When you think of the most popular icons in today’s sports world, you probably think of LeBron James or Tom Brady or Derek Jeter. Well Tiger Woods is right up there at the top of the list of not only professional golfers, but professional athletes everywhere. Tiger is arguably on his way to being the greatest and most dominant athlete in the history of any sport. He has already won 79 PGA Tour events, including 14 major championships, both of those are second all time. And he isn’t even 40 years old yet. Tiger made the sport of golf more popular than ever and has changed the game in many ways, both good and bad.
Eldrick “Tiger” Woods was born on December 30, 1975 in California to Earl and Tida Woods. He is a mix of Caucasian, African American, American Indian, and Asian. His dad noticed his early interest and obvious skill in the game of golf when Tiger began to walk, so he designated him as “the chosen one.” The child prodigy was first seen by the world at the age of 2 on the Mike Douglas Show hitting golf balls. He then appeared in Golf Digest when he was only 5. Tiger began not only competing in tournaments, but winning them when he was 8 and playing against 12-13 year olds. This success early in his life was only a glimpse of what was about to come as he grew into his teens.
Tiger became the youngest US Junior Amateur champion ever when he was 15, and the youngest US Amateur champion 3 years later in 1994. He amassed a record 21 wins as an amateur, another record. He then attended Stanford University for 2 years before turning pro, where he was the conference player of the year and first team All-American. In 1997 when he was 21, he became the youngest and first African American to win the Masters, a major championship, with a record score. Over the course of his career, his awards and stats are marveling and likely to never be touched. These include being named player of the year 11 times, spending over 12 years ranked at #1 in the world, and being the only player to have won all 4 major championships in a row or the same year. He holds countless other records he has earned over the course of his short career. His life outside of the game was just as exciting and decorated, however.
Tiger immediately signed a deal with Nike and Titleist as soon as he turned pro, which were the highest contracts in golf history at the time. He now has his own brand, TW Golf, that branches off of Nike. He was listed as the highest paid athlete in the world from 2000-2012 by Forbes, with most of his money coming from endorsements off the course. He is also sponsored by AT&T and Gatorade, and endorses the Tiger Woods PGA Tour video games series. He even has a company, Tiger Woods Design, which designs golf courses. He amasses over $1.3 billion in career earnings this past year, with 88% of it coming from endorsements. Through all of his