Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods is one of the most recognised sportsmen in the world. He is arguably one of the most successful golfers of all time, and in addition to his achievements in all the World Tours and competitions, he supports a wide range of charities and organisations aimed at involving young people in sport.

His ethnic background sparked interest, originally because golf has traditionally been a sport associated with the white middle classes, and because of his diverse ethnic make up.

He has won the second highest number of major golf championships of any player in the history of the sport, and 64 PGA Tour events. He holds major sponsorship deals with a range of sporting and lifestyle brands, including Nike.

Background

Tiger Woods was born on the 30th December 1970 to Earl and Kultilda Woods. His father was half African American, a quarter Chinese and a quarter Native American. His mother is half Thai, a quarter Chinese and a quarter Dutch. Tiger himself is a quarter Chinese, a quarter Thai, a quarter African American, an eighth Native American and an eighth Dutch.

He refers to himself as Cablinasian, a term he made up himself which needs as much unpacking as his actual background. Tiger was brought up in Orange County and attended a fee-paying high school in Anaheim.

Early Life

Tiger has spoken candidly about his upbringing and the pressure put upon him by his father to succeed at golf. It was evident at a very early age that he had the potential to play at international level.

He appeared on The Mike Douglas Show aged only two years old to putt against comedian Bob Hope. He participated in the Junior World Golf Championships in 1984 aged eight, a year too young for the youngest age category of 9-10 years. He won this championship, a feat he repeated a further six times which included a four year winning streak from 1988 to 1991.

He has spoken of his father’s ruthless and occasionally bizarre coaching technique. Earl Woods would take his three year old son to play nine hole rounds of golf at the Navy Golf Club. Intent on teaching his son to play under extreme pressure, his father would shout, scream and even throw things at his son in an attempt to put him off his swing.

At the age of six Tiger scored his first birdie on a 91 yard, three par hole. A year later his father continued the psychological aspect of Tiger’s training and began to play him subliminal tapes to help build his mental game.

Teenage Career

At fifteen, Tiger was named Golf Digest Player of the Year. In the same year he won the Southern California Junior Championship, the Orange Bowl Junior International Championship, the Phoenix Junior Championship and the United States Junior Amateur Championship (in which he was the youngest player ever to have won).

He won the same championship the following year, becoming the only golfer ever to have won twice. He was named Golf World Player of the Year and won another impressive selection of Amateur and Junior World Championships.

He also began participating in Open PGA tours and won the Southern California Player of the Year. At seventeen, he won the United States Junior Amateur Championship for an astonishing third time. In addition to his further golfing achievements, Tiger was accepted on a scholarship to Stanford University.

Professional Career

In August 1996, Tiger Woods was introduced as a professional golfer. He went on to endorse Nike and Titleist for reported sums of $40 and $20 million respectively. He qualified for the Tour Championship and was named Sports Illustrated 1996 Sportsman of the Year. In April 1997 Tiger won his first golf major, The Masters.

This made him the youngest Master’s winner in history, and he achieved another 20 Masters records. His three subsequent PGA Tour championship wins catapulted him to number one in the Official World Golf Rankings. He was also named PGA Player of the Year in 1997.

Amid the huge hype and expectation of the following season, Woods failed to maintain the form of his opening performance. This apparent dip in form was attributed to drastic changes to his swing technique under new coach, Butch Harmon. He only managed to pick up one PGA Tour event in 1998.

The Great Period of Dominance

The three years that followed are cited as one of the most comprehensively sustained stretches of domination by one player in the golfing world. He won the Memorial Tournament and picked up eight PGA Tour wins.

No other golfer had scored this highly in the past quarter of a century and Woods was named PGA Tour Player of the Year and Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year in 1999. He continued in stonking form, taking nine consecutive PGA Tour events, three majors and took his sixth AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

It was in this match that he demonstrated his true flair – the ability to perform under pressure that his dad had trained him so hard to achieve. He was seven strokes behind with only seven holes left, and it looked unlikely that he would take the title this time.

He then scored an eagle, followed by a birdie, then par, finishing on another birdie to lead the round by two shots which secured his victory. Woods required a similar finish to take the 2000 PGA Championship at the Valhalla Golf Club where Bob May looked the favourite until the last 12 holes. Woods clinched the match in the final three holes with a birdie-par-par, and finished seven under par.

In 2001 Woods took the 2001 Masters to achieve what has now been dubbed the “Tiger Slam”. This refers to his holding all four major championship titles simultaneously, which was not a true Grand Slam as he didn’t take all four titles in one calendar year.

The following year he took the Masters once more, a feat only ever achieved by golf greats, Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus. Two bogeys at the close of the PGA Championship lost him the title in 2001.

2003 to Present

Woods continued his career in top form, but seemed to lack the killer instinct that had characterised his play in the previous few years. In 2004 he was knocked off the top spot of the Official World Golf Rankings, owing to his poor performance at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

In response to rumours regarding his form, Woods announced that he was working on changes to his swing once more and this was a transitional point in his career. It is speculated that this was intended to quell the talk that his relationship with coach, Butch Harmon, and his marriage were affecting his play.

Another blow came when Tiger’s father, Earl Woods, passed away in 2006. After a nine-week spell away from the sport he performed badly in the 2006 US Open, and only just managed a second place tie in the Western Open. Things picked up in 2007, however, and the Buick International saw him take a two stroke victory to claim his seventh consecutive PGA Tour win.

His form continued through that year and he opened the 2008 season in similar style, clocking up his 62nd PGA Tour victory. He currently has 64 wins under his belt, and has focussed on his career management of late, to play fewer tournaments in order to maintain his winning streak at the upper level tournaments.

PGA Tour Statistics

Tiger’s personal averages tower over the averages for the PGA tournaments. His scoring average is 67.3 compared to 71.29 for the tour average. His driving distance is a massive 289 yards, almost ten yards further than the tour average.

His putts per round average at 28.17, one fewer per hole than the average number for the tour. His only weak point that can be identified through the figures is his high driving accuracy percentage which stands at 55.95%, compared to the tour average that is 62.74%.

Recent Financial Achievements

Tiger Woods has been rated number 1 in the Official World Golf Ratings from 2005 to 2008. His annual winnings for 2005 to 2007 were all around the $10 million mark and his career total currently stands at $80,194,376.

The Tiger Woods Foundation

Tiger Woods cites his father’s influences and values as being central to his success as an international sports person. Integrity, honesty, discipline and responsibility are the core values that have helped him to achieve his dreams. In the late 1990s he and his father began holding junior golf clinics to help children to implement these same ideas to realise their goals.

The Tiger Woods Foundation was set up in 1996 to inspire young people in sport. They have set up character development programmes, scholarships, grants, junior golf teams and the Tiger Woods Learning Centre. The foundation is supported through sponsorship and donations that have had a huge impact on over 10 million young people’s lives.