Edrick "Tiger" Woods is a professional golfer, some say the greatest golfer of all time.
He was born in 1975 in California, and legend has it he showed an interest in golf at age 6 months, before he could even walk, as he watched his father hit golf balls into a net and imitated his swing. Earl Woods, Tiger's father, was a US Army lieutenant colonel who fought in the Vietnam war, where he met his mother, Kultida Punsawad, a native of Thailand. (Thailand was an American ally in the war and a major staging ground for attacks on Vietnam. It was also a favourite place for soldiers to take their R&R, thus feeding a boom in tourist-oriented prostitution. I have no idea if this is how Tiger's mother and father met, and it doesn't really matter anyway. The two recently divorced.). Tiger gained his nickname from a friend of his father's, Vuong Dang Phong, who was killed in the Vietnam war.
Tiger is a true multi-racial person. Earl is half black, one-quarter native American and one-quarter Chinese. Kultida is half Thai, one-quarter Chinese and one-quarter white. On Oprah Winfrey Tiger said he was "Cablinasian", a word he coined which combines Caucasian, black, Indian, and Asian.
Tiger's father loved golf, and he knew that golf, with its air of upper class privilege and country club living, did not welcome people of colour. So while he educated his son about racism in America, he also pushed him to play golf. He is quite candid about his desire to make Tiger a golf prodigy, and he succeeded. Tiger's parents gave him a sawed-off putter to practice with as soon as he could stand up on his own, and he scored 11 on the first hole he ever played, a 410-yard par-4, when he was just 18 months old. He appeared on the Mike Douglas Show at age 2, putting with Bob Hope. He shot 48 for nine holes at age 3 and was featured in Golf Digest and on the TV show "That's Incredible!" at age 5. He made his first birdie at age 6 on a 91-yeard par-3. Tiger's father, meanwhile, was practicing what he called psychological warfare on the boy, trying to distract him by yelling, screaming, and throwing things at his son while he was swinging. Undaunted, Tiger won the Optimist International Junior tournament six times at ages 8, 9, 12, 13, 14 and 15. He won the U.S. Junior Amateur Championships in 1991 (when he was the youngest winner in history), 1992 (when he was the first to win the title more than once), and 1993, and the U.S. Amateur title in 1994 (again, the youngest winner ever), 1995, and 1996 (the first to win three consecutive titles). Tiger enrolled in Stanford University in 1994, but dropped out in 1996 to turn pro.
Once he turned pro he seemed virtually unstoppable, and quickly became quite famous and very rich. He won the Las Vegas International and the Disney/Oldsmobile Classic, earning big bucks, on top of which he signed lucrative endorsement deals with Nike ($40 million) and Titleist ($20 million). Tiger was voted Sports Illustrated magazine's Sportsman of the Year in 1996. In 1997 he became the youngest person ever to win the Masters - and by the largest margin in a major championship in the 20th century. He was the first person of colour ever to win a major golf championship, and the youngest player - and obviously first person of African or Asian descent - to hold the #1 ranking in professional golf. Well, I could go on and on about the titles Tiger has held, but I'd recommend instead that you visit www.tigerwoods.com, where there'll be much more up-to-date and in-depth information than I can digest and regurgitate for you. I will mention only that in 2000 he was the youngest player ever to complete a grand slam, winning golf's four major championships: the British Open, the PGA Championship, the Masters, and the US Open. Tiger has won more money and related endorsements at golf than anyone else in history.
In 2003 he became engaged to Swedish blond beauty Elin Nordegren. Perhaps her beauty is distracting, for in September 2004 Vijay Singh became the world's #1 golfer, dethroning Woods, who had held that spot for an amazing 264 consecutive weeks. Woods and Nordegren married in 2004.
Woods is quite popular in Thailand, where he has taken part in tournaments, and sends King Bhumibol Adulyadej personal birthday greetings in Thai, an occurence which is widely, and proudly, reported in the press.