The name Tiger Woods has been synonymous with professional world golf for almost two decades now. Woods, born Eldrick Tont Woods first participated in the PGA Tour in 1995, the Masters Tournament, in which he tied for 41st as the only amateur to make the cut. At age 20, in 1996, he became the first golfer to win three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles and won the NCAA individual golf championship. In winning the Silver Medal as leading amateur at The Open Championship, he tied the record for an amateur aggregate score of 281. He left college after two years and turned professional in August of that same year. Tiger Woods immediately penned endorsement deals with Nike, Inc. and Titleist; the latter being an American brand name of the South Korean company, Fila for golf equipment and apparel products produced by its Acushnet subsidiary, which is headquartered in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. Acushnet is best known for its Titleist golf balls. It also produces clubs and other equipment, apparel and accessories under the brands Foot Joy and Pinnacle. Phillip W. “Skipper” Young, a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, founded the Acushnet Company as a rubber-processing business. At the time when Woods signed these deals, aged 20, they were considered to be the most lucrative endorsement deals in golf history. Later on in 1996, Tiger was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year and PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. In April 1997, he won his first major, the Masters Tournament, becoming the tournament’s youngest-ever winner. Two months later, he set the record for the fastest-ever ascent to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings. After a lackluster 1998, Tiger Woods finished the 1999 season with eight wins, including the PGA Championship, a feat not achieved since 1974.
Tiger Woods has been called the world’s most marketable athlete. Briefly after his 21st birthday in 1996, he continued to sign endorsement deals with numerous companies, including General Motors, General Mills, American Express, and Accenture. In the year 2000, he signed a 5-year, US $105 million contract extension with Nike. It was the largest endorsing deal ever signed by an athlete at that time. Woods’ endorsement has been credited with playing a significant role in taking the Nike Golf brand from a “start-up” golf company earlier in the past decade, to becoming the leading golf apparel company in the world, and a major player in the equipment and golf ball market. Nike Golf is one of the fastest growing brands in the sport, with an estimated US $600 million in sales. Woods has been described as the “ultimate endorser” for Nike Golf, very frequently seen wearing Nike gear during tournaments, and even in advertisements for other products. Woods receives a percentage from the sales of Nike Golf apparel, footwear, golf equipment, golf balls, and has a building named after him at Nike’s headquarters campus in Beaverton, Oregon.
Upon joining the professional tour in 1996, Woods became revered for his long drives which had a large impact on the world of golf. When he did not upgrade his equipment in the following years (insisting upon the use of True Temper Dynamic Gold steel-shafted clubs and smaller steel club heads that promoted accuracy over distance), many opponents caught up to him. Phil Mickelson even made a joke in 2003 about Woods using “inferior equipment”, which did not sit well with his sponsors Nike and Titleist. During 2004, Woods finally upgraded his driver technology to a larger club head and graphite shaft, which, coupled with his club head speed, made him one of the Tour’s lengthier players off the tee once again. Despite his power advantage, Tiger has always focused on developing an excellent all-around game. Although in recent years he has typically been near the bottom of the Tour rankings in driving accuracy, his iron play is generally accurate, his recovery and bunker play is very strong, and his putting (especially under pressure) is possibly his greatest asset. He is largely responsible for a shift to higher standards of athleticism amongst professional golfers, and is known for putting in more hours of practice than most. From mid-1993, while he was still an amateur, until 2004, Woods worked almost exclusively with leading swing coach Butch Harmon. From mid-1997, Harmon and Woods fashioned a major redevelopment of his full swing, achieving greater consistency, better distance control, and better kinesiology. The changes began to pay off in 1999. From March 2004 to 2010, Woods was coached by Hank Haney, who worked on flattening his swing plane. Woods continued to win tournaments with Haney, but his driving accuracy dropped significantly. Haney resigned in May 2010 and was replaced by Sean Foley. Mike “Fluff” Cowan served as Tiger Woods’ caddy from the start of his professional career until March 1999. Cowan was replaced by Steve Williams, who became a close friend of Woods and is often credited with aiding him with important shots and putts. In June 2011, Tiger fired Steve Williams and replaced him with his close friend Bryon Bell, on an interim basis. Joe LaCava, a former caddy of both Fred Couples and Dustin Johnson, was hired by Tiger soon after.
On August 20, 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver announced that Tiger Woods would be inducted into the California Hall of Fame. He was inducted on December 5, 2007 at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts in Sacramento. Woods was named “Athlete of the Decade” by the Associated Press in December 2009. Tiger Woods has been named by the Associated Press as Male Athlete of the Year a record-tying four times, and is the only person to be named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year more than once. Since his record-breaking win at the 1997 Masters Tournament, golf has increased in popularity, which is commonly attributed to Tiger’s presence. He is credited by some sources for dramatically increasing prize money in golf, generating interest in new audiences, and for drawing the largest TV audiences in golfing history. Apart from his coaches, his ‘drive’ and determination to be an immense success in a sport largely dominated by male caucasians, Tiger has attributed his unprecedented fortune to his athletic and biological father, Earl Woods. Earl Woods, a retired lieutenant colonel and Vietnam War veteran, was of mostly African American, as well as caucasian, and possible Native American and Chinese, ancestry. Tiger grew up in Orange County, California. He was a child prodigy, introduced to golf before the age of two, by Earl Woods, a single-figure handicap amateur golfer who had been one of the earliest African-American college baseball players at Kansas State University. In 1978, Tiger putted against comedian Bob Hope in a television appearance on The Mike Douglas Show. At age three, he shot a 48 over nine holes over the Cypress Navy course, and at age five, he appeared in Golf Digest and on ABC’s That’s Incredible. Before turning seven, Tiger won the Under Age 10 section of the Drive, Pitch, and Putt competition, held at the Navy Golf Course in Cypress, California. In 1984 at age eight, he won the 9–10 boys’ event, the youngest age group available, at the Junior World Golf Championships. He first broke 80 at age eight. He went on to win the Junior World Championships six times, including four consecutive wins from 1988 to 1991. Tiger’s father wrote that Tiger first beat him when he was 11 years old, with Earl trying his best. Earl lost to Tiger every time from then on. Tiger first broke 70 on a regulation golf course at age 12.
In November 2003, Tiger Woods became engaged to Elin Nordegren, a former model and also the daughter of former Swedish minister of migration Barbro Holmberg and radio journalist Thomas Nordegren. They were introduced during The Open Championship in 2001 by Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik, who had employed her as a domestic assistant. They married on October 5, 2004, at the Sandy Lane Resort in Barbados, and lived at Isleworth, a community in Windermere, a suburb of Orlando, Florida. Tiger and Elin’s first child was a girl, named Sam Alexis Woods, born in 2007. The couple’s son, Charlie Axel Woods, was born in 2009. On November 25, 2009, The National Enquirer published a story claiming that Woods had an extramarital affair with New York City nightclub manager Rachel Uchitel, a claim which she denied. Two days later, around 2:30 a.m. on November 27, Woods left his home in a Cadillac Escalade and, while still on his street, collided with a fire hydrant, a tree, and several hedges. He was treated for minor facial lacerations and received a ticket for careless driving. Following intense media speculation about the accident, Tiger released a statement on his website taking sole responsibility for the accident, calling it a “private matter” and crediting his wife for helping him from the car. On November 30, Woods announced that he would not be appearing at his own charity golf tournament, the Chevron World Challenge, or any other tournaments in 2009, due to his injuries. On December 2, following the release by US Weekly of a voicemail message allegedly left by Tiger for a mistress, Woods released another statement in which he admitted “transgressions” and apologized to “all of those who have supported him over the years”, while reiterating his and his family’s right to privacy. Over the next few days, more than a dozen women claimed in various media outlets to have had affairs with Woods. On December 11, he released a third statement admitting to infidelity and apologizing again, as well as announcing that he would be taking “an indefinite break from professional golf.”
Woods gave a televised statement on February 19, 2010, in which he said he had been to a 45-day therapy program since the end of December. He again apologized for his actions. “I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to,” he said. “I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have to go far to find them. I was wrong. I was foolish.” He said he did not know yet when he would be returning to golf. He announced a few weeks later on March 16 that he would be returning at the 2010 Masters Tournament on April 8. Tiger and Elin were legally divorced on August 23, 2010. In 2006, they purchased a US $39 million estate in Jupiter Island, Florida, and began constructing a 10,000-square-foot home; Tiger eventually moved there in 2010 after the couple’s divorce.
In the days and months following Woods’ admission of infidelity, several companies re-evaluated their relationships with him. Accenture, AT&T, Gatorade and General Motors completely ended their sponsorship deals, while Gillette suspended advertisements featuring Tiger. TAG Heuer dropped Woods from advertising campaigns in December 2009 and officially ended their deal when his contract expired in August 2011. The Golf Digest suspended Woods’ monthly column beginning with the February 2010 issue. In contrast, Nike continued to support Woods, as did Electronic Arts, which was working with Woods on the game Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online. A December 2009 study estimated the shareholder loss caused by Woods’ affairs to be between US $5 billion and US $12 billion. Since childhood Tiger was raised as a Buddhist, and he actively practiced this faith until late into his adult professional golf career. In a 2000 article, Tiger was quoted as saying he “believes in Buddhism… Not every aspect, but most of it.” He has attributed his deviations and infidelity to his losing track of Buddhism. He said, “Buddhism teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously I lost track of what I was taught.” In hindsight I am pretty sure had he been given another chance, Tiger would have made better choices. We must always remember that it is our Creator who has bestowed extra-ordinary talents upon us to be impactful individuals and contributing members of society. We should never omit the Most High from our thoughts, actions and plans. In fully discovering and understanding ourselves, we must make it a priority to tame our sexual urges, because they can really land us in ‘hot-water’. We should never defile the sanctity of marriage with adultery, because re-marriage itself is considered a form of adultery. However, I don’t mean to encourage infidelity but if you must, don’t get caught!