x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Instant expert: Tiger Woods

Get to know one of the most successful golfers of all time.

THE BASICS, PART ONE Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods is one of the most successful golfers of all time. Before personal problems and injuries derailed him, he was the world No. 1 and had won 14 major professional tournaments, second only to the legendary Jack Nicklaus, who has 18. He has been and perhaps remains the highest-paid athlete in the world, with an estimated US$90 million (Dh331mn) in winnings and endorsements in 2010.

THE BASICS, PART TWO Woods is also a force - or is that freak? - of nature. Famously introduced to the game of golf before he had reached the age of 2 by his father, Earl, he holds hundreds and hundreds of amateur, college and professional records. He was once considered all but unbeatable by his fellow pros before his missteps ended his marriage, played havoc with his psyche and made him tabloid fodder.

THE BASICS, PART THREE Tiger's game appears to be back, and that is good news for fans in the UAE. He finally won a tournament in December after a career-long drought of 107 weeks, and has increasingly flashed renewed brilliance on the course. You have a chance to see him - see the bottom of this column - ticket prices are reasonable, and it may be something you will tell your grandchildren about.

THE FEEL Tiger's uncanny sensibilities are such that he is said to have detected the 13-gram weight difference between the heaviest and lightest golf club shafts in testing in 2009 at Nike's research and development facility "The Oven" in Fort Worth, Texas. Thirteen grams! That's nothing!

HIS BEST HOLE In 2006 at The Grove in Hertfordshire, UK, Tiger eagled the 567-yard, par-5 18th hole three days in a row; he "only" birdied it in the final found, and easily won the American Express World Championship by eight strokes. "Just a little par-3," he quipped.

THE "YIPS"? HA! Biggest putt of Tiger's life? Not to minimise the 12-footer on the 72nd hole of the 2008 US Open that got him into a playoff (which he won over Rocco Mediate), but how about in 1999 at the PGA Championship in Medinah, Illinois? The 23-year-old had not won another major since the 1997 Masters, and many wondered if he would be a one-and-done flash in the pan. With Sergio Garcia charging in the final round, he needed an excruciating eight-footer for par on No. 17. He drilled it, and held off the Spaniard by one shot after leading by five.

BIG NEWS The New York Post, in late 2009, put the Woods scandal on its cover for 20 days in a row. It had put the 9/11 attacks on its cover for 19 days in a row in 2001. Says something about tabloid journalism and popular culture, at least in the US, doesn't it?

ATHLETIC GENES Tiger's father played baseball at Kansas State University, usually as a catcher. He won a varsity letter in 1952 and 1953 before going on to a stellar US military carer.

SWOOSH! Tiger is well known for his traditional red polo shirt on tournament Sundays. Less well known is that he meticulously plans - sometimes a year in advance for major events - his colour choices with the sponsor Nike for the first three rounds. He once blew a fuse in a conference call when some hapless underling thoughtlessly had him wearing black in the scorching middle of summer in the south-western US state of Oklahoma.

 

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship runs from January 26 to January 29 at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club. For details and ticket information, go to www.abudhabigolf championship.com

 

Other Tigers

"TIGER" TOM BALDWIN The Nascar modifieds stock car driver died in 2004.

"BIG TIGER" WILSON FITTIPALDI JR The Brazilian former driver and Formula One team owner is the older brother of the more successful and famous Emerson Fittipaldi.

"TIGER" TIM HENMAN The retired tennis player was a British No. 1 and world No. 4 and reached six Grand Slam semi-finals, though no finals.

DARIUSZ "THE TIGER" MICHALCZEWSKI The retired Polish-German boxer was a light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion.

BILL "TIGER" O'REILLY The Australian leg spinner was rated as one of the greatest bowlers in the history of cricket. He died in 1992.

MANSOOR ALI KHAN "TIGER" PATAUDI The legendary batsman and former captain of the Indian cricket team died in September 2011.

"TIGER" TOM PISTONE The former Nascar stock car racer, at age 82, still mentors young drivers in the US.

DAVE "TIGER" WILLIAMS The Canadian former ice hockey player, a notorious "enforcer", is the National Hockey League's career leader in penalty minutes.