5 Things to Know
How he started playing golf
Woods was introduced to golf by his father, Earl, a single-figure handicap golfer who had playing privileges at the Navy course at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, Calif. Earl was hitting balls into a net in his garage when an 11-month-old Woods got out of his highchair and executed a perfect golf swing with a plastic toy club, albeit left-handed. He switched to playing right-handed weeks later. At 18 months old, Woods hit balls on a range for the first time at the Navy course, then played his first hole — recording an 11 on a 410-yard par 4.
How he got his name
Woods was born Eldrick Tont Woods, but was quickly nicknamed “Tiger” as a child by his Earl. There are two reasons: Earl's best friend during two tours of duty in the Vietnam War was a Vietnamese colonel, Vuong Dang Phong, who died as a prisoner of the Communists. Phong was nicknamed “Tiger” for his prolific jungle fighting skills and courage. Earl and Phong were separated at the end of the war and Earl did not know of his death. Earl said that from Woods' birth, he knew he would achieve global fame and that seeing ‘Tiger Woods' in the news could facilitate a reunion with Phong. Earl also said he passed on the name to Woods in the hopes of inspiring Phong's bravery in his son.
First-ever billion dollar athlete
By taking out the $10 million FedEx Cup title in 2009, Woods became the first ever billion-dollar athlete, eclipsing his nearest competitors in Michael Jordan and Michael Schumacher. His race to $1 billion started with a record $40 million Nike contract when he turned pro in 1996, and was cemented when he entered 2009 having amassed an estimated $895 million in career earnings. He then secured $10.5 million in prizemoney, the FedEx Cup bonus and more than $100 million in off-course earnings to make sports business history.
Woods endured one of sport's most infamous scandals in 2009. In November, The National Enquirer published a story alleging Woods was having an affair with New York nightclub hostess Rachel Uchitel. Days later, Woods crashed his Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant and a neighbor's tree at 2.25 am near his Florida home. Additional women then came forward in tabloid newspapers and magazines, claiming affairs with Woods. Woods lost major sponsorship deals, spent 45 days in a clinic and did not return to golf until the 2010 Masters. In 2017, Woods was arrested under the suspicion of DUI when police found him asleep at the wheel of a car. Woods was cleared of DUI but a toxicology report found five prescription drugs in his system.
Woods' niece, Cheyenne Woods, is an LPGA Tour player who has won on the Ladies European Tour, but his children, Sam and Charlie, don't appear to want to follow in dad's golfing footsteps. Sam and Charlie are avid soccer fans, who play the world game and are fans of European powerhouse FC Barcelona. In 2017, Woods posted photos on social media of his children meeting Barcelona superstars Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.