Born as Eldrick Woods on December 30, 1975, the future golf champion received the nickname “Tiger” from his parents. His father, Earl Woods, an African-American military officer, had married into a Thai family. Tiger Woods possesses a multiracial background, with mixed Black, Oriental, Native American and White ancestry. This background alone makes him one of the most unique players on the PGA Tour.
Tiger Woods demonstrated an aptitude for golf very early in his life. As a very young child, he imitated his father's successful golf swing. His parents encouraged their son's interest in the game of golf. Soon Tiger attracted national media attention as a child golf prodigy. He demonstrated his abilities before television audiences, even appearing on The Mike Douglas Show with his father to practice hitting golf balls with comic Bob Hope.
A Meteoric Amateur Career
Earl Woods and his wife encouraged their son to develop his talent as a golf player. Tiger won an amateur tournament, the Optimist International Junior Tournament, an impressive six times (at the ages of eight, nine, twelve, thirteen, fourteen and fifteen). While attending high school in California, he spent hours practicing his favorite game as an extracurricular activity after school and during the weekends. He appeared in some PGA events open to amateur players with considerable success.
In 1994, Tiger entered Stanford University, where he continued to excel as a golf athlete. Within the space of two years, he won some ten amateur championships. His father worked closely with him, guiding him and helping to direct his efforts to work towards eventually obtaining a golf career.
In 1994, Tiger participated in the World Amateur Team Championship in France and in 1995, he golfed at the Walker Cup Match in Wales. Although considerable pressure existed for him to seek Olympic team membership, he decided instead to turn professional at a young age and participate in golf for compensation.
Rocketing Towards PGA Success
Tiger Woods decided to turn professional late in the summer of 1996. Today just 40 years of age, the 6'1″ tall 185-pound golf champion has accumulated a stunningly successful record as a professional golf player.
Shortly after he joined the PGA Tour for the first time, his career met with considerable success. He won the Masters Tournament in 1997, a very impressive accomplishment for a player younger than 25. In 1999, he followed up his early success by winning the PGA Championship. In 2000, Tiger Woods won titles at the PGA Championship again, and also prevailed in the U. S. Open Championship and the British Open.
A Winning Decade
After winning the Masters Tournament again in 2001, he earned a place in record books as possibly the most successful young golf professional in U. S. history. Sports Illustrated named him “Sportsman of the Year” in both 1996 and 2000. He won the Masters Tournament in 2002 and 2005, the PGA Championship in 2006 and 2007 and the U.S. Open in 2002 and 2008.
Tiger Woods has won more PGA Tour events over the course of his golfing career than any other player except Sam Sneed. His meteoric success continued during the first decade of the century. He has won numerous honors and titles as a golfer. His success on the links him financial prosperity and led to his receipt of some lucrative product endorsement contracts.
A Golfing Legacy
Tiger Woods made efforts to assist young players in developing a love for the game of golf shortly after he achieved national acclaim for his successful golfing career. During 1996, he established the Tiger Woods Foundation, which today sponsors programs to encourage young people to play golf. He helped establish Tiger Woods Learning Centers for children to encourage academic performance and college entrance for underprivileged youth.
His charitable and philanthropic activities have enhanced his reputation as a leader in the sport of golf. He helped establish a scholarship program named after his father. In 2006, he followed the example of some other successful PGA champions and established a company to design golf courses.
In 2004, Tiger Woods married Elin Nordegren, a former fashion model. The couple later welcomed the birth of a daughter and a son. They resided in Florida, and reportedly planned to build a luxurious residence on Jupiter Island.
Tiger Woods' career benefited from the staunch support of his parents. They recognized his golfing talent and took steps to help develop his golfing skills. Earl Woods frequently attended tournaments to watch his son play, and he reportedly assisted Tiger Woods in obtaining qualified advice after the young man decided to join the PGA Tour. His death at the age of 74 in 2006 came as a blow to his family members, including Tiger Woods.
Following the death of his father, Tiger Woods winning streak on the links suffered some setbacks. Although he won the U. S. Open in 2008, in May of that year he sustained a stress fracture of his left tibia while training, an injury that required some time to heal.
In November, 2009, Tiger Woods reportedly ran off the road while driving in the early morning hours outside his residence. The police issued a ticket to him for careless driving, and intense media speculation created publicity about the possible reasons for his presence on the road at such an early hour. Allegations of marital infidelity surfaced in the press. After Tiger Woods issued an apology to his supporters for disappointing them with his behavior, several corporate sponsors cancelled endorsement agreements with him in the wake of the adverse publicity.
Tiger Woods announced in 2009 that he would take time away from golf to focus on family issues, but his marriage ended in a divorce in August, 2010. During the same year, his golfing staff also changed. His coach, Hank Haney, resigned during the spring of 2010, and Tiger Woods began working under the direction of a new trainer. He terminated his long-time golf caddy, Steve Williams, in June, 2011.
Tiger Woods experienced lackluster performance compared to his previous success streak during the 2012 through 2015 period, although even during less successful years he has played better than many other players. For instance, during 2014, he only won $104, 275 on the PGA Tour. Although this sum exceeds that of numerous other Tour players, it did not compare with Tiger Woods‘ previous levels of success.
He played considerably better during the 2015 season, earning $448,598. Health issues likely explain these results, since he was forced to withdraw from the Honda Classic and some other golf tournaments before completion during 2014 due to a back injury and surgery for a pinched nerve.
Tiger Woods' Impact on Golf
Tiger Woods has already made significant contributions to the game of golf. He regularly supports the Tiger Woods Foundation in playing in golf tournaments to raise money for golf education and to support the academic achievements of underprivileged youth.
In addition to these tangible benefits for golf, his role as unquestionably one of the most successful golf player in the history of the game has inspired numerous young golf players to strive to achieve success playing the game, making him a widely popular model for others to emulate. His positive impact on the game of golf has contributed to his celebrity.