“How tough to be on a son? As strong as you want him to be.”
This story is about Tiger Woods’ dad, Earl Woods.
It’s been called “one of the greatest father-son relationships in the history of sport.” He was devoted and loving, but brutally tough. A friend at all times, but antagonist, too.
Earl Woods was no normal dad. He had a vision for Tiger, his boy. There would be no variance. His son would be great. Dad would make sure.
Training for hardships — in sports, in life — started when Tiger was a toddler. Through the years Earl tested him, prodded him, taunted him incessantly.
A retired Army Lt. Colonel, Earl commented, “I tried to break him down mentally, tried to intimidate him verbally, by saying, ‘Water on the right, OB (out of bounds) on the left,’ just before his downswing.”
“He would look at me with the most evil look, but he wasn’t permitted to say anything. That’s the frustration. He couldn’t say a word.”
Earl Woods was determined to make his son special. Not only as a sportsman, but as a symbol—like Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson before him, of racial progress, of a changing America.
“He’s the bridge between the East and the West,” Earl once said.
“There is no limit because he has the guidance. I don’t know yet exactly what form this will take. But he is the Chosen One. He’ll have the power to impact nations. Not people. Nations. The world is just getting a taste of his power.”
Earl Woods’ own toughness was apparent early in life. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam as an elite Green Beret. In college he played baseball for Kansas State, earning varsity letters in 1952 and 1953. As an African-American, Earl was once forbidden from playing against a college in Mississippi because of his race. Disgusted, the entire team left in protest.
Some charged Earl as being too hard on his son. But upon his father’s death in 2006, Tiger said,
“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.”
Before prostate cancer took his life in 2006, Earl reminded his son:
“You’ll never run into another person as mentally tough as you.”
He hasn’t. Why?
Earl Woods. One Tiger Tough dad.
Tiger Woods is one of most successful golfers of all time, currently ranked at Number 1 in the world.
“Tiger Woods’ Father Dies At 74” by CBS/AP, December 17, 2009
“Earl Woods,” Wikipedia