By Stacy M. Brown | NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
(NNPA) – When he arrived on the PGA Tour and captured his first professional victory at the Las Vegas Invitational in 1996, Tiger Woods appeared destined to stand among golf’s immortals.
And throughout his record-setting career, no one could ever accuse Woods of being just a mere mortal.
At an emotional ceremony to induct Woods into the World Golf Hall of Fame, the usually guarded and composed legend was reduced to tears. His daughter, Sam, issued a heart-warming induction speech.
“Dad, I inducted you into the Dad Hall of Fame a long time ago,” the 14-year-old remarked.
One year ago, in February 2021, Woods suffered debilitating injuries in a stunning car accident in California that required multiple surgeries to his right leg.
While the golfing hero has never spoken publicly about the accident (only revealing through social media that he feared losing his leg), Sam provided insight into the state of the Woods family.
“We didn’t know if you’d come home with two legs or not,” she said. “Now, not only are you about to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but you’re standing here on your own two feet. This is why you deserve this because you’re a fighter.”
Woods found it difficult to keep his emotions intact as he took the podium to receive his enshrinement.
“Crap, I just lost a bet to Stricker that I wouldn’t cry. Thank you, Sam,” Woods stated.
During his 17-minute speech, Woods talked about his parents’ influence on him and the discrimination as a Black teen.
“One of the things that Dad had instilled in me is that he grew up in an era, same era as [Pro Golf’s first Black player] Charlie Sifford and why my son is named after Charlie, is that you had to be twice as good to be given half a chance,” Woods exclaimed.
“Well, playing at some of these golf courses, I was not allowed in the clubhouses where all the other juniors were. The color of my skin dictated that. As I got older, that drove me even more,” he continued.
Woods noted that being denied access into the clubhouses motivated him.
“Put my shoes on here in the parking lot,” he said. “I asked two questions only. That was it. Where was the 1st tee, and what was the course record? Not complicated.”
He noted that his family didn’t have the financial means to play in major junior golfing events, but ultimately, they made enormous sacrifices.
“Obviously, we didn’t know that we were going to have enough money for me to go to college or a top college or be recruited,” Woods told the crowd that included Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and fellow inductees former PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem, three-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Susie Maxwell Berning and Marion Hollins, a trailblazer who made a name as both a golf course designer/architect and a former U.S. Women’s Amateur champion.
“So my family made a tough decision, and at the age of 14-1/2, we took out a second mortgage, so I could go out and play the AJGA Tour. Mom stayed at home. Dad traveled. And I went out and played the AJGA Tour on our second mortgage,” he recalled.
“So 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.”
With 82 all-time PGA TOUR victories, Tiger Woods is tied with Sam Snead for the most wins in PGA TOUR history. In addition, his 15 major championships trail only Jack Nicklaus (18).
His career scoring average counts as the lowest in PGA TOUR history, and his 14-1 record going into the final round of a major with at least a share of the lead, remains unsurpassed.
Fittingly, Sam Woods recounted one final day loss at the 2007 U.S. Open that turned into a big win for her dad.
“My dad found himself in a position to make an 18-foot putt to force a U.S. Open playoff, which he missed by a foot,” Woods stated with a laugh. “He then had to rush to the airport, fly from Pittsburgh to Orlando, and drive to the Winnie Palmer Hospital. Within five minutes of walking into the hospital room, still wearing his red golf shirt, on June 18, I was born. He may have lost that day, but he won the greatest gift of all.”