Tiger Woods

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Tiger Woods giving a driving demonstration aboard the USS George Washington.
Tiger Woods giving a driving demonstration aboard the USS George Washington.

Eldrick "Tiger" Woods (born December 30, 1975) is an American golfer who is considered one of the greatest golfers of all time. In 2005, at the age of 29, he won his tenth major golf championship, placing him third on the all time list behind Jack Nicklaus and Walter Hagen. Including his three U.S. Amateur Championship wins he and Bobby Jones are the only golfers to win thirteen majors before age 30. He has won more times on the PGA Tour than any other active golfer and he holds the PGA Tour record for most consecutive tournament cuts made with 142.

Woods, who is of mixed race, is credited with prompting a major surge of interest in the game of golf, especially among racial minorities and younger people in the United States.


Background and family

Woods is from a comfortable social background. He was born in Cypress, California. His father, Earl Woods, is a Vietnam War veteran and a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, of mixed African American, Caucasian, and Native American ancestry. He is now the chairman of his son's charitable Tiger Woods Foundation (see section Charity and youth projects below). Woods' mother Kultida Woods is originally from Thailand, and has mixed Thai and Chinese ancestry.

Woods' actual given name is Eldrick. He was given the nickname Tiger at birth after a Vietnamese war comrade of his father's and became generally known by that name. By the time he was achieving national prominence in amateur golf, he was always called Tiger Woods.

In 2004, Woods became engaged to Elin Nordegren, a Swedish model. They were introduced by Swedish golf star Jesper Parnevik, who had employed her as a nanny. They married in a sunset ceremony at the Sandy Lane Hotel and Golf Club on Barbados amid armed security before approximately 200 family and friends on October 5, 2004. They currently make their home in Windermere, a suburb of Orlando, Florida.

Amateur career

Woods was a child prodigy who began to play golf at age three. While still a small child, he demonstrated his golf skills in a television appearance with Mike Douglas. In 1984 he won the 9-10 boys' event at the Junior World Golf Championships. He was only eight years old, but 9-10 was the youngest age group at that time. He went on to win the U.S. Junior Amateur title in 1991, 1992 and 1993. He remains the youngest ever winner and the only multiple winner. He followed this with three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles the next three years. With his first US Amateur win in 1994, the year that he graduated high school, he became the youngest man ever to win that event. His five USGA Championships before age 20 qualify him for consideration as the greatest golfer of all time under age 20. He attended Stanford University and won one NCAA individual championship. Woods decided to leave Stanford after two years because he believed he was ready to succeed as a professional.

Professional career

Woods became a professional golfer in August 1996 playing his first round of professional golf at the Greater Milwaukee Open (GMO). He won two events in the three months of the 1996 season that he played as a professional. The following April he won The Masters by a record margin of 12 shots, and he has been by far the highest profile golfer in the world since then. In the summer of 1997 Woods went to number one in the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time.

Woods formed a close friendship with leading PGA Tour professional Mark O'Meara, who was almost twenty years his senior. O'Meara acted as a mentor to him for a time, and the two men won the World Cup together. The inspiration of working closely with a brilliant young talent was widely regarded as a catalyst for O'Meara's own career year in 1998, when he won the only two majors of his career.

Despite suggestions that the other players would only be competing for second place from now on, Woods' form began to fade in the second half of 1997, and in 1998 he only won once on the PGA Tour. At this time he was working on modifications to his swing to adapt to the maturation of his physique, and to address concerns that the extremely vigourous and elastic swing he had used in his youth might cause him back problems in the long term and truncate his career. Woods was careful to avoid using this as an excuse and instead responded to questions about his wavering form with reminders that he was still very young, and was hoping to do better in the future.

In June 1999, Woods won the Memorial Tournament. This was the beginning of a sustained period of dominance of men's golf. He won seventeen PGA Tour events in two calendar years, and 32 in five, both of those achievements that hadn't been rivaled for several decades, and golf in Woods' era is generally seen as having much more depth than in earlier periods. He won seven out of eleven major championships starting with the 1999 PGA Championship and finishing with the 2002 U.S. Open. His 2001 Masters win marked the only time anyone had ever won four consecutive majors, a feat which became known as the Tiger Slam. He broke Old Tom Morris' record for the largest victory margin ever in a major championship, which had stood since 1862, with his 15-shot win in the 2000 U.S. Open. In the 2000 British Open he set the record for lowest score to par, -19, in any major tournament and holds at least a share of the record in all four major championships for lowest score to par. His adjusted scoring average of 67.79 in 2000 was the lowest in PGA TOUR history, exceeding his 68.43 average in 1999. His actual scoring average of 68.17 in 2000 was the lowest in PGA TOUR history, exceeding the 68.33 average by Byron Nelson in 1945.

The next phase of Woods' career saw him remain among the top competitors on the tour, but lose his dominating edge. He did not win a major in 2003 or 2004, and fell to second in the PGA Tour money list in 2003 and to fourth on 2004. In September 2004, Woods' record streak as the world's top-ranked golfer - 264 consecutive weeks - came to an end at the Deutsche Bank Championship when Vijay Singh won the tournament and overtook Woods in the rankings. No one has held the number one ranking more total weeks than Woods. At around this time Woods let it be known that he was once again working on changes to his swing, and hoped that once the adjustments were complete he would get back to his best.

At the start of the 2005 PGA Tour season, Woods returned to his winning ways. On 6 March he won the Ford Championship at Doral and returned to number one in the Official World Golf Rankings, but just two weeks later, Singh displaced him once again. On 10 April, Woods broke his "drought" in the majors by winning the 2005 Masters in a tie-breaking playoff, which also assured him of returning to number one in the World Rankings once again. Singh and Woods swapped the Number 1 position several times over the next couple of months, but by early July Woods had established a substantial advantage, propelled further by a victory in The (British) Open Championship for his 10th major. He went on to win six official money events on the PGA Tour in 2005, and topped the money list for the sixth time in his career.

To date, Woods has won 46 official money events on the PGA Tour and 15 other professional titles. He is one of only five players (along with Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player) in the history of golf to have won all four professional major championships in his career. With his win in the 2005 Open Championship, he became only the second golfer, after Nicklaus, to have won all four majors more than once. At the 2003 TOUR Championship, he set an all-time record for most consecutive cuts made with 114 (passing Byron Nelson's previous record of 113), and extended this mark to 142 before it ended on May 13, 2005 at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. The streak started in 1998[1]. Many commentators consider this one of the most remarkable golf accomplishments of all time, given the margin by which he broke the old record (and against much stronger fields than those in Nelson's day) and given that during the streak, the next longest streak by another player was usually only in the 10s or 20s.

Woods won the "World Sportsman of the Year" award at the Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000 and 2001. He is the only two-time winner as an individual of Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year" award (1996, 2000).

An interesting fact about Tiger is that he always wears a red shirt on the final round of every tournament in which he plays. According to his mother's religion, the color red symbolizes power. He also puts tape on his middle and ring fingers, not for medical reasons, but for superstitions.

Woods' golf game

Woods balanced backswing as photographed at St Andrews in 2005
Woods balanced backswing as photographed at St Andrews in 2005

When Woods burst onto the golf scene, one of the things which made the biggest impact on fans was his long driving. However, he refused to upgrade his technology while other players caught up to him during the 2002-2003 seasons on the PGA Tour. During 2004, Woods finally upgraded his driver technology and, as of 2005, he is back in his place as one of the very longest hitters on the PGA Tour. Despite his length advantage, he has always focused on developing an excellent all-around game. His driving is generally accurate, his approach play accurate, his recovery and bunker play sometimes brilliant, and his putting is usually reliable. He is largely responsible for a shift to higher standards of athleticism amongst professional golfers, and is known for putting in more hours of practice than most.

Early in his professional career Woods worked with the leading swing coach Butch Harmon, but since he has been coached by the less-heralded Hank Haney. He was involved in a media spat with Harmon, who also works as a golf broadcaster, when Harmon suggested that he was in "denial" about the problems in his game, but they publicly patched up their differences.

Although he is considered charismatic, Woods' approach is essentially cautious. He aims for consistency: although he is better than any other golfer when he is in form, his dominance comes not from having best rounds that are better than the other leading professionals' bests, but from having fewer bad rounds. He plays fewer tournaments than most professionals (twenty or twenty one a year compared to the typical twenty five to thirty), and focuses his efforts on preparing for and competing in the majors and the most prestigious of the other tournaments.

Major Championships

Woods' major championship victories are as follows:

With his victory in The Masters in 2001, he became the only man to have held all four professional majors at once, although this did not occur in a calendar year, and is therefore not recognized by some as a true Grand Slam. The achievement has been nicknamed "The Tiger Slam".

Woods holds at least a share of the record for lowest 72-hole score in relation to par in all four majors, and at least a share of the low-72 holes record in two of them. The "to par" and "low 72-holes" records are not always the same because while most championship golf course have a par of 72, or 288 for four rounds, some have a par of 71 or 70:

  • The Masters: -18 (270), 1997 (outright to-par and low 72 holes record)
  • US Open: -12 (272), 2000 (outright to par record)
  • The Open Championship: -19 (269), 2000 (outright to-par record)
  • PGA Championship: -18 (270), 2000 (to-par record shared with Bob May)
    • David Toms holds the low 72-holes record at 265.

The above performances have also given him the record victory margin in two majors:

  • The Masters: 12 strokes, 1997
  • US Open: 15 strokes, 2000 (record for all majors)

Tiger also is one of the few players to have finished in the Top 5 and Top 10 in All 4 Majors in a year. He has done this twice, first in 2000 and then in 2005.


Tournament 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
The Masters T41 CUT 1 T8 T18 5 1 1 T15 T22 1
U.S. Open WD T82 T19 T18 T3 1 T12 1 T20 T17 2
The Open Championship T68 T22 T24 3 T7 1 T25 T28 T4 T9 1
PGA Championship DNP DNP T29 T10 1 1 T29 2 T39 T24 T4

DNP = did not play
WD = withdrew
CUT = missed the half way cut
"T" indicates a tie for a place.

PGA TOUR career summary

Year Majors Other wins PGA TOUR wins Earnings ($) Money list rank
1996 0 2 2 790,594 24
1997 1 3 4 2,066,833 1
1998 0 1 1 1,841,117 4
1999 1 7 8 6,616,585 1
2000 3 6 9 9,188,321 1
2001 1 4 5 6,687,777 1
2002 2 3 5 6,912,625 1
2003 0 5 5 6,673,413 2
2004 0 1 1 5,365,472 4
2005 2 4 6 10,628,024 1
Career* 10 36 46 55,770,760 1st

* Complete to the end of the 2005 season. Next official money tournament January 2006.

Woods was only a professional for around one third of the 1996 season. In addition to his PGA Tour wins, he has won a number of events on professional tours outside North America, and several professional events which were not part of an official tour schedule.

Woods makes most of his income from endorsement contracts and is the highest earning sportsman in the world. In 2005, Forbes estimated his annual income at $87 million [2].

PGA Tour wins

Major championships are shown in bold.

Other professional wins

National team appearances



Charity and youth projects

Tiger Woods has established several charitable and youth projects.

  • The Tiger Woods Foundation: The Tiger Woods Foundation was established in 1996 by Tiger Woods and his father Earl. It focuses on projects for children. Initially these comprised golf clinics (aimed especially at disadvantaged children), and a grant program. Further activities added since then include university scholarships, an association with Target House at St. Jude Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee; the Start Something character development program, which had had over one million participants by 2003; and the Tiger Woods Learning Center.
  • Tiger Woods Learning Center: This is a 35,000 square foot (3,000 m²) educational facility due to open in Anaheim, California in 2005. It is expected to be used by several thousand students each year, with a day program for grades 4 to 6 and an after school program for grades 7 to 12. There will also be summer programs, weekend and community outreach programs and online learning programs. The center's website states, "Our mission is to provide an interactive enrichment program that will improve individual aptitude in reading, math, science and technology". The centre will feature extensive multi-media facilities and an outdoor golf teaching area.
  • Tiger Jam: An annual fundraising concert. 2005's Tiger Jam VIII was headlined by Stevie Wonder and Counting Crows.
  • Target World Challenge: An annual off-season charity golf tournament. The event also carries generous prize money, but Woods donates his winnings to his foundation.
  • Tiger Woods Foundation National Junior Golf Team: An eighteen member team which competes in the annual Junior World Golf Championships.


Early in Woods' career a small number of golf experts expressed concern about his impact on the competitiveness and thus the public appeal of professional golf. This issue was most prominent in around 2001-02 when he was at his most dominant game level. "The question has been asked, seriously, and more than once: Isn't Tiger Woods actually bad for golf?" - commented Bill Lyon of Knight-Ridder, before going on to argue that he wasn't [3]. At first, some feared that Woods could drive all spirit of competition out of the game of golf, by obsoleting existing courses, and having no competitors. However, Woods was unable to keep up the winning streak, and the increases in television ratings and prize money which have occurred since Woods arrived on the golf scene have discredited the negative view of his impact on the game. As of 2005 it is no longer heard. The mainstream view is that Woods' success is one of the most positive things that has ever happened to golf.

Woods has also been mentioned in relation to certain wider controversies, including the debate about the role of sport in the aspirations of American youth, especially African American youth, which some consider to be unhealthy. Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune decried the "racially charged, money-linked sports obsession" fueled by a "fixation in which the riches and fame of such sports heroes as Michael Jordan have caused a wildly disproportionate number of young black Americans, in particular, to focus on the brass ring of professional sports at the expense of more realistic and productive career paths." Woods dropped out of Stanford after two years to pursue his golf career. Page wrote, "That works out fine for his bank account, but, for too many others it only reinforces the wrongheaded notion that academics should take a back seat to athletics." Others see the inclusion of Woods in this debate as inappropriate, arguing that his main responsibility was to make the right decision for his own career, that he had the backing of his parents, who are certainly not feckless, and that subsequent events suggest he timed his entry to professional golf appropriately. As mentioned above he has funded university scholarships and is founding a learning centre.

Some activists have criticised him on certain social and environmental issues. Some of these criticisms concern golf in general, and the mention of Woods is a device to attract publicity by utilising the name of a top celebrity. Specific criticisms of things he has done personally have included those of his endorsement of an SUV (the 2002 Buick Rendezvous) deemed second-most-dangerous by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and of mutual funds which do not meet certain activists' ethical investment criteria. The publicity which activists are able to attract for their views about an individual are proportionate to the individual's fame, so it could be considered that this negative publicity says little about Woods' personal ethics relative to those of other golfers, or of members of the general public.

See also

External links

Official World Golf Rankings | World No. 1's in Men's golf since 1986.
Severiano Ballesteros | Fred Couples | David Duval | Ernie Els | Nick Faldo | Bernhard Langer | Tom Lehman | Greg Norman | Nick Price | Vijay Singh | Tiger Woods † | Ian Woosnam
Tiger Woods (USA) is the current World No. 1, and has spent most weeks in that position, currently over 350.
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