Where History Meets Art - Stories Behind the Stuff

Tiger Woods Golf Great

Tiger Woods Golf Great

LiveAuctionTalk.com:  by Rosemary McKittrick

Photo courtesy of Hunt Auctions.

I love to play golf, and that’s my arena. And you can characterize it and describe it however you want, but I have a love and a passion for getting that ball in the hole and beating those guys.

— Tiger Woods

By the time he was 11 months old, Earl and Kultida Woods knew their son Tiger was born to play golf.  Tiger could barely stand up and yet he managed to crawl out of his high chair, pick up a toy golf club and smack a golf ball dead on into a net his dad set up in their Cypress, Calif., garage. 

Just to show it was no accident, the toddler did it a second time.

It was obvious to Earl how much Tiger enjoyed hitting golf balls.  Even though he was a baby Earl let him practice as much as he wanted.  By the time he was 3-years-old, Tiger could play golf as well as many adults.  His dad was his first coach.  

If ever a child was destined to grow up and become one of the best players in golf history, it was Tiger Woods.

“From the beginning, Tiger had a beautiful, fundamentally sound golf swing,” Earl said.  There was only one problem.  He was left-handed. 

Earl said in the middle of a swing one day Tiger stopped, walked around the other side of the ball, changed to a right-handed grip and then hit the ball into the net perfectly with a right-handed swing.  Earl couldn’t believe it.

When Tiger was 8-years-old his dad told him he could see that extra gear in his son that all great athletes have and Tiger could call upon it anytime.  Tiger didn’t always win in the early days but he always placed close to the top.

Earl taught him how to pick the right golf club for each different stroke.  He also taught him how to keep his eye on the ball at all times. 

“As a kid, I might have been psycho, I guess, but I used to throw golf balls in the trees and try and somehow make par from them. I thought that was fun,” Tiger said.

Tiger went on to become the youngest player in 1984 to win the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship.  He was the youngest player to win the U.S. Amateur Championship.  He was also the youngest player at age 24 in 2000 to win the Grand Slam, a series of four golf tournaments.

Being Asian and African-American Tiger proved you didn’t have to be snowy white to win.  He has become a symbol for multi-racial identity in golf.   

“I love to play golf, and that's my arena. And you can characterize it and describe it however you want, but I have a love and a passion for getting that ball in the hole and beating those guys,” he said.

Tiger has won 79 PGA Tour wins and 14 major golf championships.  He’s 43. 

Despite a slump in recent years just about anything that touches this kind of greatness is going to be of interest to collectors.  It’s as though some of Tiger’s magic might actually rub off. 

On Sept. 16, Hunt Auctions featured its Sports Memorabilia sale in Chicago.  A selection of Tiger’s memorabilia was offered.  Here are some current values.

Tiger Woods 

Limited Edition Print; autographed; Tiger in a follow through; 25 inches by 31 inches;  $460. 

Photograph; Woods, Nicklaus, and Palmer; autographed by all three; 18 inches by 44 inches;  $1,495.  

Nike Cap; tan; tournament worn; autographed;  $2,300.  

Shirt; purple and white stripped knit; AT&T National Tournament worn; autographed; 2007;  $7,475. 

Shirt; white knit; Bridgestone Tournament worn; autographed; 2007;  $10,350.         

Rosemary McKittrick

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