Reference Entry

Woods, Tiger

Robert Fay

in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, Second Edition

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780195170559
Woods, Tiger

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Eldrick “Tiger” Woods was born in Cypress, California, and showed interest in his father's golf clubs while he was still only a toddler. Earl Woods began teaching the game to his son, and young Tiger displayed extraordinary natural talent, making two holes-in-one by the age of six. Young Tiger Woods dominated amateur Golf, setting records when he won an unprecedented three straight U.S. Junior Amateur titles (1991–1993) and three U.S. Amateur crowns (1994–1996). He attended Stanford University in Stanford, California, where he won the 1996 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) title. Woods then decided to turn professional, knowing he possessed a complete and polished game with the power to routinely hit 300-yard drives and the touch necessary for a solid “short game” (shots from within sixty yards of the hole, including putting). Experts particularly lauded his competitive desire and mental composure, for which Woods credited his father, a former Green Beret in the Vietnam War.Woods won two of the first seven pro tournaments he entered. In April 1997 Woods won The Masters, golf's most prestigious tournament, shooting a record-setting 270 and winning by the largest margin in Masters history, twelve strokes. He also set a handful of unofficial records, including the first African American and Asian American (his mother, Kutilda Punsawad Woods, is a native of Thailand) to win a major golf tournament, as well as being the youngest Masters winner at age twenty-one. Woods ended 1997 with four tournament wins and nine top-ten finishes overall.After tinkering with his swing through much of 1998, Woods won his second major tournament, the PGA Championship, in 1999. In 2000 he won nine tournaments, including three straight major titles: the U.S. Open, the British Open, and the PGA Championship. He followed this with a victory in the 2001 Masters, becoming the first golfer to hold all four major professional titles at the same time. He repeated as Masters champion in 2002, becoming just the third player to win that tournament in back-to-back years and the seventh to win it three times. In 2003 he won his seventh World Golf Championship, making him the top player on the tour for an unprecedented fifth consecutive year. Woods was named PGA Player of the Year in 1997, 1999, and 2002, and was named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year in 1997 and Sportsman of the Year in 2001.Woods has also had a great impact on the social aspects of golf. When Woods won the Masters for the first time, many credited him with breaking racial barriers that had kept minorities out of golf's top echelons in the past. Woods himself cited golfers who paved the way for him, such as Robert Lee Elder, the first African American to play in the Masters, and Ted Rhodes, the first African American to play in the U.S. Open. In addition to winning the respect and admiration of his colleagues on the tour, Woods has increased golf's popularity among African Americans and other minorities—a development he has further enhanced through the Tiger Woods Foundation, which offers golf clinics to youths in underserved areas.

Reference Entry.  535 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History

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