Photo: Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)
Full name: Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods
Born: December 30, 1975
Age: 44 years
Born Place: Cypress, California, United States
Height: 6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Spouse: Elin Nordegren (m. 2004; div. 2010)
Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods (born December 30, 1975) is an American professional golfer. He is tied for first in PGA Tour wins and ranks second in men’s major championships and also holds numerous golf records. Woods is widely regarded as one of the greatest golfers, and one of the most famous athletes of all time. He will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2021.
Following an outstanding junior, college, and amateur golf career, Woods turned professional in 1996 at the age of 20. By the end of April 1997, he had won three PGA Tour events in addition to his first major, the 1997 Masters, which he won by 12 strokes in a record-breaking performance. He reached number one in the world rankings for the first time in June 1997, less than a year after turning pro. Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, Woods was the dominant force in golf. He was the top-ranked golfer in the world from August 1999 to September 2004 (264 weeks) and again from June 2005 to October 2010 (281 weeks). During this time, he won 13 of golf’s major championships.
The next decade of Woods’s career was marked by comebacks from personal problems and injuries. He took a self-imposed hiatus from professional golf from December 2009 to early April 2010 in an attempt to resolve marital issues with his then-wife, Elin. Woods admitted to multiple infidelities, and the couple eventually divorced. Woods fell to number 58 in the world rankings in November 2011 before ascending again to the No.1 ranking between March 2013 and May 2014. However, injuries led him to undergo four back surgeries between 2014 and 2017. Woods competed in only one tournament between August 2015 and January 2018, and he dropped off the list of the world’s top 1,000 golfers. On his return to regular competition, Woods made steady progress to the top of the game, winning his first tournament in five years at the Tour Championship in September 2018 and his first major in 11 years at the 2019 Masters.
Woods has held numerous golf records. He has been the number one player in the world for the most consecutive weeks and for the greatest total number of weeks of any golfer in history. He has been awarded PGA Player of the Year a record 11 times and has won the Byron Nelson Award for lowest adjusted scoring average a record eight times. Woods has the record of leading the money list in ten different seasons. He has won 15 professional major golf championships (trailing only Jack Nicklaus, who leads with 18) and 82 PGA Tour events (tied for first all time with Sam Snead). Woods leads all active golfers in career major wins and career PGA Tour wins. He is the youngest player to achieve the career Grand Slam, and the second golfer (after Nicklaus) to have achieved a career Grand Slam three times. Woods has won 18 World Golf Championships. He was also part of the American winning team for the 1999 Ryder Cup. In May 2019, Woods was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the fourth golfer to receive the honor.
BACKGROUND AND FAMILY
Woods was born in 1975 in Cypress, California, to Earl and Kultida “Tida” Woods. He is their only child and has two half-brothers, Earl Jr. and Kevin, as well as a half-sister named Royce from his father’s first marriage.
Kultida (née Punsawad) is originally from Thailand, where Earl had met her when he was on a tour of duty there in 1968. She is of mixed Thai, Chinese, and Dutch ancestry. Earl was a retired lieutenant colonel and Vietnam War veteran who reported African American, Chinese, and Native American descent. Tiger describes his ethnic make-up as “Cablinasian” (a syllabic abbreviation he coined from Caucasian, Black, American Indian, and Asian).
Woods’s 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 the Wake Forest University golf team and turned professional in 2012 when she made her pro debut in the LPGA Championship.
Woods turned pro at age 20 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. On April 13, 1997, he won his first major, the Masters, in record-breaking fashion and became the tournament’s youngest winner at age 21. Two months later, he set the record for the fastest 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 Johnny Miller did it in 1974.
Woods was severely myopic; his eyesight had a rating of 11 diopters. In order to correct this problem, he underwent successful laser eye surgery in 1999, and he immediately resumed winning tour events. In 2007, his vision again began to deteriorate, and he underwent laser eye surgery a second time.
In 2000, Woods won six consecutive events on the PGA Tour, which was the longest winning streak since Ben Hogan did it in 1948. One of these was the 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.
When Woods won the 2001 Masters, he became the only player to win four consecutive major professional golf titles, although not in the same calendar year. This achievement came to be known as the “Tiger Slam.” Following a stellar 2001 and 2002 in which he continued to dominate the tour, Woods’s 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’s record streak of 264 weeks at No. 1.
Woods rebounded in 2005, winning six PGA Tour events and reclaiming the top spot in July after swapping it back and forth with Singh over the first half of the year.
Woods began dominantly in 2006, 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 some time off from the tour and appeared rusty upon his return at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, where he missed the cut. However, he quickly returned to form and ended the year by winning six consecutive tour events. At the season’s close, Woods had 54 total wins that included 12 majors; he had broken the tour records for both total wins and total majors wins over eleven seasons.
Woods has won 82 official PGA Tour events, including 15 majors. He is 14–1 when going into the final round of a major with at least a share of the lead. Multiple golf experts have heralded Woods as “the greatest closer in history”. He owns the lowest career scoring average and the most career earnings of any player in PGA Tour history.
Woods’s victory at the 2013 Players Championship also marked a win in his 300th PGA Tour start. He also won golf tournaments in his 100th (in 2000) and 200th (in 2006) tour starts.
Woods has spent the most consecutive and cumulative weeks atop the world rankings. He is one of five players (along with Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, and Jack Nicklaus) to have won all four major championships in his career, known as the Career Grand Slam, and was the youngest to do so. Woods is the only player to have won all four major championships in a row, accomplishing the feat in the 2000–2001 seasons.
- PGA Tour wins (82)
- European Tour wins (41)
- Japan Golf Tour wins (3)
- Asian Tour wins (2)
- PGA Tour of Australasia wins (3)
- Other wins (17)
- Amateur wins (21)