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Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods (born December 30, 1975) is a professional golfer from the United States. He is tied for first most PGA Tour victories, second in men’s major championships, and boasts a slew of other golf records. Woods is widely recognized as one of the best golfers of all time, as well as one of history’s most well-known sportsmen. The World Golf Hall of Fame has inducted him.
Woods went professional in 1996 at the age of 20 after an impressive junior, college, and amateur golf career. He had won three PGA Tour tournaments by the end of April 1997, in addition to his first major, the 1997 Masters, which he won by a record-breaking 12 shots. In June 1997, little than a year after going pro, he became world number one for the first time. Woods was the dominant force in golf throughout the first decade of the twenty-first century. From August 1999 to September 2004 (264 weeks), then again from June 2005 to October 2010, he was the world’s number one golfer (281 consecutive weeks). During this time, he won 13 major championships in golf.
Woods’ career was defined by comebacks from personal difficulties and injuries throughout the following decade. From December 2009 to early April 2010, he took a self-imposed break from professional golf to work out marital troubles with his then-wife, Elin. Woods confessed to several affairs, and the marriage finally separated. In November 2011, he dropped to number 58 in the global rankings before regaining the top spot between March 2013 and May 2014. However, between 2014 and 2017, he had four back operations due to ailments. Between August 2015 and January 2018, Woods played in only one tournament and plummeted out of the top 1,000 golfers in the world. Woods made steady progress to the top of the game after his comeback to regular play, winning his first tournament in five years at the Tour Championship in September 2018 and his first major in 11 years at the 2019 Masters.
Woods has a slew of golf records under his belt. He has been the world’s number one player for the most weeks in a row and for the most weeks overall of any golfer in history. He has won the PGA Player of the Year title an unprecedented 11 times and the Byron Nelson Award for lowest adjusted scoring average an unprecedented eight times. Woods has the record for leading the money list ten times in his career. He has 15 professional major golf championships (second only to Jack Nicklaus’ 18) and 82 PGA Tour tournaments to his credit (tied for first all time with Sam Snead). Woods has the most major and PGA Tour victories of any current golfer. Woods is the fifth player to complete the career Grand Slam (after Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, and Jack Nicklaus), and the youngest to do it. He’s also the second golfer (after Jack Nicklaus) to win the Grand Slam three times in his career.
Woods has 18 World Golf Championships to his credit. He was also a member of the American Ryder Cup winning squad in 1999. Donald Trump presented Woods with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in May 2019, making him the fourth golfer to earn the distinction.
After a single-car crash on February 23, 2021, Woods was hospitalized in critical but stable condition and underwent emergency surgery to treat complex fractures in each leg as well as a fractured ankle. Woods stated in a November 2021 interview with Golf Digest that his full-time career as a professional golfer was done, but that he would continue to play “a few events each year.”