Eldrick "Tiger" Woods (born December 30, 1975) is an American golfer whose achievements rank him among the most successful golfers in history. In 2006, at the age of 30, he won his 12th professional major golf championship and has more wins on the PGA Tour than any other active golfer. He is the only active golfer currently in the top 10 in career major wins and is 2nd on the all-time list behind Jack Nicklaus' 18 major wins.
Woods, who is multiracial, is credited with prompting a major surge of interest in the game of golf among minorities and young people in the United States.
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Woods was a child prodigy who began to play golf at age three. In an interview with 60 Minutes that aired on March 26, 2006, Woods explained that he suffered from a severe stuttering problem when he was younger. While still a small child, he demonstrated his golf skills in a television appearance on the Mike Douglas Show. In 1984, he won the 9-10 boys' event at the Junior World Golf Championships; Tiger was only eight years old at the time, but 9-10 was the youngest age group available. Tiger went on to win the Junior World Championships six times, including four consecutive wins from 1988-1991. Woods then won the U.S. Junior Amateur title in 1991, 1992, and 1993; he remains the event's youngest-ever winner. He followed this by becoming the only person to win three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles over the next three years. With his first US Amateur win in 1994 over Trip Kuehne, the year that he graduated from high school, he became the youngest player ever to win that event. His five USGA Championships before age 20 qualify him for consideration as having the greatest under-20 golf career of all time. He attended Stanford University and won one NCAA individual championship. In 1996, Woods decided to drop out of Stanford after two years, to pursue professional golf.
With the announcement "Hello World,"  Tiger Woods became a professional golfer in August 1996, playing his first round of professional golf at the Greater Milwaukee Open. He won two events in the next three months, and was named 1996's "Sportsman of the Year" by Sports Illustrated for the enormous impact he had on the game of golf even as a rookie. The following April, Woods won The Masters by a record margin of 12 strokes, and has been by far the highest-profile golfer in the world ever since. On 15 June 1997 , Woods rose to the number one spot in the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time, though he was quickly supplanted by Ernie Els, and then David Duval.
Woods has formed a close friendship with leading PGA Tour professional Mark O'Meara, though O'Meara is almost twenty years his senior. O'Meara acted as a mentor to Woods for a time, and the two men won the 1999 World Cup of Golf together. The inspiration of working closely with Tiger 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 one PGA Tour event. In June 1999, Woods won the Memorial Tournament, a victory that marked the beginning of perhaps the greatest sustained period of dominance in the history of men's golf. He would go on to win seventeen PGA Tour events in the two calendar years that followed, and 32 in the next five, both achievements that had not been rivaled in several decades. Also in late 1999, Tiger embarked on a record-setting streak of 264 consecutive weeks atop the Official World Golf Rankings. During the run, Woods won seven out of the eleven major championships, starting with the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah Country Club and finishing with the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. Woods 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 at Pebble Beach. In the 2000 British Open at St Andrews, Woods set the record for lowest score to par (-19) in any major tournament, and he holds at least a share of that record in all four major championships. His major championship streak was seriously threatened at the 2000 PGA Championship, however, when upstart Bob May went head-to-head with Woods on Sunday at Valhalla in Louisville, matching Tiger stroke-for-stroke. Woods only escaped with his third straight major on the second playoff hole, where he made par and May's roller-coaster putt to tie missed by mere inches. The next season, though, Woods went back to dominating: his 2001 Masters win marked the only time anyone had ever won four consecutive majors, a feat which has become known as the "Tiger Slam". His adjusted scoring average of 67.79 in 2000 was the lowest in PGA TOUR history, lower than his 68.43 average in 1999. His actual scoring average of 68.17 in 2000 was the lowest in PGA TOUR history, including Byron Nelson's 68.33 average 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 came to an end at the Deutsche Bank Championship in Norton, Massachusetts, when Vijay Singh won the tournament and overtook Woods in the rankings. Even though no one has held the number one ranking for more total weeks than Woods, many commentators were puzzled by Tiger's "slump," offering explanations that ranged from Tiger's rift with swing coach Butch Harmon to his recent marriage to Elin Nordegren. At the same time, Woods let it be known that he was once again working on changes to his swing—this time in hopes of reducing the wear and tear on his surgically-repaired left knee, which was subjected to severe stress in the 1998-2003 version of his swing. Again, Woods anticipated that once the adjustments were complete, he would return to his previous form.
During the 2005 PGA Tour season, Woods quickly returned to his winning ways. On March 6, he outdueled Phil Mickelson to win the Ford Championship at Doral, and returned to the Official World Golf Rankings' number one position in the process (though Singh displaced him once again two weeks later). On April 10, Woods finally broke his "drought" in the majors by winning the 2005 Masters in a tie-breaking playoff, which also assured him the number one spot in the World Rankings 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, a win that also gave him his 10th major. Tiger went on to win six official money events on the PGA Tour in 2005, topping the money list for the sixth time in his career. Woods' 2005 wins also included two at the World Golf Championships; he has won in 10 of his 19 career individual World Golf Championships appearances for an incredible 0.526 winning percentage.
For Woods, the year 2006 was markedly different than 2005 was. While he started out just as dominant (winning the first two tournaments he entered in 2006), and was in the hunt for his fifth Masters championship in April, Woods surprisingly never mounted a Sunday charge to defend his title at Augusta, allowing Phil Mickelson to take away his green jacket. Shortly thereafter (May 3), Woods' father/mentor/inspiration, Earl, died after a lengthy battle with prostate cancer. The loss was devastating to Tiger, who took a month-long hiatus from the PGA Tour to be with his family in the wake of Earl's death. When he finally returned for the 2006 U.S. Open, the rust was evident—he would eventually miss the cut at Winged Foot, the first time he had failed to qualify for the weekend at a major in his professional career. A tie for second at the Western Open just three weeks later went a long way toward silencing his doubters, though, and Tiger seemed ready to defend his British Open crown at Hoylake despite his grief. At the Open Championship, Woods would end up putting on a clinic in course management, clutch putting, and iron accuracy. Using almost exclusively long irons off the tee, Woods missed just four fairways all tournament long, and his score of -18 to par was just one off of his Major Championship record -19, set at St. Andrews in 2000. Naturally, the victory was an emotional one for Tiger, who dedicated his play to Earl's memory. Several weeks later, at the PGA Championship, Woods once again won in dominating fashion. He finished the tournament at -18 to par and added more records to his alread-impressive resume, including the largest margin of victory in the PGA Championship (5 strokes), becoming in the process the first golfer ever to win multiple majors in consecutive years. Woods now holds the scoring record (in relation to par) in all 4 majors (tied with Bob May in the PGA) and the margin of victory record as well in each if the four majors.
To date, Woods has won 51 official money events on the PGA Tour (becoming in 2006, at 30 years and 7 months old, the youngest ever to 50 wins), 18 other individual professional titles, and two team titles in the two-man WGC-World Cup. He owns the lowest career scoring average and the most career earnings of any player in PGA Tour history. Tiger 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 (known as the "Career Grand Slam"). 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 . 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 any other player was usually only in the 10s or 20s.
The only disappointment so far in Tiger's career has been his relatively poor performances in the Ryder cup, particularly in the team section of that competition. Some believe the pressure on Woods is too great at this competition and it is clear that he is not entirely comfortable with the event’s playing format. In his four previous Cup matches his record is a mediocre return of seven wins, 11 losses and two halves—not what you would expect of a man many regard as perhaps the greatest golfer ever.
Woods won the "World Sportsman of the Year" award at the Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000 and 2001. He is the only individual two-time winner of Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year" award (1996, 2000). In many experts' eyes, Tiger's career accomplishments through 2005 (remarkably, all before the age of 30) qualify him for consideration as the greatest golfer of all time.
When Woods burst onto the professional golf scene in 1996, one of the things that made the biggest impact on fans was his prodigious driving. However, when he refused to upgrade his technology in the following years (insisting upon the use of True Temper Dynamic Gold steel-shafted clubs and smaller steel clubheads that promoted accuracy over distance), many opponents caught up to him, a trend that became obvious during the 2002-2003 PGA Tour seasons -- Phil Mickelson even made a crack in 2003 about Tiger using "inferior equipment". During 2004, Woods finally upgraded his driver technology to a titanium clubhead and graphite shaft, which coupled with his prodigious clubhead speed to make him one of the Tour's lengthier players off the tee once again. He currently plays True Temper Dynamic Gold steel shafts in his irons and Grafalloy BiMatrx Prototype graphite shaft in his driver.
Despite his power advantage, Woods has always focused on developing an excellent all-around game. Although in recent years he has typically been near the bottom of the Tour rankings in driving accuracy , his iron play is generally as accurate as any player ever to play (including Jack Nicklaus), his recovery and bunker play is often brilliant (for example, his miraculous 30-foot chip-in at Augusta's 16th during the 2005 Masters), and his putting (especially under pressure) is possibly his greatest asset. 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 almost exclusively with leading swing coach Butch Harmon, but since March 2004, he has been coached by Hank Haney. In June 2004, Woods 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 one of the most charismatic figures in golf's history, Woods' approach is, at its core, cautious. He aims for consistency: although he is better than any other Tour player when he is in top form, his dominance comes not from posting extremely low rounds (though he has been known to do that from time to time), but rather from avoiding bad rounds. To illustrate, the standard deviations of Woods' 18-hole scores are typically lower than those of most Tour players. Tiger plays fewer tournaments than most professionals (20-23 per year, compared to the typical 25-30), and focuses his efforts on preparing for (and peaking at) the Majors and the most prestigious of the other tournaments. Woods' manner off of the course is cautious as well, as he carries himself in interviews and public appearances with a carefully controlled demeanor. One of the few breaches of Tiger's fan-friendly image occurred during the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, on the 18th tee in the second round. Hitting driver, Woods snap-hooked his tee shot into the Pacific Ocean, then let loose with a rich stream of expletives that NBC's microphones captured in real time. But while the USGA received several calls from offended viewers, Tiger quickly apologized.
Though he is known to be extremely focused and almost machine-like during tournaments, many golfers have mentioned how Woods is easy to get along with and has a good sense of humor. John Daly mentioned in his autobiography that "Tiger Woods is one of my favorite golfers to play with. The kid is an absolute riot and is just hysterical. Everyone who thinks he is just robotic during tournaments needs to walk 18 holes with him to realize how funny and genuine of a guy he really is."
Tiger almost always wears a shirt in the shade of various reds on the final round (usually on Sundays) of every tournament in which he plays, as he believes the color red symbolizes aggression and assertiveness.. Woods also puts tape on his middle and ring fingers before playing on Sundays, but not for medical reasons.
Woods' major championship victories are as follows:
In all of his major victories, he has had the outright lead or a share of the lead after the third round.
Woods also won the Silver Medal as leading amateur at The Open Championship in 1996 before he turned professional.
With his victory in The Masters in 2001, Woods became the only player ever to hold all four professional majors at once (although this did not occur in a calendar year, and is therefore not considered a true Grand Slam). The achievement has been nicknamed "The Tiger Slam".
In the 2006 PGA Championship, Woods made only three bogeys, tying the record for fewest bogeys in a major.
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 courses have a par of 72, or 288 for four rounds, some have a par of 71 or 70:
The above performances have also given him the record for victory margin in two majors:
Woods is the only player ever to have won two majors in each of two consecutive years (2005–2006).
Woods 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.
Including Woods' three U.S. Amateur Championship wins, he and Bobby Jones are the only golfers to win thirteen total majors before age 30.
LA = Low Amateur
PGA Tour career summary
Woods was only a professional for approximately 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 for official money on any tour.
Woods receives the majority of his income from endorsement contracts, and is the highest-earning sportsman in the world. In June 2005, Forbes estimated his annual income at US$87 million . In July 2006 Sports Illustrated reported Woods 2005 earning of 97.6 Million, more than double any other US athlete. Woods is also the youngest player to reach 50 PGA career wins, eclipsing the mark previously set by Jack Nicklaus .
PGA Tour wins
Major championships are shown in bold.
Other professional wins
United States national team appearances
Woods won the inaugural FedEx Cup in 2007. After sitting out The Barclays, Woods won the final two events, the BMW Championship and The Tour Championship, to win the playoff series and the $10 million annuity.
The following are generally regarded to be the most memorable shots of Woods' career.
In the bag
"Frank" is the name given to the club cover always on Tiger's bag. It is a plush tiger head created by his mother Kultida. On it is stitched, "from mom with love" in Thai.
An animatronic version of Frank, created by M5 Industries, was used in several Nike Golf commercials starting in 2003, where Frank would give advice to Tiger, or even seem to be more a nuisance than a help, much in the same vein as the "Lil' Penny" commercials Nike did with Penny Hardaway in the mid-1990s. In one commercial, Frank was talking trash at Charles Barkley during a pro-am. In another, when Tiger thought Frank was giving bad advice, Tiger told Frank, "You can be replaced."
Charity and youth projects
Woods has established several charitable and youth projects.
Woods has also participated in charity work for his current caddy, Steve Williams. On April 24, 2006 Woods won an auto racing event that benefited the Steve Williams Foundation to raise funds to provide sporting careers for disadvantaged youth.
Shortly after his 21st birthday, Woods began signing numerous endorsement deals. Some of the companies that Woods signed with included General Motors, General Mills, American Express, Accenture and the one he is most known for - Nike. Woods signed a 5-year, $100 million endorsing contract with Nike, which at the time was the largest endorsing deal ever signed by an athlete. Some of the famous Nike advertising campaigns featuring Woods include the "I am Tiger Woods" spots, in which children claim they are the golfing superstar. Another featured Woods doing a trick with a golf ball in which he bounces a ball on a club several times then hits it baseball style. This is a routine that Woods often performs during golf exhibitions. On Father's Day after the passing of his father in 2006, Nike released a commercial featuring home movie clips from Tiger's childhood, usually showing the young prodigy receiving training and support from his father. The commercial was dedicated to Earl Woods and "fathers everywhere." His talent, looks, youth appeal, and personality have made him a bankable celebrity and the highest valued athletic spokesperson numerous years in a row. Only Michael Jordan and Arnold Palmer have had longer tenures at the top for endorsements and have made more money from them overall than Woods.
Woods also endorses the 'Tiger Woods PGA Tour' series of video games; he has done so from 1999 up to 2006 and it is likely that he will continue to do so.
Woods also has his own line of watches.
Like any major public figure, Woods has been at the center of a number of controversies.
Use of race in 1996 Nike commercial
Perhaps the first such instance centered around a 1996 Nike television commercial that aired during a highly-rated NFL game on ESPN, the week of Tiger's professional debut. In it, clips of Woods' three U.S. Amateur victories ran as Woods spoke the words:
Critics pointed out that, throughout his amateur career, Woods had downplayed the race issue, even issuing a press release at the 1995 U.S. Open that stated, "ethnic background and/or composition should not make a difference... The bottom line is that I am an American... and proud of it!" But now he was using it to sell shoes. The following week, James Glassman of the Washington Post called the commercial "discordant, dishonest and even vile," writing: "The ad is telling blacks and other minorities that racism is so virulent in this country that, no matter how good you are, you will be despised and rejected by white [people]. You have to stand up to them (in Nikes, of course)... The only problem is that, in the case of Mr. Woods, it's based on a lie." Glassman went on to challenge Nike to produce a list of courses that Woods could not play; a Nike representative called him a week later and admitted that "Tiger Woods can play on any golf course he wants."
Withdrawal from the Buick Challenge
Also in 1996, Woods drew harsh criticism from the media (and his fellow Tour pros) when he broke protocol and withdrew from the Buick Challenge tournament in Pine Mountain, Georgia. But worse than the withdrawal from the tournament itself (which would lose revenue from the hundreds of fans who were showing up just to see Tiger), was the brush-off Woods gave to a dinner that was being held in his honor the evening before the event. The day before, Woods gave the tournament director his word that he would attend the dinner honoring him as the reigning NCAA Golf Player of the Year (an event with a $200 per plate fee), even though he was withdrawing from the tournament due to "mental fatigue". But the next morning, Tiger informed tournament officials (through his agent) that his plane was on the runway, and that he was heading home. While Woods did send letters to those in attendance at the dinner apologizing for his actions, Tiger's attitude did not sit well with his fellow pros. "Everybody has been telling him how great he is," Davis Love III said. "I guess he's starting to believe it."
Less than a month before his first Masters win, Tiger became embroiled in a brief controversy regarding demeaning off-color remarks made during a magazine interview (ironic, since Fuzzy Zoeller would find himself in a similar—though far more infamous—scandal just weeks later, when he made off-color remarks about Woods following the Masters). In early 1997, Woods agreed to an exclusive interview with GQ, as IMG (Woods' managers) felt that exposure in the men's magazine would be a boon to his young career. GQ sent Charlie Pierce to interview Tiger for three hours, and to accompany him to the magazine's photoshoot in a limousine. During the drive and the photoshoot, Pierce heard Woods use excessive profanity and tell a number of racist and sexist jokes to just about anyone who would listen. After one joke, Woods turned to Pierce and said, "Hey, you can't write this," to which Pierce responded, "Too late." The article, which came out in GQ in the middle of March, printed Woods' remarks verbatim. In damage-control mode, Woods' camp fired back with allegations that Pierce had wire-tapped the limo, charges Pierce strongly denies.
Early in Woods' career, a small number of golf experts expressed concern about his impact on the competitiveness of the game (and thus the public appeal of professional golf). This issue was most prominent from 1999–2002, when Woods was at his most dominant. "The question has been asked, seriously, and more than once: Isn't Tiger Woods actually bad for golf?" - commented Bill Lyon of Knight-Ridder (though Lyon ultimately concluded that he wasn't ). At first, some pundits feared that Woods would drive the spirit of competition out of the game of golf by making existing courses obsolete and relegating opponents to simply competing for second place each week. Many courses in the PGA Tour rota (including Major Championship sites like Augusta National) even began to add yardage to their tees in an effort to slow down long hitters like Woods, a strategy that became known as "Tiger-Proofing". However, Woods was unable to maintain his pace after 2002, and the increases in PGA Tour television ratings and prize money since Woods arrived on the golf scene have largely discredited the negative view of his impact on the game, to the point that, as of 2009, the complaint is rarely heard. The current mainstream view is that Woods' success is one of the most positive things that has ever happened to golf.
As alluded to above, just as Woods was wrapping up his victory at the 1997 Masters, fellow pro Fuzzy Zoeller created a firestorm of controversy when reporters posed to him the question, 'What do you think about Tiger?' Zoeller responded infamously:
Zoeller smiled, snapped his fingers, and started to walk away, but he turned and added, "...Or collard greens, or whatever the hell it is they serve."
Zoeller was immediately called to the carpet for what most considered racist comments; K-Mart, a retail chain that had sponsored Zoeller, quickly terminated his contract. While Zoeller apologized continually for the remarks (and begged Woods to call him so he could personally apologize and offer an explanation), Woods was slow to respond. Three days after Zoeller's apology at the Greater Greensboro Open, Tiger finally issued a press statement accepting Zoeller's apology. The two players would stage a peace offering at a tournament several weeks later, but Woods still harbored resentment over the comments. "I forgive him," he said almost a year later. "But I can't forget."
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