A tearful Tiger Woods recalled fighting racism as a youth and the support of his parents during an emotional induction ceremony for the World Golf Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
Woods was lauded for a record-breaking career in which he captured 15 major titles, second only to Jack Nicklaus’ career record 18, and won 82 US PGA Tour titles, tied with Sam Snead for the all-time record.
He thanked instructors, caddies, friends and family—many of them in attendance—for the support that helped him turn his childhood dreams into a historic sports career.
“I didn’t come here alone,” Woods said. “I had incredible parents, mentors and friends who supported me through the darkest times and celebrated the best of times.
“It’s actually a team award. You all allowed me to come here and I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
The 46-year-old American was one of four captured in a ceremony at the US PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, along with former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, late golf course developer Marion Hollins pioneer and four-time winner of the women’s title. Susie Maxwell Berning.
Woods was emotional before starting to think about his life, opening his comments by saying, “I just lost a bet on (PGA veteran Steve) Stricker, I wouldn’t cry.”
Woods recalled as a child having to search for lost golf balls to practice with and his inspirational late father Earl telling him to stop putting quarters, so “I came home a week later, I had a bag full of dollars. .”
“One of the things that drove me was his passion to play golf,” Woods said of his father.
Woods was stung by racism when he was denied access to clubhouses, so he changed shoes in the parking lot.
“You had to be twice as good to get half a chance (so) I made training so hard, hurt so much, because I want to make sure I was ready for the game.
“I was not allowed to enter the clubhouses. The color of my skin dictated that… As I got older, it drove me even more.”
While his father was learning golf, his Thai mother Kultida imbued him with toughness that would serve him well in the decades to come of competition.
Woods said he wouldn’t have become a legend “without the sacrifices of Mom and Dad, who instilled this work ethic in me to fight for what I believe in, to chase my dreams.”
“You are never given anything. Everything is earned. If you don’t go out to do the work, the effort, one time you don’t get the results and two, and more importantly, you don’t deserve it. You didn’t deserve it,” Woods said.
He collapsed when he remembered that his parents had taken out a second mortgage on their house so he could play junior events, crying when he remembered getting sponsorship deals and prize money, so “the first thing I could do was pay off that mortgage.” .”
Woods was a three-time American amateur champion who turned professional in 1996 at the age of 20. In 1997, he won the Masters by 12 strokes in an epic feat, becoming the first black golfer to win a major title. Two months later he became the number one in the world for the first time.
Woods dominated golf for the next decade, including a string of four consecutive major titles, starting at the 2000 US Open and ending with the 2001 Masters – the “Tiger Slam”.
In total, Woods has won the Masters five times, the PGA Championship four times and the US Open and British Open three times each.
‘You are a fighter’
There were hardships. Woods confessed to affairs with multiple mistresses in December 2009 and was divorced from Elin Nordegren in August 2010.
Woods struggled with knee and back injuries and underwent multiple surgeries on both, leaving him wondering if he would ever live without back pain before surgery in 2017 allowed him to play again, ending a five-year victory drought at the Tour Championship. 2018.
In 2019, Woods won the Masters for his first major title since the 2008 US Open, hugging kids Sam and Charlie from the 18th green at Augusta National as he had hugged his parents there after his Masters triumph in 1997.
Woods suffered a serious leg injury in a single-vehicle accident in February 2021 and is still recovering. He says he hopes to play a few events each year, but so far has not given a timeline for a possible return.
Woods was introduced by daughter Sam, who noted the crash in her comments.
“We didn’t know whether he would come home with two legs or not,” she said. ‘Not only will you be included in the hall of fame, but you will also stand on your own two feet here.
“This is why you deserve this, because you are a fighter. You’ve defied every chance (including) every time to be able to walk just a few months after your crash.