Earl Woods, the father of the best golfer in the world, Tiger Woods, died of prostate cancer in early May 2006 at the age of 74. Most people regarded Earl with great respect for being the architect and driving force behind Tiger’s amazing career. But to Tiger, his father meant something else.
“My dad was my best friend and my best role model, and I will miss him deeply,” said Tiger. “I am overwhelmed when I think of all the great things he accomplished in his life. He was an amazing father, coach, mentor, soldier, husband and friend. I would not be where I am today without him, and I am honored to continue his legacy of share and care “.
“It’s not often that an athlete’s father deserves so much respect and attention,” said golfer Paul Azinger.
Another great golfer, Jack Nicklaus, said that for a long time he “admired and related to the close bond” that Tiger and Earl share. Nicklaus was also 30 when his father died.
Such devotion of a son to his father deserves more than a second look. Perhaps the greatest tribute that can be said about Earl Woods is not that he raised a great golfer, but that he raised a great person and a great son.
Earl Woods was more than the father of a golfer. In college, he was a catcher for Kansas State and earned the distinction of becoming the first African American to play baseball in the Big Eight Conference.
A green beret during two tours in Vietnam, Earl rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army Special Forces.On his second tour, he met Kultida Punsawad, who was working as a receptionist in Thailand, and married her in 1969. He fought alongside the lieutenant colonel. Nguyen T. Phong of the South Vietnamese Army, a friend whom he nicknamed “Tiger” because of his courage and bravery. Woods promised Tiger Phong that he would name a son after him.
At first, Earl felt that his true purpose was to coach Tiger, who had shown the first signs of being a golf prodigy. “I knew Tiger was special the day he was born,” Earl said. “But I made it very, very clear that my purpose in raising Tiger was not to raise a golfer. I wanted to raise a good person,” Woods told Golf Digest magazine.