PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA (AP) — Sam Woods was beautiful in Wednesday red, just as her father was in Sunday red.
On a foggy Wednesday night, the oldest of Tiger’s two children made jokes and shone brightly in a red outfit as she introduced him for induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame. And the 14-year-old remained unfazed when discussing bad times she had with her father.
“About a year ago, you were locked in a hospital bed at one of your lowest points and one of the scariest moments of your life and ours,” Sam recalled, alluding to her father’s single-car accident in February, which nearly killed him. “We weren’t sure if you’d returned with two legs or not.” You’re about to be admitted into the Hall of Fame, and you’re also standing on your own two feet.
“Because you’re a fighter, this is why you deserve it.”
Woods proudly walked to the podium at PGA Tour headquarters for his rightful induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame, 44 years after stumbling onto the stage of “The Mike Douglas Show” as a 2-year-old and entertaining Bob Hope, Jimmy Stewart, and the host by hitting golf balls into a net and hitting a few putts. It’s been a game-changer of a voyage.
“You must understand that I am in this position as a result of my upbringing, which included two amazing parents. “However, I did not arrive here by myself,” says the narrator. Woods remarked. “I understand that golf is a solitary activity. We spend a lot of time doing things on our own for hours on end, yet I didn’t get here by myself. I had incredible parents, mentors, and friends who encouraged and supported me through the toughest of times, the darkest of times, and the happiest of times.”
Former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and three-time US Women’s Open champion Susie Maxwell Berning were also admitted. Marion Hollins, a visionary and trailblazer, was also recognized posthumously.
Maxwell Berning, 80, addressed Woods during her entrance speech.
“I know it’s hard for you to believe, Tiger, but I won all of my tournaments before you were born,” she remarked, laughing. “By the way, Tiger, the total winnings from my three US Opens were $16,000.” I was hoping to exchange checks with you. “Perhaps, if not all, at least one, of us could achieve it?”
Woods kept a grin on his face the entire time.
Sam Woods, his mother, Tida; son, Charlie; and girlfriend, Erica Herman sat in the front row.
Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Billy Horschel, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson, Zach Johnson, Keegan Bradley, Mackenzie Hughes, and Tom Hoge were among the PGA Tour players in attendance. Ben Crenshaw, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Mark O’Meara, Davis Love III, Sandy Lyle, Karrie Webb, Juli Inkster, and Nancy Lopez Russell were among the 27 members of the Hall of Fame in attendance.
Serena Williams, Jack Nicklaus, and Tom Brady all made video tributes.
They had all gathered to observe the man who had altered the game’s dynamics.
Woods, 46, became pro in 1996 after winning three straight US Junior Amateur titles and three consecutive US Amateur crowns. In his first ten starts on the PGA Tour, he won three times.
Then he won the 1997 Masters by 12 strokes, making him the first African-American to triumph at Augusta National Golf Club.
Woods became the thread that drew the sport forward. Purses began to grow substantially, and television ratings skyrocketed. More athletic, stronger players took up the game as a result of his presence. His teammates followed him into the gym, and the game became more powerful.
His impact on sports advertising and fashion was enormous. Golf has become popular among minorities. And a generation of kids aspired to be like Tiger Woods.
His accomplishments are as long as one of his classic drives from his heyday. The 15 major championships and a record-tying 82 PGA Tour titles. A record 142 straight cuts were made, and he topped the official world rankings for a record 683 weeks – 13 years. 11 PGA Tour Player of the Year Awards is a new high.
He is the youngest player to complete the career Grand Slam, winning the 2000 British Open at the Old Course at St. Andrews at the age of 24. He won the 2000 U.S. Open by 15, the 2000 Open by 8, the 2000 PGA in a playoff, and the 2001 Masters by two to become the only golfer to win four consecutive professional major championships, known as the Tiger Slam. He also won the 2008 U.S. Open despite a broken leg and won his fifth Masters in 2019 after spinal fusion surgery (his fifth back surgery, to go along with five surgeries on his left knee).
The list could go on indefinitely.
“Even though I never met my grandfather, Earl Woods, who was my father’s most significant role model, I feel like I can hear his voice every day urging me to “train hard, fight lightly,” Sam Woods stated. ‘This is an old special forces proverb that he instilled in my father, who now tells Charlie and me.’ It not only teaches us that we must work hard in order to obtain what he desires, but that hard work will pay off in the end.”
When Sam was born, Woods was still sporting his Sunday red after finishing runner-up in the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont in Pennsylvania. Woods traveled to the Winnie Palmer Hospital after rushing to the airport and flying to Orlando. For the first time, he became a parent within five minutes of his arrival.
“He may have lost that day, but he earned the most precious gift of all,” Sam smiled. “While composing this speech, I learned that no matter what life throws at us, we always emerge stronger and together.”
“As the saying goes, “train hard, fight easy.”
Before commencing his 17-minute address, Woods hugged his daughter on the platform. He talked about his upbringing, which was at times challenging due to his skin tone, the difficult times he had recovering, and the many celebrations he had.
Woods explained, “I had this burning need to be able to express myself in this game of golf.” “One of the things my father instilled in me was that he grew up in the same era as Charlie Sifford (the first black member of the PGA Tour), and that’s why my son is named after him: you had to be twice as good to be given half a chance.” So, as Sam stated, that understanding and that drive, train hard, fight easy.
“I made practicing so difficult, so painful, because I wanted to make sure I was ready when game time came around.” Just so I could play in a tournament, I struck hundreds of balls, my hands bleeding and throbbing.
“I understand that golf is a solitary activity. We spend a lot of time doing things on our own for hours on end, yet I didn’t get here by myself. I had incredible parents, mentors, and friends who encouraged and supported me through the toughest of times, the darkest of times, and the happiest of times.”
He cried a few occasions, especially when he mentioned his mother and father.
“Without the sacrifices of Mom, who drove me to all those junior golf tournaments, and Dad, who isn’t here but instilled in me a work ethic to fight for what I believe in and follow after my aspirations, nothing will ever be given to you; everything will have to be earned,” he said. “If you don’t go out there and work, if you don’t go out there and put in the effort, you won’t get the results, but more importantly, you don’t deserve it.” It’s something you’ll have to work for.
“As a result, that summed up my upbringing. That was the turning point in my career.”
And what a career it has turned out to be.