Athlete Eldrick Tont Woods, better known as Tiger Woods, was born on December 30, 1975, in Cypress, California, the only child of an African-American Army officer father and a Thai mother. When Woods was a child, his father began calling him "Tiger" in honor of a fellow soldier and friend who had the same moniker. Around this same time, Woods learned to play golf. His father, Earl, served as his teacher and mentor. Around the age of 8, Woods had become extremely proficient at the game, even showing off his skills on television shows such as Good Morning America.
Woods studied at Stanford University, and won a number of amateur U.S. golf titles before turning professional in 1996. He shot to fame after winning the U.S. Masters at Augusta in 1997—with a record score of 270—at the age of 21. Woods was the youngest man to earn the title, and the first African-American to accomplish this feat.
In his first appearance at the British Open later that year, Woods tied the course record of 64. The next few years brought even more successes, including four US PGA titles, three U.S. Open wins, three Open Championship wins, and three U.S. Masters wins.
In 2003, among Woods' five wins were the Buick Invitational and the Western Open. The next year, Woods won only one official PGA Tour championship. While he may have had some challenges on the course, his personal life was running smoothly. Woods married his longtime girlfriend Elin Nordegren, a Swedish model, in October of 2004.Returning to dominate the sport, he won six championships in 2005 and was voted the PGA Tour Player of Year for the seventh time in nine years. Woods experienced a great personal loss in 2006. His father died in May after battling prostate cancer. Despite his grief, Woods returned to golf and won several events, including the PGA championship and the British Open.
He won the World Golf Championship and US PGA Championship in August 2007. The next month, Woods' winning ways continued, garnering the top spot at the BMW Championship and The Tour Championship. He was named Player of the Year by the other participants in the PGA Tour and won his eighth Arnold Palmer Award for being the lead money earner on the tour.
Woods won the U.S. Open on June 16, 2008, in a 19-hole playoff, overcoming sporadic pain in his left knee from arthroscopic surgery performed on April 15. Woods shot a par four on the first and only hole of sudden death while American Rocco Mediate, 45, settled for a bogey.
The sudden death duel at Torrey Pines in San Diego followed an 18-hole playoff, which saw the two finish at par. In that playoff, Woods led Mediate by three shots after the first ten holes. Mediate then birdied three of the next five holes and took the lead. But on the final hole, Woods birdied while Mediate shot par, forcing the sudden death playoff."I think this is probably the best ever," Woods said. "All things considered, I don't know how I ended up in this position, to be honest with you." The victory gave Woods his third U.S. Open championship and 14th major title. He's now just four behind the all-time record held by Jack Nicklaus.
Two days later, Woods announced he would miss the rest of the season because his left knee requires more reconstructive surgery. He also revealed he suffered a double stress fracture in his left tibia two weeks before the U.S. Open tournament, ignoring doctors' advice to take six weeks off to let it heal.
Although Woods' comeback had not been as auspicious as he'd hoped, he remained No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings, and continued to be the leader in top 10 finishes overall. But after losing the PGA title to Yang Yong-eun, Woods finished the year without a single major win—the first time he had done so since 2004.
On December 11, 2009, Woods apologized to fans, admitting to infidelity. He announced that he would be taking a hiatus from golf in order to tend to his family. Several days later, he lost his endorsement deal with management company, Accenture, and was suspended from his Gilette endorsement. Other companies, including Nike, Tag Heuer and EA Sports, continue to stand by Woods.
Woods made a return to golf in April of 2010, but the golfer was not quite at the top of his game. His first competition at the 2010 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, ended in a fourth place spot for Woods. On May 9, after not making the cut for the Quail Hollow Championship, Woods withdrew from The Players Championship during the fourth round due to a neck injury. Woods made his return to golf four weeks later at The Memorial Tournament, making his worst finish in the tournament since 2002. At the 2010 U.S. Open, Woods finished the tournament in a tie for fourth place. In the summer of 2012, Woods won the AT&T National, becoming the second-leading golfer for PGA wins. He beat Jack Nicklaus's long-held record for the spot.