Since his record-breaking win at the 1997 Masters, Woods has been the biggest name in golf and his presence in tournaments has drawn a huge fan following. Some sources have credited him for dramatically increasing prize money in golf, generating interest in new PGA tournament audiences, and for drawing the largest TV ratings in golf history.
Buick Invitational: In first start of PGA TOUR season at the Buick Invitational, came from two strokes back in the final round to post seventh consecutive TOUR victory, dating back to the 2006 Open Championship. Victory was fifth career Buick Invitational triumph, his third event with five-plus victories (CA Championship and Bridgestone Invitational, both six times), and the 55th of his PGA TOUR career.
Woods grew up in Orange County, California. He was a child prodigy who was introduced to golf before the age of two by his athletic father, Earl Woods. Earl was a single-digit handicap amateur golfer who also was one of the earliest African-American college baseball players at Kansas State University. Tiger's father was a member of the military and had playing privileges at the Navy golf course beside the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, which allowed Tiger to play there. Tiger also played at the par 3 Heartwell golf course in Long Beach, as well as some of the municipals in Long Beach.
In 2000, Woods won six consecutive events on the PGA Tour, which was the longest winning streak since Ben Hogan did it in 1948. One of these was the U.S. Open, where he broke or tied nine tournament records in what Sports Illustrated called "the greatest performance in golf history", in which Woods won the tournament by a record 15-stroke margin and earned a check for $800,000. At age 24, he became the youngest golfer to achieve the Career Grand Slam. At the end of 2000, Woods had won nine of the twenty PGA Tour events he entered and had broken the record for lowest scoring average in tour history. He was named the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, the only athlete to be honored twice, and was ranked by Golf Digest magazine as the twelfth-best golfer of all time.
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Woods had a much anticipated return to golf in 2009, when he performed well. His comeback included a spectacular performance at the 2009 Presidents Cup, but he failed to win a major, the first year since 2004 that he had not done so. After his marital infidelities came to light and received massive media coverage at the end of 2009 (see further details below), Woods announced in December that he would be taking an indefinite break from competitive golf. In February 2010, he delivered a televised apology for his behavior, saying "I was wrong and I was foolish." During this period, several companies ended their endorsement deals with Woods.
When Woods first joined the PGA Tour in 1996, his long drives had a large impact on the world of golf, but he did not upgrade his equipment in the following years. He insisted upon the use of True Temper Dynamic Gold steel-shafted clubs and smaller steel clubheads that promoted accuracy over distance. Many opponents caught up to him, and Phil Mickelson even made a joke in 2003 about Woods using "inferior equipment", which did not sit well with Nike, Titleist or Woods. During 2004, Woods finally upgraded his driver technology to a larger clubhead and graphite shaft, which, coupled with his clubhead speed, again made him one of the tour's longest players off the tee.
Won seven times en route to capturing the inaugural FedExCup, cruising through the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup with two wins and a T2 in three starts. Captured 13th career major championship (second all-time to Jack Nicklaus' 18) and finished the year with 61 official PGA TOUR victories, fifth all-time. Adjusted scoring average was 67.79, matching own record set in 2000. With 60 official rounds, won his seventh career Vardon Trophy and also captured the Byron Nelson Award.