Tiger Woods: The rise of golf’s GOAT

The 2018 PGA Championship has concluded, and fans were glued to their screens having a déjà vu. Tiger Woods was hunting down another major golf championship!

The excitement was palpable without even being among the lucky ones in attendance at Bellerive Golf Course on August 10th, 2018. In the end, Brooks Koepka held off the charge from Tiger Woods and captured his second consecutive golf major of 2018.

More importantly for the game of golf, how did this moment arrive now? It seemed like a forgone conclusion that Tiger would have already surpassed the Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus’ major record of 18. Then, it seemed like Tiger Woods would never pick up a golf club again – with Nick Faldo recently unveiling that Tiger once told a fellow golfer at the prestigious Master’s dinner that he was finished golfing. His back and his left knee were finished.

The answer to this question lies in the forthcoming articles that have been segmented into three stages:

  1. The rise of golf’s GOAT
  2. The uncovering of a private life guided by temptation
  3. The redemption

The rise of golf’s GOAT

“I was an only child, and the club and ball became my playmates” stated Tiger Woods in his famous autobiography – How I play golf. With these words, Tiger’s passion for the game of golf at an early age becomes obvious.

Tiger was indeed the sole focus on his parents, Earl Woods and Kultida Woods.

With the emergence of Tiger’s passion for the game of golf, Earl Woods raised his son with one thought in mind: to be the greatest golfer of all-time.

This objective was clear when Earl learned about the achievements of Jack Nicklaus with hopes of seeing his son surpass each of them. This objective was obvious when Tiger received his first lesson on course management from his father. The boy was three years old, barely out of training pants.

Experts have discussed the impact of youth specialising in one sport. There are pros and cons.

For Tiger Woods, he became the greatest golfer of the 21st century through early sport specialisation and intensive guidance from his father.

The cons of early sport specialisation are overtraining injuries for the joint areas and the spine, and psychological issues such as burnout and sport withdrawal (Hecimovich, 2004). Tiger Woods avoided the psychological issues by experiencing great success that reinforced his (and his father’s) ambition, which made golf fun. He was not fortunate to escape the overtraining injuries, as you will see in the article titled – The uncovering of a private life guided by temptation.

For Tiger, early-sport specialisation also occurred under careful guidance.

Course management has already been mentioned and the second form of guidance from his father was mental toughness. To enhance Tiger Woods’ concentration, his father would provide distractions throughout their round of golf together. Examples included walking in his line of sight, rattling change in his pocket, and talking among other tactics.

Tiger Woods could also get the adrenaline going for a big drive or regain composure and inducing calm for an important shot. Having control over one’s emotions bodes well for handling the pressures of winning golf tournaments.

It also reveals an in-depth knowledge of oneself. Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus agreed that there is no competition with the golf course, only with oneself. Tiger understood this battle and manifested great control over himself.

Between 1997 and 2009, Tiger Woods won 71 tournaments and 14 major championships. His total earnings on the PGA tour approached $100M. In terms of endorsements, he made nearly $800M and his estimated net worth was $600M in 2009.

It seemed like a forgone conclusion that Tiger would have already surpassed the Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus’ major record of 18.

But it all came to a crashing halt…


Hecimovich, M. (2004). Sport specialization in youth: A literature review. Journal of the American Chiropractic Association41(4), 32-41.

https://bit.ly/2N3bPD4Woods, T. (2001). How I play golf. Warner Books.

Image: By U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Molly A. Burgess – http://www.americasupportsyou.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2535886

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