“Oh my goodness. Oh wow! In your life have you seen anything like that?”
It’s an iconic observation made by Verne Lundquist in 2005 as he watched Tiger Woods‘ magical chip shot roll toward the hole on the 16th green at The Masters.
The ball stopped short of the cup for a moment, then dropped into the cup amid a thunderous roar. Tiger added another fabled moment to a career that earned him a spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame this past week.
As we prepare for the upcoming Masters in Augusta and leave the Valspar Championship behind, let’s take a look at how one of the greatest in golf was recently honored.
Woods was emotional throughout his speech and paid homage to those who’d helped him throughout his fabled career.
“I know that golf is an individual sport,” he said at the end of his speech. “We do things on our own a lot for hours on end, but in my case, I didn’t get here alone. I had unbelievable parents, mentors, friends, who allowed me and supported me in the toughest times, the darkest of times, and celebrated the highest of times.”
Woods weaves a story of a golf-obsessed kid who kept getting better
As Woods worked through his speech, it became hard to tell which came first: His childhood, or golf? The two matured in unison, and Woods loved every minute of it.
When he was six years old, his mom took him to Heartwell Golf Park in Long Beach. She asked the course pro if Tiger could play. The pro asked to see Tiger hit a few shots.
“Well, I hit a few shots, and he says, okay, he’s got unlimited balls,” he said. “So that’s where I ended up starting playing.”
He talked about how he’d play for money at the age of eight, how he’d hide out on golf courses to gather up lost balls he then used in tournaments, and how his dad would take him golfing late in the day with one rule: If you lose a ball, we stop playing. In his speech, he continued:
“Part of understanding how to shape shots and knowing where I hit on the face, where I would hit–it all started then. “I was never going to be denied to play, I love it. I had this burning desire to be able to express myself through golf.”
Woods later went on to talk about how, as a teenager, his parents took out a second mortgage on their home so he could play in the American Junior Golf Association, a league laden with college scouts looking for top talent.
“Without the sacrifices of Mom who took me to all those junior golf tournaments, and Dad, who’s not here, but who instilled in me this work ethic to fight for what I believe in, chase after my dreams, nothing’s ever going to be given to you, everything’s going to be earned. If you don’t go out there and put in the work, you don’t go out and put in the effort, one, you’re not going to get the results, but two, and more importantly, you don’t deserve it. You need to earn it.”
Tiger Woods holds the record for earnings, wins
Though Woods’ career was epic, one still wonders what could’ve been had he avoided injuries and the high-profile fiascos that hampered the back half of his career.
He was never able to surpass Jack Nicklaus’s record of 19 major wins. However, it’s almost certain that he could’ve accomplished the feat had he not played only 19 tournaments from 2014 to 2017.
Nicklaus played in 216 more tournaments than Woods, yet has nine fewer career wins. Woods only missed the cut in about 10% of the tournaments he played in, while Nicklaus missed around 18%. For comparison, Jordan Spieth has missed the cut roughly 21% of the time.
Woods is the all-time leader in earnings with more than $120 million and wins with 82 (tied with Sam Snead). Perhaps what’s most astounding about Tiger’s career is the rate at which he won. It took Tiger 368 events to hit 82 wins, while it took Snead 585 events to accomplish the same feat.