Tiger Woods is considered one of the greatest golfers of all-time, as his 15 major championships leave him second only to the legendary Jack Nicholas in golf’s elite. Last month, Tiger pulled off arguably one of sports greatest ever comebacks when he won his first major in 11 years at The Masters. The 42-year-old overcame the odds and clinched his fifth green jacket, putting him odds-on now for this weekend’s PGA Championship too.
While the historic win may have come as a welcome change for Tiger compared to recent years, it would not have been a surprise.
It is the same mentality that was ingrained into him as a boy by his father Earl Woods.
He revealed during his 2017 book: “Unprecedented: The Masters and Me” why his dad called him the “assassin” on the course.
He wrote: “There was a difference between winning and beating.
Tiger Woods with his fatehr Earl
Tiger Woods one his first major in 11 years in April
He had trained me to be that ‘cold-blooded assassin’ on the course, by applying more of the principles he had learned and used in the military
“I wanted to win, sure, but I wanted to win by as many shots as possible.
“My mum liked me to ‘stomp’ on the other player, to use her word.
“I started to become what my dad called me, an ‘assassin’ on the course.
“I developed that attitude at an early age, without intending to.
It was just who I was, the more pressure there was in a tournament, the more I had to make a shot to keep a match going, or to win, the calmer I felt.”
Tiger claimed his fifth green jacket
Earl Woods was his son’s biggest fan
Earl, who sadly passed away in 2006 following a long health battle, was a US Army veteran who served two tours in Vietnam.
Tiger revealed how his dad’s military training helped make him into an assassin and win his first major event – the 1997 Masters – at the age of just 20.
Tiger struggled on his first nine holes of the first round, turning at four-over par, and looked sure to crash out.
He added: “The mental training for golf that my dad had put me through proved itself during that short walk from the ninth green to the tenth tee.
“He had trained me to be that ‘cold-blooded assassin’ on the course, by applying more of the principles he had learned and used in the military.
This weekend the PGA Championship is at Bethpage Black Course
“I needed this training if I was going to be able to deal with life as a professional golfer.
“Maybe it sounded arrogant that I entered the tournament to win, but that is how I felt and I wasn’t going to pretend otherwise.”
In a remarkable turnaround on the back nine of the 1997 Masters, Tiger pulled off the seemingly impossible.
He made four birdies and an eagle gave him a six-under-par score of 30 on the back nine, leaving him in the clubhouse on a respectable two-under-par after his first round.
Then, in the second and third rounds, he scored the best rounds of each day (65-66) to open up a commanding nine-shot lead.
A final-round 69 gave Tiger a tournament record 270 (−18), bettering the previous record of 271 set by Jack Nicklaus in 1965.
Tiger will hope to win the PGA Championship
The dramatic turnaround was far from his last though, as the golfing world learned last month when Tiger muscled through a tightly-packed Augusta leaderboard to win by one shot.
It was the fairytale return he had hoped for, after enduring a dark spell through injury since 2014.
Tiger underwent career-saving spine fusion surgery in 2017 and sealed an impressive comeback season last year with his first win for five years.
This weekend he will look to take that success one step further as he tees up for the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black Course of Long Island in the state of New York – where he is currently odds-on to win.
Victory could propel him back to the top of the world rankings for the first time since March 2013.
Tiger has form around Bethpage’s Black course too, having led after every round when he won the 2002 US Open there as well as finishing joint sixth when the course hosted the same tournament in 2009.