PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Tiger Woods cried.
Woods’ 14-year-old daughter Sam, as she introduced him as a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame on Wednesday night at the gleaming new PGA Tour headquarters, said: “Dad, I inducted you into the Dad Hall of Fame a long time ago.”
Woods, 46, joining his daughter on stage, melted into his arms and lost him.
The same Woods who used to carve scorch marks on his competitors en route to his career-high 82 wins, including 15 major championships, grew weak at the sight of his daughter authoring this wonderfully poignant moment.
Sam, suitably dressed in red, was as poised in her speech and presentation as her father was in turning 54-hole tracks into victories while donning his Sunday red.
In her speech, she told an amazing story about the day she was born, the very day of the last round of the 2007 US Open in Oakmont, where Angel Cabrera won.
“In 2007, my dad got into position to make an 18-foot putt to force a US Open qualifier, which he missed by a foot,” she recalled. “He then had to rush to the airport, fly from Pittsburgh to Orlando and drive to Winnie Palmer Hospital. Five minutes after entering the hospital room, still wearing his red golf shirt, on June 18, I was born.
“He may have lost that day, but he won the greatest gift of all.”
Those words, as they should have, brought down the house, which was filled with a who’s-who of PGA Tour stars.
Sam Woods dominated the night like his father used to dominate on the golf course, and it moved him to tears.
“Shit,” said a teary-eyed Woods, trying to lighten the moment. “I just lost a bet against [Steve] Stricker that I wouldn’t cry. Thanks Sam.”
The most emotional moment came when Sam recounted Woods’ car accident in February 2021 which required multiple surgeries on his right leg and kept him out of the PGA Tour.
“We didn’t know if you would come home with two legs or not,” she said. “Now, not only are you about to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but you’re standing here on your own two feet. That’s why you deserve it, because you’re a fighter.
Woods, whose greatest triumph may have been winning the 2019 Masters after undergoing multiple back surgeries, was inducted into the Hall as much for what he has done for the game of golf as for what he has done on the golf course.
His remarkable legacy is as much about the current group of stars who sit atop the world rankings today as it is about the five Masters green jackets he won and his three US Open, three British Open and four PGA Championship wins. .
Yes, Woods was the most dominant player the game has ever seen, but that dominance, coupled with his skin color adding diversity to an all-too-white sport, has inspired the players who own the sport right now.
There may not be a better player today who hasn’t been drawn to the game or at least influenced by Woods.
“Apart from entertaining us all for 20 years and doing amazing things, he inspired the generation of players you see today,” said No. 1-ranked Jon Rahm.
“He’s everything,” said No. 2-ranked Collin Morikawa. “I grew up watching him. I wanted to compete with him. You wanted to be world No. 1. I just wanted to meet him.”
Now Morikawa, who has won two major championships in the past three years, beats him.
“When I was in high school, golf wasn’t really considered a cool sport to play yet,” Dustin Johnson said. “You were a bit of a jerk if you played golf. But Tiger made it a cool sport to play. Everybody wanted to be like Tiger.
Rory McIlroy said he “felt lucky” to have gotten to know Woods.
“There’s this kind of saying that you shouldn’t meet your heroes, and Tiger was my hero when I met him, and he lived up to expectations,” McIlroy said.
“I think every pro here owes a debt of gratitude to Tiger because this sport wouldn’t be where it is today without his impact,” said Patrick Cantlay, currently ranked No. 4.
“He created what golf is today and we are all products of that,” said No. 4-ranked Xander Schauffele. “He transformed golf.”
Scottie Scheffler, who is ranked No. 5 and won the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week, said he used to watch Woods’ best moments on YouTube in a bid to emulate him on the court. golf.
“He totally changed our lives,” Scheffler said.
Woods’ life changed a bit on Wednesday night with his destined and deserved induction.
His daughter made it a night he will never forget.