As a child, Tiger Woods had won three straight US Amateur titles. When he was 16, he played his first professional tournament. At 21, he won by the biggest margin in tournament history, which made him the youngest Masters champion ever. Before his 27th birthday, Tiger had 32 PGA Tour victories under his belt. By the time he stepped into 40s, 14 majors along with 79 PGA Tour titles were his to boast of. But Tiger Woods wasn’t just a golf prodigy. He changed the game of golf forever.
Before Tiger’s entry into the domain of professional golf, everyone idolized the “Shark” Greg Norman. Despite his style and persona, Norman didn’t do much for the game though he earned a lot of fame and money for himself. What sets tiger apart is the way he inspired more people to play golf, and thus could be called the inspiration behind many a golfer. By inspiring a whole generation of golfers, Tiger even created an exciting environment for the companies that helped the game and golfers bring in endorsements. No wonder why many say the way Tiger Woods influenced golf is possibly equal to or even greater than how Michael Jordan did it for basketball.
Let’s take a look at the life of this golf genius and see what made him the player he eventually became.
Tiger’s Early life
Tiger Woods was born as Eldrick Tont Woods on December 30, 1975. His father Earl Woods was a retired lieutenant colonel while his mother – Kultida, was a Thai native. Earl was a Vietnam War veteran and had a Vietnamese friend – Vuong Dang Phong, whom he had given the nickname ‘Tiger’. He gave the same moniker to his son.
While growing up in Cypress, California, Tiger showed a keen interest in golf from an early age. When he was just 6 months’ old, he imitated his father’s swing after watching him hit golf balls into a net. His parents said their boy was playing with a putter before he could even walk!
Despite his unusually early age, Tiger’s parents were quick to identify his talent. They realized the boy didn’t just have exceptional golf playing abilities, but also possessed a burning passion for the game. As a member of the U.S Army, Earl had playing privileges at the Navy golf course next to the Los Alamitos-based Joint Forces Training Base. This permitted Tiger to play there. Additionally, Tiger also played at the Heartwell Golf Course in Long Beach (which had a par-3 layout) and some other municipals in Long Beach.
When he was 2 years old, Tiger made an appearance on The Mike Douglas, putting with Bob Hope. At age 3, he shot 48 for nine holes. Golf Digest featured him when he was 5.
Tiger’s Junior years
In 1991, Tiger bagged the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship as the youngest winner at age 15. He captured the successive Junior Amateur titles in 1992 and 1993, making it a three straight win.
In 1992, Tiger played in the Los Angeles Open on PGA Tour – his first professional tournament at age 16. He made the 36-hole cut. In 1993 at age 17, he played in the PGA Tour events of Honda Classic, Nissan Los Angeles Open, and GTE Byron Nelson Classic.
In the 1994 Johnnie Walker Asian Classic held in Thailand, he tied for 34th place. In 1994, he made the largest comeback ever in the U.S. Amateur Championship at Sawgrass in Florida’s Ponte Vedra Beach.
In 1994, Woods enrolled at Stanford University. He won 10 collegiate events in two years, which culminated with the NCAA title. The same year, he played in three PGA Tour events; the Buick Classic, Nestle Invitational, and Motorola Western Open.
As an amateur, Tiger’s six USGA national championships wins before he turned pro on August 27, 1996 are considered one of the most impressive records in the history of amateur golf. When he finally wrapped up his amateur career, Tiger had won an unparalleled third consecutive U.S. Amateur title, and finished with 18 consecutive match-play victories, which was a record.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour career – highlights
With 82 all-time PGA Tour victories, Woods is tied with Sam Snead for the most PGA Tour wins of all time.
During 1999-2000 and 2006-2007, number of consecutive PGA Tour wins for Tiger were 6 and 7 respectively. Only Byron Nelson leads him with his 11 consecutive wins in 1945.
When considering PGA Tour wins in a year, Tiger had 9 wins under his belt in 2000. The top three players in this list are Byron Nelson (18 wins in 1945), Ben Hogan (13 wins in 1946), and Sam Snead (11 wins in 1950).
Between 1998 and 2005, Tiger made the cut in 142 successive events. He broke the PGA Tour record of 113 consecutive events that Byron Nelson held formerly. Woods’ golden streak started with the 1998 Buick Invitational and concluded with the 2005 Wachovia Championship.
If you consider most victories bagged by a player in a single PGA Tour event, Tiger’s name would pop up as he had won the following events more than any other golfer:
- 8 wins in WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (during 1999-2001, 2005-07, 2009, and 2013)
- 8 wins in Arnold Palmer Invitational (during 2000-03, 2008-09, and 2012-13)
- 7 wins in Farmers Insurance Open (during 1999, 2003, 2005-08, and 2013)
- 7 wins in WGC-Cadillac Championship (during 1999, 2002-03, 2005-07, and 2013)
- 5 wins in Memorial Tournament (during 1999-2001, 2009, and 2012)
- 5 wins in BMW Championship (during 1997, 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2009)
It’s interesting to note that in 2000, the actual scoring average of Tiger stood at 68.17, which was the lowest in PGA Tour history. It exceeded Byron Nelson’s average of 68.33 in 1945.
When he was 9, Tiger made a commitment to his father. He said he was going to be professionally excellent, which was bold for someone his age. But he stayed true to his words and did what he had told his father, and did that in style.