A living legend. Tiger Woods has been called one of the greatest golfers to ever play the game — but his journey in the spotlight has been a roller-coaster ride full of highs and lows.
The California native was a child prodigy, making his first-ever TV appearance at the age of 2 on The Mike Douglas Show in 1978 to show off his golfing skills. He turned pro in 1996 after competing on the collegiate level at Stanford University.
“I’ve always figured that why go to a tournament if you’re not going there to try and win. There’s really no point in even going,” he said in a 1996 interview with Curtis Strange while making his professional debut at Greater Milwaukee Open. “That’s the attitude I’ve had my entire life, and that’s the attitude I will always have. As I’ve explained to my dad, second sucks. Third is even worse. I want to win. That’s my nature.”
The golfer went on to score multiple wins over the years at the events such as the PGA Tour. At 24, he became the youngest to win a career Grand Slam at the British Open in 2000. He was also honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019.
Woods has suffered many injuries throughout his athletic career, with the earliest occurring in 1994 when he underwent his first knee surgery, followed by several procedures on his back.
As he was gearing up to turn 40 in 2015, the golfer discussed the possibility that he might not be able to return to playing golf following surgery for a pinched nerve.
“It’s not what I want to have happen and it’s not what I’m planning on having happen. But if it does, it does,” he told Time magazine. “I’ve reconciled myself to it. It’s more important for me to be with my kids. I don’t know how I could live with myself not being able to participate in my kids’ lives like that. That to me is special. Now I know what my dad felt like when we’d go out there and play nine holes in the dark.”
Woods shares daughter Sam and son Charlie with ex-wife Elin Nordegren. The pair split in 2009 after five years of marriage after reports of the athlete’s infidelity surfaced in the National Enquirer and Us Weekly.
One of his mistresses, Rachel Uchitel, spoke out about her involvement with Woods in a January 2021 HBO Max documentary titled Tiger. “I regret the mistakes that I made,” she said. “But people came at me like they wanted to blame me for the fact that a married man cheated on his wife.”
Woods was injured in a single-car collision in Rancho Palos Verdes, California in February 2021. “Mr. Woods was extricated from the wreck … by Los Angeles County firefighters and paramedics, then transported to a local hospital by ambulance for his injuries. The traffic investigation is being conducted by investigations from LASD Station,” a statement from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department read.
His manager, Mark Steinberg, told Golf Digest that he suffered “multiple leg injuries” and would undergo surgery.
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Scroll down to take a closer look at Woods’ ups and downs through the years.