Golf is a game with a long and proud history, but it took a young black man from Cypress, California, to drag it into the modern era.
That man was Eldrick Tont 'Tiger' Woods.
When it came to golf, Tiger was a child prodigy. Millions of players spend their entire lives failing to break 80 on a course. Tiger did it when he was eight. He broke 70 four years later.
Child stars so often burn twice as bright for half as long. Not Woods. As a 19-year-old amateur, Tiger made his first Masters appearance, making the cut and finishing a creditable 41st. Two years later, as a pro, he would win the thing – the first of an incredible 14 major titles as part of a career that has produced 139 worldwide victories to date.
His power, athleticism, dedication to practice and wide range of shots has become a template for the modern golfer and his earning ability a template for the modern athlete, whatever the sport.
And yet he nearly threw it all away. A series of sex scandals would eventually cost him his marriage and his aura of near-invincibility and led to a string of major companies cancelling multi-million dollar sponsorship deals. Injury took its toll too, but he bounced back to reclaim his world number one spot, although he is yet to add to his impressive Majors haul and many now think he never will.
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