Young Tiger Woods reveals the moment he stopped fearing other golfers

It goes without saying that Tiger Woods is one of the greatest, and most fascinating, athletes of all time. But figuring out exactly what makes him tick has been a perplexing question for all those following him. He’s become fiercely guarded of his personal life over the years as media attention around him has intensified – understandably so – which is why it’s often the oldest interviews that double as Tiger’s most telling.

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By: Dylan Dethier

A few months ago, my colleague Dylan Dethier went deep on this interview as part of his million-part Tiger Woods YouTube project. It’s a great read and, hungry for a bit more Tiger Woods content in my life, I decided to give it a re-read. And when I did, there was one moment that stuck out to me above the rest:

The moment Tiger Woods stopped being intimidated by other golfers.

At the time of the interview, Tiger Woods had already won two of his soon-to-be three U.S. Junior Am Championships, he was a junior in high school still being courted by college golf coaches, and he hadn’t even started winning U.S. Amateur Championships yet.

But with so much still ahead of Tiger, he took a moment to look backwards to tell a story about he stopped being intermediated by his fellow golfers.

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Tiger was 11 at the time, playing his first year in the 11-12 age division at the Junior Worlds when, on the very first tee, he watched an older player in the field drive the first green.

“It intimidated the hell out of me,” 17 year-old Tiger says in the video below.

But while he was shaken, Tiger shrugged it off. He played his game, and when he got off the course, he found out that he shot a lower score than the player than intimidated him on the first tee. That, Tiger said, was the moment everything changed.

“My dad and I had a long talk about it,” he said. “After that, nothing’s ever intimidated me. Ever.”

The Lesson: Build on the little little victories

It’s an interesting nugget from Tiger which, to me, highlights the important of winning little victories on the golf course. Golfers of all levels can learn from the lesson: You don’t need to shoot your low score every time you hit the course. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about building momentum, in your round and in your game.

Sometimes, that means setting a small, short-term goal — like shooting a lower score on the day over your opponent, or parring a hole, or hitting a fairway — and building on it from there. In Tiger’s case, it was a simple as trying to shoot a lower score on the day than the golfer who shocked him on the first tee. That got the ball rolling, and the rest is history.

Watch the full video below:

Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Director of Game Improvement Content at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees all the brand’s service journalism spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University and in 2017 was named News Media Alliance’s “Rising Star.” His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.