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Golf-Thankful Woods enters Hall of Fame: ‘I didn’t come here alone’

FILE PHOTO: Thankful Woods enters the Hall of Fame:'I didn't come here alone'
FILE PHOTO: December 19, 2021; Orlando, FL, USA; Tiger Woods reacts to Cameron Kuchar draining a long putt on the 17th green during the final round of the PNC Championship golf tournament at the Grande Lakes Orlando Course. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

March 10, 2022

By Frank Pingue

(Reuters) – Tiger Woods, who inspired a generation of players with his otherworldly talent, charisma and overwhelming success, took his place among the game’s greats on Wednesday when he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

During a ceremony at PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Woods delivered a speech about his career and those who had helped him along the way after his 14-year-old daughter Sam introduced him to the induction.

Woods, 46, got emotional as he recounted how his parents took out a second mortgage on their home – one he would later repay – so he could compete on the American Junior Golf Association circuit at age 14.

“You have to understand that my upbringing brought me to this position because I have two incredible parents,” Woods said. “I know golf is an individual sport, we do a lot alone, for hours, but in my case I didn’t come here alone.

“I have incredible parents, mentors and friends who … have supported me through the hardest and darkest of times and celebrated through the highest of times.”

A handful of other PGA Tour players, all competing in the Players Championship starting Thursday, were in attendance, including Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.

Ever since Woods appeared on television at the age of two on The Mike Douglas Show, showing off his raw putting skills alongside Bob Hope, he’s been expected to produce the remarkable.

The American, whose career is on hold as he recovers from serious leg injuries sustained in a car crash in February 2021, has surpassed the hype and has ultimately become one of the world’s most iconic sports figures.

‘BURNING DESIRE’

After a successful junior, collegiate, and amateur golf career, Woods turned professional in 1996, winning in just his fifth start on the PGA Tour. He redefined a game never before dominated by a black golfer and raised the bar for golfer athleticism.

“Playing at some of these golf courses, I wasn’t allowed to go into the clubhouses that all the other juniors were in, my skin color dictated that, and as I got older that drove me even more,” Woods said.

Woods was a ratings hit when he turned pro, and as the sport’s popularity grew so did the prize money paid out at PGA Tour events.

He has won 93 events worldwide, including a record-breaking 82 on the PGA Tour, and his 15 major championships are only behind the 18 won by Jack Nicklaus.

Woods is also the only modern professional to have won all four major golf titles in a row, winning the 2000 US Open, British Open and PGA Championship and the 2001 Masters, a feat that became known as the Tiger Slam.

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom after his 2019 Masters victory, which came after years of surgery and personal struggles that convinced many of the best golfers of his generation he was at the end.

“What drove me was the passion to play golf. I would never be denied to play. I love it,” Woods said.

“One of the things Dad taught me is that he grew up in the same era of Charlie Sifford where you had to be twice as good to get half the chance.”

Woods was inducted alongside 11-time LPGA winner Susie Maxwell Berning, former PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and the late Marion Hollins, who broke barriers as one of the few female course developers in the sport’s history.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Additional reporting by Steve Keating; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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