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Tiger Woods Makes Emotional Speech at Hall of Fame Ceremony

By: | Thu 10 Mar 2022

TIGER WOODS became the 164th inductee to golf’s Hall of Fame in Florida. And as he accepted perhaps the greatest honour of his career, the 15-time major champion chose not to mention any of his 82 PGA Tour wins, major victories or numerous operations.

Instead he spoke of the sacrifices his parents made to allow him to follow his dreams, fighting back tears when talking about his late father, Earl, who told the young Tiger that he would have to earn everything he wanted.

“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,” Woods said. “But two, and more importantly, you don't deserve it. You need to earn it. So that defined my upbringing. That defined my career.”

He was introduced by his 14-year-old daughter Sam, who said her father preaches to her and 13-year-old brother Charlie the same message he learned from his late later.

On an emotional evening, Woods was the headline act in an induction class that included retired PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, three-time U.S. Women's Open champion Susie Maxwell Berning and the late Marion Hollins, the first woman to develop prominent golf courses.

Woods has, of course, been responsible for changing the face of professional golf for ever. It is taken as read that he attracted new fans, caused television ratings to soar and brought mind-boggling prize money to the sport. He was inducted on the eve of  the Players Championship, which boasts a staggering $20 million prize fund, with almost $4m going to the winner. The entire purse was $3.5m in 1997 when Woods made his debut. 

Woods, the first player of Black and Asian heritage to win a major at the 1997 Masters when he was 21, also spoke of the discrimination he felt as a youth. He told one story about going to a country club to play a tournament, and he wasn't allowed in the clubhouse like the other juniors because of the colour of his skin.

"I was denied access into the clubhouses. That's fine. Put my shoes on here in the parking lot,” he said. “I asked two questions only, that was it. Where was the first tee, and what was the course record? Not complicated.”

The ceremony was moved from the World Golf Village, which held previous ceremonies in Florida, to the new PGA Tour headquarters located about a mile away from where Woods first rose to fame.

There was the appearance on the Mike Douglas Show when he was a two-year-old prodigy, and the three straight U.S. Junior Amateur titles. It was on the famous par-3 17th hole at the TPC Sawgrass in the 1994 U.S. Amateur when Woods first delivered the uppercut that would define his celebration.

That was the first of an unprecedented three straight U.S. Amateur titles. After four years as a pro, he already had the career Grand Slam and 24 victories on the PGA Tour. The first major was the 1997 Masters, which he won by 12, one of 20 records.

When he was 30, he already had 46 wins on tour and 10 majors, including a sweep of the majors, a feat no one had ever accomplished.

Woods now has a record-tying 82 wins on the PGA Tour, along with 15 majors, three behind the gold standard set by Jack Nicklaus.

He never wanted to be looked upon as a golfer but rather an athlete. He wasn’t the first to find the gym, but his devotion to strength and fitness created a template for others to follow.

“Tiger changed people’s perception of golf from a game to a sport,” Padraig Harrington said.

Woods' popularity was such that Finchem was able to turn that into television contracts that sent purses soaring.

Finchem also created the World Golf Championships events, and a Presidents Cup to give the burgeoning group of International players from outside Europe a chance to compete in team matches. And he kept the PGA Tour strong with sponsors during the recession of 2008.

Maxwell Berning won only 11 times on the LPGA Tour, but she played in an era when juggling family and golf led to short careers.

She won the U.S. Women’s Open three times in a six-year span. She also won the Women's Western Open, a major in her era. She noted she earned a total of $16,000 from her three Women's Open titles.

“I was wondering if you’d like to swap checks,” Berning said to Woods.

Hollins financed and developed a golf course for women in New York and was the brains behind two fabled golf courses in California - Cypress Point and Pasatiempo. Hollins, who died in 1944 at age 51, was a visionary in golf course architecture, a confidante of Alister MacKenzie and a U.S. Women’s Amateur champion.

Renee Powell received the inaugural Charlie Sifford Award for her spirit in advancing diversity in golf, while the Lifetime Achievement recognition went to Peter Ueberroth and the late Richard Ferris, both part of the ownership group at Pebble Beach.

Golfers Who Should Be in The World Golf Hall of Fame

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