TORONTO: Tiger Woods, who inspired a generation of players with his other worldly talent, charisma and staggering success, took his place among the game’s greats on Wednesday as he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
During a ceremony at PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, Woods delivered a speech about his career and those who helped him along the way after his 14-year-old daughter Sam introduced him for induction.
Woods, 46, got emotional as he recounted the time his parents took out a second mortgage on their house — one that he would later pay off — so that he, at the age of 14, could compete on the American Junior Golf Association circuit.
“You have to understand I got to this position because of my upbringing, having two unbelievable parents,” said Woods. “I know that golf is an individual sport, we do things on our own a lot, for hours on end, but in my case I didn’t get here alone.
“I have unbelievable parents, mentors and friends who … supported me in the toughest of times, darkest of times and celebrated the highest of times.”
A handful of fellow PGA Tour players who are all competing in The Players Championship starting on Thursday were in attendance, including Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.
Woods was inducted alongside 11-time LPGA winner Susie Maxwell Berning, former PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and the late Marion Hollins, who broke barriers as one of the few female developers of golf courses in the sport’s history.
Ever since Woods appeared on television’s Mike Douglas Show at the age of two displaying his raw putting skills alongside Bob Hope, he has been expected to
produce the remarkable.
The American, whose career is on hold as he recovers from serious leg injuries suffered in a February 2021 car crash, exceeded the hype and has ultimately become one of the world’s most celebrated sports figures.
After a successful junior, college and amateur golf career, Woods turned professional in 1996 and won in only his fifth PGA Tour start, redefining a game that had never been dominated by a Black golfer, and raised the bar on golfers’ athleticism.
“Playing at some of these golf courses I was not allowed in the clubhouses where all the other juniors were, the color of my skin dictated that, and as I got older that drove me even more,” said Woods.
Woods was a ratings hit the moment he burst onto the scene as a professional and as the sport’s popularity grew, so did the prize money paid out at PGA Tour events.
He has won 93 worldwide events, including a record-tying 82 on the PGA Tour, and his 15 major championships trails only the 18 won by Jack Nicklaus.
Woods is also the only modern pro to win all four major golf titles in succession, taking the US Open, British Open and PGA Championship in 2000 and the Masters in 2001, a feat that became known a the Tiger Slam.
He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom following his 2019 Masters victory which came after years of surgeries and personal problems that convinced many the best golfer of his generation was finished.
“What drove me was the passion to play the game of golf. I was never going to be denied to play. I love it,” said Woods.
“One of the things Dad instilled in me, he grew up in the same era of Charlie Sifford where you had to be twice as good to be given half the chance.”
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