With numerous victories under his belt, Tiger Woods is one of the greatest golfers of all time. He is definitely one of the most famous athletes in modern times, not to mention one of the wealthiest.
But aside from his accolades, golf equipment, and controversies, what else do we know of Tiger Woods? We’re glad you asked! Below are ten facts about Woods that only a few people are aware of.
He Suffered From Severe Myopia
A lot of people didn’t know it at the time, but Tiger Woods was extremely near-sighted before 1999. Having an eyesight of 11 diopters, he even commented that he could be considered legally blind without glasses or contacts (which are hard to wear while golfing, by the way).
Luckily, things took a turn for the better when Woods underwent successful laser eye surgery in 1999. It was rumored that he did extensive research on Lasik beforehand, consulting doctors and fellow golfers (those who had it, anyway) alike. Their advice helped Woods overcome any fears regarding Lasik surgery, and he promptly underwent the procedure shortly thereafter. The ophthalmologist who performed it was Mark Whitten, who also operated on former New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing. With his vision corrected, he played in several tour events, culminating in many championships to his name.
In 2007, Woods noticed his eyesight becoming poor again, so he decided to undergo Lasik surgery a second time. “My vision started slipping,” he reportedly said at The Players Championship that year. “I was getting headaches from squinting all the time.” He had the procedure after the Masters.
To this day, Woods is among the many athletes endorsing Lasik surgery. He’s currently one of the spokesperson for TLC Laser Eye Centers.
He Used to Stutter As a Kid
Tiger Woods may be a child prodigy at golf, but that doesn’t mean he’s flawless. As you’ve learned above, he had to undergo Lasik surgery to correct his severe near-sightedness. Another thing he had to overcome as an adult was his childhood stuttering. In a 2009 interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes, he mentioned how challenging it was to deal with stuttering as a kid.
“You’re always called upon in elementary school to give speeches, or to answer a question,” Woods said. He went on to share how frightening it was to answer even the most simple questions, explaining how the words often got lost somewhere between his brain and his mouth.
Tiger Woods eventually managed to overcome his childhood stutter by enrolling at speech classes for two years. In a touching letter to a young boy named Dillon (who also struggled with stuttering), he shared that he also spent his nights talking with his dog before sleeping. He then encouraged Dillon to keep working hard, saying that he’ll be great at anything he wants to do.
By overcoming his childhood stutter, Tiger Woods showed everyone that anyone can turn a lifelong challenge into a motivating force as long as they don’t give up. He also serves as a role model for fans struggling with speaking problems.
He Named His First Daughter After Him (Sort Of)
Sam Alexis Woods was born to Woods and his then-wife Elin Nordegren in 2007. While usually quiet when asked about his family, he mentioned in a later interview that he named his daughter Sam because that’s what his father used to call him growing up.
“We wanted to have a name that would be meaningful to either side of the family, my side or Elin’s side, because she was born [the day after] Father’s Day,” Woods said. “It just happened to fit. My father had always called me Sam since the day I was born. He rarely ever called me Tiger. I would ask him, ‘Why don’t you ever call me Tiger?’ He says, ‘Well, you look more like a Sam.’”
At any rate, Woods was very enthusiastic as a father during Sam’s early years. Forgoing sleep, he took turns with his wife in changing their daughter’s diapers as well as feeding her. And as his father did before him, Woods let her daughter handle a golf club when she turned two.
“She couldn’t quite hold it,” Woods recalled with a smile. “But it was there.”
He Loves James Bond Films
Like any average person, Tiger Woods likes watching flicks and listening to music. Some of the movies he liked include Caddyshack and 48 Hours, while he listens to bands U2 and Boyz II Men, as well as to Janet Jackson.
But when it comes to his favorite movies, he said he loves all James Bond films. When the fourth Craig outing Spectre was released, he even organized a private early-screening for his family and friends. And to show his appreciation, he tweeted about it, saying the film was incredible while posing in front of a giant promotion for the film.
Additionally, the Bahamas estate owned by Tiger Woods was used as a set location for Casino Royale. It just goes to show how much he loves Bond. Should he ever decide to become a movie star, maybe he’ll be a great candidate as the new 007.
He Always Wears Red During Final Rounds
Aside from their clubs, fans usually observe what their favorite golfer wears during their most significant games. And as his career progressed, more and more people began noticing that Tiger Woods typically wears red during the last days of every tournament he’s played in.
When asked about it, Woods simply stated that he does it for his mom’s sake. Apparently, his mother feels that red is a powerful color. By reading something red during his games, she believes it will bring his son good luck. Heeding his mother’s advice, Woods made it a habit to wear red on significant events.
“I’ve worn red ever since my college days basically, or junior golf days – big events on the last day,” Woods said. “I just stuck with it out of superstition, and it worked. I just happened to choose a school that actually was red, and we wore red on our final day of events. So it worked out.”
So far, wearing red has helped Woods win nearly all the games he participated in. And since his victory at the 1997 Masters, he also took to wearing red during the initial rounds of subsequent tournaments.
He Recently Shocked Audience With His Shoes
As one of Nike’s endorsers, fans were expecting Woods to appear at the 2022 Masters tournament wearing a pair of Nike footwear. So it surprised everyone when he strode to the green wearing the Packard model in FootJoy’s Premiere Series instead.
This switch was immediately observed by onlookers, jumpstarting various discussions among fans and circulating photos of Woods’ shoes on social media.
When asked about his shoes, Woods’ reply was brief. “I have very limited mobility now with the rods and plates and screws that are in my leg,” he explained. “I needed something different, something that allowed me to be more stable. That’s what I’ve gone to.”
He further went on to say that he’s currently working on a new design with Nike, which he expects to be completed soon. Nike would later issue a statement shortly after people spotted Woods’ new shoes.
“Like golf fans around the world, we are delighted to see Tiger back on the course. He is an incredible athlete, and it is phenomenal to see him returning to the game at this level. His story continues to transcend sport and inspire us all. As he continues his return, we will work with him to meet his new needs,” the company said.
He Was Coached By Butch Harmon
By the time he started his career as a PGA Tour player, Tiger Woods was already notable for his long drives, excellent iron plays, top-notch putting, and excellent all-around game. All these was thanks to Butch Harmon, who helped refine Woods’ technique.
Son of 1948 Masters Tournament champion Claude Harmon Sr., Claude “Butch” Harmon Jr. has been working in the golf industry since 1965. He was a PGA Tour player from 1970 to 1971, even winning the 1971 inaugural Broome County Open. And he was already working as a golf instructor long before meeting Tiger Woods. At one point, he even served as the personal instructor to King Hassan II of Morocco!
Anyway, Woods worked with Harmon from mid-1993 (when he was still an amateur) until 2004. By mid-1997, Harmon was helping Woods improve his full swings, resulting in more consistency, better distance control, and enhanced kinesiology. These efforts eventually paid off, as in 1999 Woods won his first PGA Championship.
After Woods and Harmon parted ways in 2004, Hank Haney took on the role as Woods’ coach. Unfortunately, Woods’ driving accuracy declined under Haney’s guidance, though he still continued to win tournaments. After Haney resigned in 2010, he was replaced by Sean Foley.
He’s Had Four Caddies Since He Started
From carrying your golf clubs to keeping an eye for your ball, caddies can definitely add value to a golfer’s game. And since embarking on his golfing career, Tiger Woods has worked with up to four caddies.
First, there was Mike “Fluff” Cowan, who caddied for Woods from his debut right up until March 1999. As one of the best-known caddies in the PGA Tour, Cowan has also caddied for several other famous golfers, including Ed Sabo, Peter Jacobsen, and Jim Furyk. Woods parted ways with Cowan in early March 1999 after the Nissan Open in Los Angeles. According to the Washington Post, this was due to Cowan publicly revealing his salary during a 1999 Golf Magazine interview. Despite this, they remained friends.
Cowan was later replaced by Steve Williams, who became close with Woods and helped him refine his key shots and puts. But after Williams caddied for Adam Scott in the U.S. Open, Woods began replacing him with his friend Bryon Bell on an interim basis. Joe LaCava will later replace Bell, and he remains Woods’ caddie to this day.
He’s One of the Richest Athletes in the World
With an estimated net worth of roughly $800 million, it’s safe to count Tiger Woods among the richest golfers in the world.
Initially, he only made money playing golf. But as he became more famous, many of the world’s top sporting brands began flocking to him to ask for his endorsement. For example, he had a 5-year contract with Gatorade that’s worth around $100 million, as well as a $20 million yearly income from Gillette. He even gets paid $1.5 million just for appearing in golf tournaments and events!
And despite the fallout from his extramarital affairs, he came out mostly unscathed. Many of the brands he endorsed decided to stay by his side, and the divorce only cost Woods around $100 million (which is small, relatively speaking).
He Changed the Way We Golf
A reason why so many other golfers had a hard time keeping up with Tiger Woods was due to the course itself. Thanks to Woods’ powerful swings and sheer competitiveness, he practically turned every tournament he played in into a game of power and distance. Other players had to use drivers with oversized heads, as well as undergo rigorous training just to keep up.
To literally level the playing field, many golf courses across the US began “tiger-proofing” their courses. That is, they lengthened the course by adding yardage to their tees. This helped reduce the edge of long-hitters like Tiger Woods, and it forever changed how the game is played. Where before the longest hitters often win the tournaments, now it is the best ball hitters who end up with the trophy.
Play Golf Like Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods once claimed he won a putting contest at just two years old. With 82 PGA Tour victories under his belt, that might as well be true. And while you may not be a golf prodigy as Woods or Jack Nicklaus, that doesn’t mean you can play golf like him. So learn everything you can about Tiger Woods (not just the facts above), and start improving your game.
If you’ve decided to do just that, type “I’ll play golf like Tiger Woods!” in the comments section below. And as with the piece on Gene Sarazen, here’s a bonus for sticking with us until the end:
His Actual First Name is Eldrick
Tiger Woods’ full real name was Eldrick Tont Woods. His first name, Eldrick, was chosen by his mother because it starts with E and ends with K (his parent’s first names began with these letters). Meanwhile, Tont is a traditional Thai name. And as mentioned above, his father also called him Sam from time to time. As for his moniker Tiger, he got that from South Vietnamese Colonel Vuong Dang Phong, who was also nicknamed Tiger and who fought with Earl Woods during the Vietnam War.