Athlete. Born Eldrick Tont Woods on December 30, 1975, in Cypress, California, as the only child of an African-American Army officer father and a Thai mother. His father began calling Woods by the nickname "Tiger" in honor of a fellow soldier and friend who had the same moniker.
Woods learned to play golf as a child. His father, Earl, served as his teacher and mentor. Around the age of eight, Woods had become extremely proficient at the game, showing off his skills on such television shows as Good Morning America.
He studied at Stanford University, and won a number of amateur U.S. golf titles before turning professional in 1996. Woods shot to fame after winning the U.S. Masters at Augusta in 1997—with a record score of 270—at the age of 21. Woods was the youngest man to earn the title, and the first African-American to accomplish this feat.
In his first appearance at the British Open later that year, Woods tied the course record of 64. The next few years brought even more successes, including four US PGA titles, three U.S. Open wins, three Open Championship wins, and three U.S. Masters wins.
In 2003, among Woods' five wins were the Buick Invitational and the Western Open. The next year, Woods won only one official PGA Tour championship. While he may have had some challenges on the course, his personal life was running smoothly. Woods married his longtime girlfriend Elin Nordegren, a Swedish model, in October of 2004.
Returning to dominate the sport, he won six championships in 2005 and was voted the PGA Tour Player of Year for the seventh time in nine years.
Woods experienced a great personal loss in 2006. His father died in May after battling prostate cancer. Woods remarked on his website at the time, "My dad was my best friend and greatest role model, and I will miss him deeply." Despite his grief, Woods returned to golf and won several events, including the PGA championship and the British Open.
The next season was marked by many wins personally and professionally. His wife gave birth to the couple's first child, Sam Alexis Woods, on June 18, 2007. After taking some time off to welcome his daughter, he won the World Golf Championship and US PGA Championship in August 2007.
The next month, Woods' winning ways continued, garnering the top spot at the BMW Championship and The Tour Championship. He was named Player of the Year by the other participants in the PGA Tour and won his eighth Arnold Palmer Award for being the lead money earner on the tour.
Woods won the U.S. Open on June 16, 2008, in a 19-hole playoff, overcoming sporadic pain in his left knee from arthroscopic surgery performed on April 15. Woods shot a par four on the first and only hole of sudden death while American Rocco Mediate, 45, settled for a bogey.
The sudden death duel at Torrey Pines in San Diego followed an 18-hole playoff, which saw the two finish at par. In that playoff, Woods led Mediate by three shots after the first ten holes. Mediate then birdied three of the next five holes and took the lead. But on the final hole, Woods birdied while Mediate shot par, forcing the sudden death playoff."I think this is probably the best ever," Woods said. "All things considered, I don't know how I ended up in this position, to be honest with you." The victory gave Woods his third U.S. Open championship and 14th major title. He's now just four behind the all-time record held by Jack Nicklaus.