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Tiger Woods

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Born Eldrick T. Woods on December 30, 1975, in Cypress, Calif., golf phenom Tiger Woods has had a career nothing short of spectacular. His father, Earl Woods, began teaching his son the game when he was just a year old. In fact, Tiger's skills were so good at such a young age that it landed him an appearance on the Mike Douglas Show in 1978. The two-year-old Woods' appearance put him up against legendary comedian Bob Hope in a putting contest. At three, he shot a 48 over nine holes at one of his hometown courses. When Tiger was five he appeared on television's "That's Incredible" and in Golf Digest magazine.

After winning six junior championships between the ages of eight and 15, Tiger went on to become the youngest U.S. Junior Amateur Champion in history, a feat he would repeat the following year, making him also the only player to ever win more than once. He would even go on to win it for a third consecutive time the following year. At 16 he competed in the Nissan Los Angeles Open, his first PGA Tour event. At 18, Woods won the U.S. Amateur Championship, the youngest to accomplish this feat. Next, he enrolled at Stanford University and at 19 successfully defended his Amateur Championship title, the second of three consecutive titles.

In August 1996 Tiger turned pro and immediately was approached by Nike and Titleist to sign endorsement deals worth a total of $60 million. On the golf course he nearly earned his first million through his play in just eight events. Subsequently he was named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine. In 1997, at age 21, Tiger became the youngest winner of The Masters tournament, his first major win, setting a record for the largest margin of victory ever at the event (an astounding 12 strokes). He also led the tour in earnings with a record $2.06 million; and in just his 42nd week as a pro Woods had claimed the number-one spot in the world golf rankings.

1998 would prove to be a bit of a slump for Tiger. While focusing more on improving his swing than winning, due to his changing body, he only won one event and dipped to fourth overall on the money list. This was somewhat a good thing, because at the onset of his career there was criticism and speculation about the possibility that Tiger was so good that he would ultimately be bad for the game.
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