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Tue, 12.30.1975

Tiger Woods, professional, a symbol of golf

Tiger Woods

On this date in 1975, "Tiger" Woods was born. He is an African and Asian American professional golfer, the first representative of the two races and the youngest golfer, to win a major golf tournament.

Eldrick "Tiger" Woods, born in Cypress, CA, is a golf prodigy. His father Earl Woods taught his son to play golf before the boy could even read. His mother, Kutilda Punsawad Woods, comes from Thailand.

He had recorded two holes-in-one by the age of six. By 1996, he possessed a complete and polished game with the power to routinely hit 300-yard drives, and the touch crucial for a solid "short game" (shots closer the hole and putting). When Woods decided to leave Stanford University to play professional golf, he had collected many amateur titles.

Under his belt were six United States Golf Association national championships, a National College Athletic Association championship, and a record-setting three consecutive U.S. Amateur championships. Woods successfully joined the professional ranks by winning two of the first seven tournaments he entered. In April 1997, Woods won the Masters Tournament, shooting a record-setting 270 and winning by the largest margin in Masters history (12 strokes). He also set a handful of unofficial records, including the first African-American--Asian American to win a major golf tournament, as well as the youngest Masters winner.

Woods ended 1997 with four tournament wins, and nine top-ten finishes overall. Woods has had a great impact on the social aspects of golf. When Woods won the Masters, many credited him with breaking racial stereotypes. Woods himself cited Black golfers who paved the way for him, such as Lee Elder, the first African-American to play in the Masters, Ted Rhodes, the first African-American to play in the U.S. Open, and Charlie Sifford. In 2000, he won the British Open and the U.S. Open while breaking Ben Hogan’s 52-year-old record for the most major tournament victories in a year.

Woods was selected as Player of the Year in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003. This is awarded by the PGA TOUR (Jack Nicklaus Award), the PGA of America, and the Golf Writers Association of America. His adjusted scoring average in 2000 of 67.79 strokes was the lowest ever-- breaking his record of 68.43 in 1999--and earned the Byron Nelson Award on the PGA TOUR and the Vardon Trophy from the PGA of America.

In addition to the respect and admiration of his colleagues on the tour, Tiger Woods has increased golf's popularity among African-Americans and other minorities. Woods is now a five-time PGA Player of the Year in his seven full seasons on tour. He also conducts his own annual charity tournament, the Target World Challenge.

Woods married Swedish model Elin Nordegren at a resort in Barbados in October, 2004, and they have two children and have since divorced.  In 2014, Woods played with a bad back a eventually pulled out of the PGA tour to address his injuries.  In 2018 he has returned to the PGA tour with mediocre results compared to his championship past.

Reference:
The World Book Encyclopedia.
Copyright 1996, World Book, Inc.
ISBN 0-7166-0096-X

Image: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

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