Saturday, May 06, 2006

A great champion mourns the loss of his Dad, friend and mentor.

Who could forget the big bear hug that Tiger Woods shared with his Dad after winning the 1997 Masters?

From the first time we heard the name Tiger Woods, it was so very apparent the pivotal role his Dad played in his life.

So it was with great sadness when Tiger announced the passing of his father, Earl, on Wednesday.

I’m very saddened to share the news of my father’s passing at home early this morning. My dad was my best friend and greatest role model, and I will miss him deeply. I’m overwhelmed when I think of all of the great things he accomplished in his life. He was an amazing dad, coach, mentor, soldier, husband and friend. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him, and I’m honored to continue his legacy of sharing and caring. Thank you to all who are sending condolences to my family and our Foundation. We are truly blessed to have so many who care during this difficult time.

December 2004 was the last time Mr. Woods attended a tournament involving his son. He was present in Augusta, GA in April 2005 when Tiger captured his fourth Masters title. However, unlike the three previous Masters titles when Mr. Woods and his son would embrace just off the edge of the 18th green, Tiger’s Pop couldn’t be at the golf course. But there was no doubt that Tiger was thinking of him. "I can't wait to get home to see him and give him a big bear hug", a misty-eyed Tiger said at the post-tournament news conference.

One would get the impression that Earl Woods was a dictatorial father who pushed his son into the game of golf, given the often cold-hearted precision & perfection with which Tiger pursues his craft.

The fact of the matter is the exact opposite was true as Mr. Woods explained in a 2001 interview with Rush Limbaugh:

Unequivocally I will deny that I ever pushed Tiger. Tiger came in the garage as company for me, and he entertained me and I entertained him while he learned the golf swing. Later, Tiger chose golf as the sport of his choice. I tried to get him to play baseball and he would tell me, “Daddy, it gets in the way of my golf.” At two years old he memorized my work phone number. He would call me each and everyday religiously, because he knew exactly what time I got off, at 4:12, and he would ask me if he could practice with me that day. I would hesitate until there was a doubt in his mind, and then I would say yes. Oh, he was so happy! He was so happy. This happened everyday. We would go to the driving range, where Tiger learned all the things that he displays now. I taught the value of hard work, the sheer joy of practicing.

It was very apparent the love and admiration Tiger Woods had for his Dad. It was equally obvious that the feeling was mutual.

I’m very proud of Tiger. Not as a golfer, but I’m proud because he’s a better person than he is a golfer.

In the last thirty of his 74 years on this planet, Earl Woods raised a champion on the PGA tour.

More importantly, he appeared prouder in the fact that he raised a champion in life.

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