Tiger Woods Father Dies at 74

By Golf Channel NewsroomMay 3, 2006, 4:00 pm
Earl Woods, father of Tiger Woods, died Wednesday after a 20-year run of failing health.
Woods, 74, had his first heart attack in 1986 and since then has had several more heart attacks, multiple bypass surgeries, prostate cancer and diabetes.
Earl and Tiger Woods
Earl Woods helped his son open the $25 million Tiger Woods Learning Center in February of this year.
Tiger made the announcement on his website, saying, 'Im very saddened to share the news of my fathers passing at home early this morning.
'My dad was my best friend and greatest role model, and I will miss him deeply. Im overwhelmed when I think of all of the great things he accomplished in his life. He was an amazing dad, coach, mentor, soldier, husband and friend. I wouldnt be where I am today without him, and Im honored to continue his legacy of sharing and caring.
'Thank you to all who are sending condolences to my family and our Foundation. We are truly blessed to have so many who care during this difficult time.'
Earl Woods was born in Manhattan, Kansas, March 5, 1932, the youngest of six children. His mother, Maude, was college-educated but was forced to work as a cleaning woman in the homes of less-educated families. His father, Miles, was a brick mason. His parents died within two years of each other, when Earl was 11 and 13 years old, and Woods 29-year-old sister assumed the responsibility of keeping the family together.

He attended Kansas State on a baseball scholarship, becoming the first person of his race to play in the Big Seven (now Big 12) Conference. Woods joined the Army in the early 1950s after two years at K-State. After two years in ROTC, Woods decided to make military life a career. 'If I hadn't made that decision,' he said in an interview, 'there would be no Tiger Woods.'

Woods met and married his first wife, Barbara, and had two sons and a daughter from the union.

Over the course of a 20-year military career, Woods rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, serving a stint in the Green Berets and two tours of duty in Vietnam, the second when he reenlisted at 40.
His first tour began in February 1962. His job the first time around was at a desk in Saigon, though he did not see combat. It was also in Southeast Asia ' in Thailand ' where he met his second wife, Kultida Punsawad - nicknamed Tida ' who was a U.S. Army employee. They met in Bangkok and were married in 1969.
After the tour ended, Woods went to military school at Ft. Bragg. He later moved to New York City, where he became executive officer for the ROTC department at City College of New York. After three and a half years in New York, he completed Airborne school and was stationed at Fort Bragg. One day, while serving in the Sixth Special Forces Group of the Green Berets, he was called in by the commanding general.
'Earl,' the general told him, 'I've got an emergency requisition here, and your name has come up for assignment to Vietnam.'
So Woods began his second tour overseas in August 1970. He went originally as an adviser, assigned in the Binh Thuan Province. That is when he met the first Tiger and his sons namesake - Lieut. Col. Vuong 'Tiger' Phong, the ARVN province chief in Lam Dong.
After his Army service, Woods became the materials manager of the Delta Rocket Program at McDonnell Douglas in Southern California, until his retirement in 1988. The family settled in Cypress, 35 miles southeast of Los Angeles
Earl played golf for the first time in the boroughs of New York City at the age of 42, in 1974, eventually achieving a 1-handicap. In 1975, Earl and Tida had a son, their only child together. His name ' Eldrick, so named by his mother. Eldrick was a combination of the first letters of several male family members. Earl grudgingly agreed when it was determined that the child would be called Tiger in honor of Earls old friend from Vietnam, Tiger Phong.
When Tiger arrived, Earl vowed to spend as much time as possible with the baby. So Earl would often sit the infant Tiger near him as he practiced his golf swing in his garage. When Tiger was a toddler, he carried around the house a putter that Earl had sawed off for him. And by the time he was 10 months old, he was swinging the putter.
Earl said that it is from this early exposure that Tiger grew to love the game of golf. While he was still a preschooler and before he could read, Tiger was already playing in and winning tournaments.
Tiger shot a 48 on a nine-hole course by the age of 2. In 1978, also at 2 years old, the little prodigy appeared on 'The Mike Douglas Show' in a putting contest with comedian Bob Hope.
I make it very, very clear (in the book Training a Tiger) that my purpose in raising Tiger was not to raise a golfer, said Earl in a Golf Digest interview in 2001. I wanted to raise a good person. And hopefully I gave specific enough directions that parents won't go overboard and use their child's success to validate their own self-worth.

Earl taught Tiger early on the importance of giving back. And that is what Tiger has done, with Earls considerable help. Earl helped jump-start the Tiger Woods Foundation in 1996 and got behind Tigers concept of a learning center to give back to the community of underprivileged in Orange County, Calif. The organizations stated goal is to present a program to help kids build self-esteem, become more confident, and make a difference in their families, schools, communities, and their lives. The Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif., opened just recently.
Earl Woods was a best-selling author of 'Training a Tiger: A Fathers Guide to Raising a Winner in Both and Golf and Life' and 'Playing Through: Straight Talk on Hard Work, Big Dreams and Adventures with Tiger,' and he was also the President of the ETW Corporation and the Tiger Woods Foundation.
Contibutions to the Earl Woods Scholarship Fund can be sent to:
The Earl Woods Scholarship Fund
c/o Tiger Woods Learning Center
One Tiger Woods Way
Anaheim, CA 92801

Related Links:
  • Lerner's Journal: Earl's Legacy is His Son
  • Statement From Tiger Woods
  • PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem statement
  • Getty Images

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