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On Wednesday, Tiger Woods was introduced by his 14-year-old daughter Sam into the World Golf Hall of Fame at Florida’s PGA Tour HQ. Woods was tearfully and officially inducted as the 164th member of the most exclusive country club of all time.
Woods, 46, was elected to the Hall of Fame in March 2020 and was to be inducted the following year, but due to COVID-19, the ceremony was postponed.
Wednesday’s show was so geared around Woods that it featured three short video presentations titled “GOAT,” the popular acronym for “greatest of all time.”
There was little doubt Woods belonged in the Hall of Fame. From the first time he played in a PGA Tour event at the Greater Milwaukee Open in August 1996, Tiger Woods ignited the world of golf unlike any man or woman before or after his arrival.
Tiger Woods is Golf’s King Midas.
His achievements, influence, and earth-shattering impact on golf and culture attracted new fans, spiked TV ratings, and increased prize money for golfers much less talented than himself. He appealed to everyone in true Cablinasian fashion. For many Black golfers today and for the past 25+ years, Tiger Woods has been the sole inspiration and model of golf excellence.
“I think every pro out here owes a debt of gratitude to Tiger because this sport wouldn’t be where it is today without his impact,” Patrick Cantlay, who won the $15 million prize last year as FedEx Cup champion, said earlier this week.
Woods, the first player of Black and Asian heritage to win a major at the 1997 Masters when he was 21, also spoke of the discrimination he felt as a youth. He told one story about going to a country club to play a tournament.
“So I was denied access into the clubhouses. That’s fine. Put my shoes on here in the parking lot,” Tiger Woods said. “I asked two questions only, that was it. Where was the first tee, and what was the course record? Not complicated.”
While he may have chosen then to handle issues of racism and discrimination by letting his play do the talking, many of his Black supporters, much like Michael Jordan, wished he spent his prime actually using his voice regarding the plethora of issues faced by our communities. Yet, like MJ’s playing career, Tiger Woods was always tight-lipped about his sociopolitical views.
Many non-golf fans may recall at first memory Woods’ salacious Thanksgiving night in 2009, his scandal-ridden dating history, or recent car accident. Yet, with 82 wins on the PGA Tour, along with 15 majors, he was and still is golf’s GOAT.