Tiger Woods is an American golfer and one of the most successful and highly paid golfers of all time with a record streak of 264 weeks as the highest ranked player. He was born Eldrick Tont Woods on December 30, 1975, in Cypress, California to Earl and Kultida Woods and nicknamed “Tiger” in honor of his father’s friend Col. Vuong Dang Phong, with whom Earl had served during the Vietnam War. Woods was introduced to golf at the age of 2 by his father, who had also been an amateur golfer in his time. He was a child prodigy and began making a name for himself at a very early age. He won his first tournament at the age of 8, competing in the 9–10 age group boys’ event at the Junior World Golf Championships, a contest that he won 6 times including 4 consecutive victories between 1988 to 1991.
Woods studied at Western High School, where, at the age of 15, he became the youngest U.S. Junior Amateur champion. He won the event three years in a row between 1991 to 1993, and remains the only player to have accomplished this. The following year, he became the youngest winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship. After graduating from high school in 1994, Woods was offered several scholarships and he chose to attend Stanford University. He won several tournaments while at Stanford and was named Stanford’s Male Freshman of the Year.
He left college after two years and turned pro in August 1996. He was named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year as well as the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year that year. He also got endorsement deals with Nike and Titleist, the highest paying endorsement deals in the history of golf. The first major title he won was the 1997 Masters Tournament and rose to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings just two months later, which was the fastest climb to the top in golf history. He continued on his winning streak with 8 wins in 1999, and six consecutive wins in 2000.
In the 2000 U.S. Open, he broke or tied 9 tournament records in a performance which has often been praised as the finest play in the history of golf. He was renamed Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year which is an honor no other athlete has ever had before. Woods became the youngest player to have won a career grand slam, that is, winning all the major championships. He did not win any major tournaments between 2003 to 2004, but made a comeback in 2005, winning six official PGA Tour events . In 2006, he quit mid season when his father passed away, but returned and picked up form by the end of the year with six consecutive tour wins. Over the next few years, Woods often withdrew or withheld participation in various tournaments due to knee and leg injuries. He won the 2008 U.S. Open by beating Rocco Mediate in an intense competition, but failed to win any majors in 2009.
Woods married a Swedish model named Elin Nordegren in October 2004 and the couple had two children. In 2009, reports of his various marital infidelities came to light which made him the subject of a great deal of controversy and negative media attention. Not only was his performance suffering, he also lost some of his endorsement deals such as Accenture and Gillette. His wife filed for divorce and retained custody of both his children. The divorce settlement was estimated to be $100 million. Woods issued a formal apology for his behavior to his fans and announced that he would be taking some time off from golf. He returned in 2010 but failed to bag any major victories until 2012, when he won his 73rd PGA Tour and beat Jack Nicklaus’s record for most PGA wins.
Tiger Woods is 37 years old and although his rankings have fallen, he is still considered as one of the greatest golfers the world has ever seen. He was single handedly responsible for drawing popular attention to golf and increasing TV viewing of golf tournaments. He was inducted to the California Hall of Fame in December 2007 by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver. His net worth is estimated to be around $600 million.