May 4, 2006

GOODBYE, EARL:

Earl was right all along (Ron Sirak, 5/03/06, GolfDigest.com)

If a biography were written about the father of Tiger Woods, the title would have to be "Earl Was Right."

Earl Woods was right in 1997 when, after Tiger won The Masters by 12 strokes, he said we hadn't yet seen the best of his son. We saw that in 2000 when Woods had one of the most remarkable seasons in the history of the game. Earl was right when he said Tiger would change the way the world looks at golf. Nearly a decade after Tiger turned pro, it is clear he has made the game cool, attracting better athletes to golf and teaching everyone that to be a top pro these days you have to be in shape.

And, most of all, Earl was right in the firm but loving way he raised his son. He put Tiger on the stage only when he was certain his son was ready to perform in the spotlight. The ultimate proof that Earl was right came in the unquestioned love and respect the son had for the father.

Several years back, when teenagers were just starting to pop up at professional tournaments in significant numbers, I asked Earl when he knew Tiger was ready to turn pro. Surely, I said to him, the temptation to cash in when the kid was 16 (or 17 or 18 or 19) had to have been there. Earl resisted that temptation because he didn't think it was the right thing to do. Pops said the revelation that Tiger was ready came at the 1997 British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club after his son shot a 66 in the second round and backed it up with a pair of 70s on the weekend to finish tied for 22nd place.

"I didn't want to put him out there until I was sure he could play with the big boys," Earl said. "And, more importantly, I didn't want to put him out there until I was sure that he was sure he could play with the big boys." The fact that Tiger won in his fifth start as a professional proved that Earl was right. And when Woods rolled through The Masters by 12 strokes six months later, establishing himself at the age of 21 not only as a worthy professional but also as the best in the world, it proved without question that Earl was right.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 4, 2006 8:37 AM
Comments

Thanks, Earl. I really don't give a fig about golf, but I will watch it when Tiger is in the hunt on the weekend rounds of a major.

Posted by: Rick T. at May 4, 2006 9:13 AM

Mr. Woods was the first black baseball player at Kansas State University (he broke the color barrier in the Big 7 Conference in 1951). I also heard that he did two tours in US Army in Vietnam (one as a Green Beret).

Posted by: pchuck at May 4, 2006 11:06 AM

Um, let's not get carried away here. In the late '90s Mr. Woods was quoted as saying that if he had raised Tiger to run track, he would be "kicking Michael Johnson's ass." The man had a complex. Which doesn't take anything away from his son's golfing ability, of course...

Posted by: b at May 4, 2006 11:41 AM

there's little reason to believe that wrong.

Posted by: oj at May 4, 2006 12:23 PM

There's every reason to believe that wrong, and none to believe that right.

Posted by: b at May 4, 2006 12:31 PM
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