Professional golfer, Tiger Woods, is one of the most successful players of all time. A former child prodigy, he was introduced to golf by his father at two years old and grew up to become one of the highest-earning athletes in the world.
Born on 30th December 1975 in Cypress, California, he was named Eldrick Tont Woods. However, his childhood nickname, “Tiger”, is one that he has used throughout his life. Growing up in Orange County, young Tiger received expert golf coaching from his father; a single-figure handicap golfer. Tiger learned his skills at the Navy golf course in Los Alamitos, at the Heartwell golf course in Long Beach and at local municipal courses.
In 1978, aged three, Tiger’s unique skills earned him an invitation to appear on TV playing a round against the legendary comic, Bob Hope, on the Mike Douglas Show. At the Navy course, the prodigy had already shot a 48 over nine holes. Aged five, he appeared on ABC’s That’s Incredible and in Golf Digest, while at six, he won the club’s Under 10 Drive, Pitch and Putt contest. Aged eight, he won the nine to 10-year old boys’ event in the 1984 Junior World Golf Championships and broke his first 80 in the same year. He won the Junior World Championships six times, with four consecutive wins between 1988 and 1991. In fact, by the time Tiger was 11, he was already able to beat his father. He broke 70 for the first time at 12 years old.
Aged 13, the teenager won his first major national tournament, the 1989 Big I. He also met Jack Nicklaus for the first time at the Bel-Air Country Club, Los Angeles. Tiger’s dad, Earl, had set his son the goal of breaking Nicklaus’ records and the golfing legend was impressed with the youngster’s skills and potential.
Tiger attended Anaheim’s Western High School and at 15 he became the youngest winner of the US Junior Amateur Championship. In 1991, he was awarded the title, Amateur Player of the Year, in Southern California.
In 1996, after turning professional at 20, Tiger won the 1997 Masters by 12 strokes – a record-breaking win, with prize money of $486,000. He was number one in the world by June 1997. At number one again for 264 weeks from August 1999 until September 2004 and for a further 281 weeks from June 2005 until October 2010, Tiger’s success seemed to go from strength to strength.
Following reports of marriage problems (which eventually led to divorce), Tiger suffered a loss of form after taking time out from December 2009 until April – his world ranking fell to 58 in November 2011. However, in December 2011, he won the Chevron World Challenge, followed by the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March 2013 to recover his number one world ranking until May 2014.
Tiger has broken many golf records. He was the world’s number one for more consecutive weeks – and for the highest total of weeks – than any golfer in history. He was PGA Player of the Year a record 11 times; he has led the highest earnings list in 10 seasons; he has won the Byron Nelson Award for the lowest adjusted scoring average, a world record eight times; and he has won the most major tournaments and PGA Tours. As the youngest golfer to win the Grand Slam and to win 50 tournaments on tour, Tiger has won 18 World Golf Championships and along with Rory McIlroy, he is the only golfer to win the Open Championship Silver Medal and Gold Medal.
Sadly, the star has been beset by health problems and he needed back surgery for ongoing problems in both 2014 and again in 2015. He has struggled to regain his form ever since and in 2015, he fell to 104 in the world. Today, he is ranked at 851.
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