixed Thai, Chinese, and Dutch ancestry. Earl, a retired lieutenant colonel and Vietnam War veteran, was of mostly African American and traces of European descent. Earl’s mother Maude Carter was of light skin. Some suggest possible Native American and Chinese ancestry. Tiger refers to his ethnic make-up as “Cablinasian” (a syllabic abbreviation he coined from Caucasian, Black, American Indian, and Asian).
Woods’ first name, Eldrick, was coined by his mother because it began with “E” (for Earl) and ended with “K” (for Kultida). His middle name Tont is a traditional Thai name. He was nicknamed Tiger in honor of his father’s friend Col. Vuong Dang Phong, who had also been known as Tiger.
Woods has a niece, Cheyenne Woods, who played for Wake Forest University’s golf team and turned professional in 2012, making her pro debut in the LPGA Championship.
Early life and amateur golf career
Woods grew up in Orange County, California. He was a child prodigy, introduced to golf before the age of two, by his athletic father Earl, a single-figure handicap amateur golfer who had been one of the earliest African-American college baseball players at Kansas State University. In 1978, Tiger putted against comedian Bob Hope in a television appearance on The Mike Douglas Show. At age three, he shot a 48 over nine holes over the Cypress Navy course, and at age five, he appeared in Golf Digest and on ABC’s That’s Incredible. Before turning seven, Tiger won the Under Age 10 section of the Drive, Pitch, and Putt competition, held at the Navy Golf Course in Cypress, California. In 1984 at the age of eight, he won the 9–10 boys’ event, the youngest age group available, at the Junior World Golf Championships. He first broke 80 at age eight. He went on to win the Junior World Championships six times, including four consecutive wins from 1988 to 1991.
Woods’ father Earl wrote that Tiger first defeated him at the age of 11 years, with Earl trying his best. Earl lost to Tiger every time from then on. Woods first broke 70 on a regulation golf course at age 12.
Woods’ first major national junior tournament was the 1989 Big I, when he was 13 years old. Woods was paired with pro John Daly, then relatively unknown, in the final round; the event’s format placed a professional with each group of juniors who had qualified. Daly birdied three of the last four holes to beat Woods by only one stroke. As a young teenager, Woods first met Jack Nicklaus in Los Angeles at the Bel-Air Country Club, when Nicklaus was performing a clinic for the club’s members. Woods was part of the show, and impressed Nicklaus and the crowd with his skills and potential. Earl Woods had researched in detail the career accomplishments of Nicklaus, and had set his young son the goals of breaking those records.
While attending Western High School in Anaheim at the age of 15, Woods became the youngest-ever U.S. Junior Amateur champion (a record which stood until it was broken by Jim Liu in 2010). He was named 1991’s Southern California Amateur Player of the Year (for the second consecutive year) and Golf Digest Junior Amateur Player of the Year. In 1992, he defended his title at the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, becoming the first multiple winner; competed in his first PGA Tour event, the Nissan Los Angeles Open (he missed the 36-hole cut); and was named Golf Digest Amateur Player of the Year, Golf World Player of the Year, and Golfweek National Amateur of the Year.
The following year, Woods won his third consecutive U.S. Junior Amateur Championship; he remains the event’s only three-time winner. In 1994, at the TPC at Sawgrass in Florida, he became the youngest-ever winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship, a record he held until 2008 when it was broken by Danny Lee. He was a member of the American team at the 1994 Eisenhower Trophy World Amateur Golf Team Championships (winning), and the 1995 Walker Cup (losing).
Woods graduated from Western High School in 1994 at age 18, and was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” among the graduating class. He had starred for the high school’s golf team under coach Don Crosby.
Woods overcame difficulties with stuttering as a boy. This was not known until he wrote a letter to a boy who contemplated suicide. Woods wrote, “I know what it’s like to be different and to sometimes not fit in. I also stuttered as a child and I would talk to my dog and he would sit there and listen until he fell asleep. I also took a class for two years to help me, and I finally learned to stop.”
College golf career
Woods was recruited very heavily by college golf powers and chose Stanford University, the 1994 NCAA Division I champions. He enrolled at Stanford in the fall of 1994 under a golf scholarship and won his first collegiate event, the 40th Annual William H. Tucker Invitational, that September. He selected a major in economics, and was nicknamed “Urkel” by college teammate Notah Begay III. In 1995, he successfully defended his U.S. Amateur title at the Newport Country Club in Rhode Island and was voted Pac-10 Player of the Year, NCAA First Team All-American, and Stanford’s Male Freshman of the Year (an award that encompasses all sports).
At age 19, Woods participated in his first PGA Tour major, the 1995 Masters Tournament, and tied for 41st as the only amateur to make the cut. At age 20 in 1996, he became the first golfer to win three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles and won the NCAA individual golf championship. In winning the silver medal as leading amateur at The Open Championship, he tied the record for an amateur aggregate score of 281. He left college after two years and turned professional. In 1996, Woods moved out of California, stating in 2013 that it was due to the state’s tax rate.
Woods turned pro in August 1996, and immediately signed advertising deals with Nike, Inc. and Titleist that ranked as the most lucrative endorsement contracts in golf history at that time. Woods was named Sports Illustrated’s 1996 Sportsman of the Year and PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. In April 1997, he won his first major, the Masters, in record-breaking fashion and became the tournament’s youngest-ever winner at age 21. Two months later, he set the record for the fastest-ever ascent to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings. After a lackluster 1998, Woods finished the 1999 season with eight wins, including the PGA Championship, a feat not achieved since 1974.
In 2000, Woods achieved six consecutive wins, the longest winning streak since Ben Hogan did it in 1948. One of these was the 2000 U.S. Open, where he broke or tied nine tournament records in what Sports Illustrated called “the greatest performance in golf history,” in which Woods won the tournament by a record 15-stroke margin and earned a check for $800,000. At age 24, he became the youngest golfer to achieve the Career Grand Slam. At the end of 2000, Woods had won nine of the twenty PGA Tour events he entered and had broken the record for lowest scoring average in tour history. He was named the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, the only athlete to be honored twice, and was ranked by Golf Digest magazine as the twelfth-best golfer of all time.
Woods’ victory in the 2001 Masters Tournament made him the first player to hold all four major professional golf titles at the same time, although not in the same calendar year. Following a stellar 2001 and 2002 in which Woods continued to dominate the tour, Woods’ career hit a “slump”. He did not win a major in 2003 or 2004. In September 2004, Vijay Singh overtook Woods in the Official World Golf Rankings, ending Woods’ record streak of 264 weeks at #1.
Woods rebounded in 2005, winning six official PGA Tour money events and reclaiming the top spot in July after swapping it back and forth with Singh over the first half of the year.
In 2006, Woods began dominantly, winning his first two PGA tournaments but failing to capture his fifth Masters championship in April. Following the death of his father in May, Woods took a nine-week hiatus from the tour and appeared rusty upon his return at the U.S. Open, where he missed the cut at Winged Foot. However, he quickly returned to form and ended the year by winning six consecutive tour events. At the season’s close, with 54 wins and 12 majors wins, Woods had broken the tour records for both total wins and total majors wins over eleven seasons.
Woods continued to excel in 2007 and the first part of 2008. In April 2008, he underwent knee surgery and missed the next two months on the tour. Woods returned for the 2008 U.S. Open, where he struggled the first day but ultimately claimed a dramatic victory over Rocco Mediate, after which Mediate said, “This guy does things that are just not normal by any stretch of the imagination,” and Kenny Perry added, “He beat everybody on one leg.” Two days later, Woods announced that he would miss the remainder of the season due to further knee surgery, and that his knee was more severely damaged than previously revealed, prompting even greater praise for his U.S. Open performance. Woods called it “my greatest ever championship.” In Woods’ absence, TV ratings for the remainder of the season suffered a huge decline from 2007.
Upon Woods’ much-anticipated return in 2009, he performed well, including a spectacular performance at the 2009 Presidents Cup, but failed to win a major, the first year since 2004 that he had not done so. After his marital infidelities came to light and received massive media coverage at the end of 2009 (see further details below), Woods announced in December that he would be taking an indefinite break from competitive golf. In February 2010, he delivered a televised apology for his behavior. During this period, several companies ended their endorsement deals with Woods.
Woods returned to competition in April at the 2010 Masters Tournament, where he finished in a tie for fourth place. He followed the Masters with poor showings at the Quail Hollow Championship and the Players Championship, where he withdrew in the fourth round citing injury. Shortly afterward, Hank Haney, Woods’ coach since 2003, resigned the position; he was replaced in August by Sean Foley. The rest of the season went badly for Woods, who failed to win a single event for the first time since turning professional, while nevertheless finishing the season ranked No. 2 in the world.
Woods’ performance continued to suffer in 2011, taking its toll on his ranking. After falling to No. 7 in March, he rebounded to No. 5 with a strong showing at the 2011 Masters Tournament, where he tied for fourth place.Due to leg injuries incurred at the Masters, he missed several summer events; in July he fired his longtime caddy Steve Williams (who was shocked by the dismissal), replacing him temporarily with friend Bryon Bell. After returning to tournament play in August, Woods continued to falter, and his ranking gradually fell to a low of #58. He rose to No. 50 in mid-November after a third-place finish at the Emirates Australian Open, and broke his winless streak with a victory at December’s Chevron World Challenge.
Woods began his 2012 season with two tournaments (the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am) where he started off well, but struggled on the final rounds. Following the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, where he was knocked out in the second round by missing a 5-foot putt, Woods revised his putting technique and tied for second at the Honda Classic, with the lowest final round score in his PGA Tour career. After a short time off due to another leg injury, Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his first win on the PGA Tour since the BMW Championship in September 2009. Following several dismal performances, Woods notched his 73rd PGA Tour win at the Memorial Tournament in June, tying Jack Nicklaus in second place for most PGA Tour victories; a month later, Woods surpassed Nicklaus with a win at the AT&T National, to trail only Sam Snead, who had 82 PGA wins.
The year 2013 would bring a return of Woods’ dominating play. He won the Farmers Insurance Open in January 2013 by four shots for his 75th PGA Tour win. It was the seventh time he had won the event. In March, he won the WGC-Cadillac Championship, also for the seventh time, giving him his 17th WGC title and first since 2009. Two weeks later, he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, winning the event for a record-tying 8th time. The win moved him back to the top of the world rankings. To commemorate that achievement, Nike was quick to launch an ad with the tagline “winning takes care of everything”.
On April 13, 2013, Woods was up for disqualification from the 2013 Masters Tournament over claims that he took an illegal drop after his third shot on the par-5 15th hole had bounced off of the pin and into the water. After further review, Woods was assessed a two-stroke penalty for the drop and was not disqualified. He finished tied for fourth in the event. Woods won The Players Championship in May 2013, his second career win at the event, notching his fourth win of the 2013 season. It was the quickest he had ever gotten to four wins in any season in his professional career.
Woods had a poor showing at the 2013 U.S Open as a result of an elbow injury sustained at The Players Championship. In finishing at 13-over-par, he recorded his worst score ever as a professional and finished 12 strokes behind winner Justin Rose. After a prolonged break because of the injury, during which he missed the Greenbrier Classic and his own AT&T National, he returned at the Open Championship at Muirfield. Despite being in contention all week and beginning the final round only two stokes behind Lee Westwood, he struggled with the speed of the greens and could only manage a 3-over-par 74 which left him tied for 6th place, five strokes behind eventual winner Phil Mickelson. Two weeks later, Woods returned to form at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, recording his 5th win of the season and 8th win at the event in its 15-year history. His second round 61 matched his record score on the PGA Tour and could easily have been a 59 were it not for some short missed birdie putts on the closing holes. This gave him a seven stroke lead which he held on to for the rest of the tournament. Woods would never contend at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club and would come short of winning a major for the 5th full season, only contending in two of the four majors in 2013.
After a slow start to 2014, Woods injured himself during the Honda Classic and was unable to finish, withdrawing after 13 holes of the final round citing back pain. He subsequently competed in the WGC-Cadillac Championship but was visibly in pain during much of the last round. He was forced to skip the Arnold Palmer Invitational at the end of March 2014 and on April 1 announced that he would miss the Masters Tournament for the first time since 1994 after undergoing a microdiscectomy. Woods returned at the Quicken Loans National in June, however he stated that his expectations for the week were low. He would struggle with nearly every aspect of his game and miss the cut. He next played at The Open Championship, contested at Hoylake, where Woods had won eight years prior. Woods fired a brilliant 69 in the first round to put himself in contention, but shot 77 on Friday and would eventually finish 69th. Despite his back pain, he played at the 2014 PGA Championship where he failed to make the cut. On August 25, 2014, Woods and his swing coach Sean Foley parted ways. In the four years under Foley, he won eight times but no majors. He had previously won eight majors with Harmon and six with Haney. Woods said there is currently no timetable to find a replacement swing coach.
On February 5, 2015, Woods withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open after another back injury. Woods stated on his website that it was unrelated to his previous surgery and was taking a break from golf until his back healed. He returned for the 2015 Masters Tournament, finishing in a tie for 17th. In the final round, Woods injured his wrist after his club hit a tree root. He later stated that a bone popped out of his wrist, but he adjusted it back into place and finished the round. Woods then missed the cut at the 2015 U.S. Open and Open Championship, the first time ever Woods missed the cut at consecutive majors, finishing near the bottom of the leaderboard both times. He finished tied for 18th at the Quicken Loans National on August 2. In late August 2015, Woods played quite well at the Wyndham Championship finishing the tournament at 13-under, only four strokes behind the winner, and tied for 10th place. Woods offered only a brief comment on the speculation that he was still recovering from back surgery, saying it was “just my hip” but offering no specifics.
In late March 2016, Woods announced that he would miss the Masters Tournament while recovering from a back surgery (microdiscectomy) that took place on September 16, 2015. (He had also missed the 2014 Masters due to a back problem.) “I’m absolutely making progress, and I’m really happy with how far I’ve come,” he explained in a statement. “But I still have no timetable to return to competitive golf.” However, he did attend the Masters Champions Dinner on April 5, 2016. For the first time in his career he missed all four majors in one year due to his back. In October 2016, he told Charlie Rose on PBS that he still wanted to break Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major titles. On December 1 2016, he made his return to competitive golf after 15 months out after back surgery in the Hero World Challenge.
On August 20, 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver announced that Woods would be inducted into the California Hall of Fame. He was inducted December 5, 2007 at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts in Sacramento.
He has been named “Athlete of the Decade” by the Associated Press in December 2009. He has been named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year a record-tying four times, and is the only person to be named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year more than once.
Since his record-breaking win at the 1997 Masters Tournament, golf’s increased popularity is commonly attributed to Woods’ presence. He is credited by some sources for dramatically increasing prize money in golf, generating interest in new PGA tournament audiences, and for drawing the largest TV ratings in golf history.both the Cy Young and MVP awards. He was the first Athletic to win the latter award since another pitcher, Bobby Shantz, in 1952 with what were then the Philadelphia Athletics. He also led the American League in complete games (24), shutouts (8) and earned run average (1.82). That season, the Athletics won the American League West title for the franchise’s first postseason berth since the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1931 World Series. He got off to a blistering start, going 10-1 when he linked up with Boston’s Sonny Siebert, who was 9-0, in a dramatic May matchup in Boston. The game was won by Siebert and the Red Sox 4-3, and remains what is considered one of the most dramatic games in Fenway Park history. He was the youngest American League player to win the MVP Award in the 20th century. He was the starting pitcher for the American League in the 1971 All-Star Game, and for the National League in the 1978 All-Star Game. In 1971 he became the only player ever to be a starting pitcher in the league opener (against the Washington Senators), the All-Star Game and the playoff opener (against the Baltimore Orioles) in the same season.
In 1971, he was on the covers of Sports Illustrated and Time magazine. In 1972, his success in baseball led Blue to a small role in the film Black Gunn, starring Jim Brown.
After Blue’s breakthrough season in 1971, he and Athletics owner Charlie Finley clashed over his salary. Blue held out, missing much of the year, and ended up with a 6–10 record. He didn’t make the Athletics’ post-season starting rotation, instead pitching mainly in relief. Against the Cincinnati Reds in the 1972 World Series he made four appearances, including a save in Game 1, a blown save in Game 4, and a loss in a spot-starting role in Game 6.
Blue returned to form to win 20 games in 1973, 17 games in 1974, and 22 games in 1975, as an integral member of the Oakland Athletics’ five straight American League Western Division pennants from 1971 to 1975, and three consecutive World Championships in 1972, 1973, and 1974. Perhaps his finest postseason performances were four innings of shutout relief work against the Detroit Tigers to save Game 5 of the 1972 American League Championship Series and a complete-game 1-0 shutout against the Orioles in Game 3 of the 1974 ALCS.
On September 28, 1975, Blue, Glenn Abbott, Paul Lindblad and Rollie Fingers combined to no-hit the California Angels 5-0. The no-hitter is, as of 2014, one of only four to be pitched on the final day of a regular season, the others being Mike Witt’s perfect game in 1984, Henderson Álvarez’s no-hitter in 2013, and Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter on September 28, 2014. Blue also became the first no-hit pitcher to also pitch in a combined no-hitter; he has since been joined by Chicago White Sox hurlers John ‘Blue Moon’ Odom and Francisco Barrios, the California Angels’ Mark Langston and Mike Witt, the Atlanta Braves’ Kent Mercker, Mark Wohlers, and Alejandro Peña, and Kevin Millwood and Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies.
In 1976, baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn vetoed an attempt by Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley to sell Blue to the New York Yankees, and in 1978, Kuhn cancelled a proposed trade of Blue to the Cincinnati Reds. In both instances, Kuhn said the trades would be bad for baseball because they would benefit already powerful teams without making them give up any significant talent in return. At the end of the 1976 season, nearly the entire A’s roster of star players from Oakland’s championship teams left with baseball’s new free agency, or were traded off by Finley, leaving Blue, who was still under contract with Oakland, to mentor a new team of primarily rookies and other young players. In 1978, Blue was traded to the San Francisco Giants.
In 1978, Blue won 18 games as he led the Giants to 89 wins and a third-place finish in the National League West Division, which was won by the Los Angeles Dodgers. His great year was rewarded as he won the Sporting News National League Pitcher of the Year. He, along with Chili Davis, were the last players before Ichiro Suzuki to wear their given name on the back of their uniforms instead of their surname, both having done so with the Giants.
Blue battled drug addiction over the course of his career. After the 1983 season, he and former teammates Willie Wilson, Jerry Martin and Willie Aikens pleaded guilty to attempting to purchase cocaine. In 1985, he testified in the Pittsburgh drug trials. His troubles with substance abuse seem to haunt this former great pitcher, as he faced multiple DUI charges in 2005.
Blue also made a name and career after baseball for himself in the San Francisco Bay Area by donating his time to many charitable causes, mostly promoting baseball in the inner city. In 1971, Blue accompanied Bob Hope on his USO Christmas tour of Vietnam and other military installations. Vida currently lives in San Francisco and is active in promoting the sport of baseball.
He is currently a baseball analyst for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, the TV home of the San Francisco Giants.