Over 40 days, GOLF.com is rolling out Tiger Woods’ 40 biggest moments. Our ranking started on Nov. 21 and will culminate on Dec. 30, which is Tiger’s 40th birthday. That’s 40 Tiger moments. In 40 days. Ranked. Click here to learn more about our list.
Tiger’s 40 Biggest Moments: No. 19 – The 1996 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year
“He will transcend this game and bring to this world a humanitarianism which it has never known before.”
OK, so maybe not.
But he sure did make a splash on the sporting scene.
As evidence: those weighty words from his father, Earl Woods, as quoted in a Tiger profile by Gary Smith that ran in Sports Illustrated in 1996.
Remember that issue? The one with Tiger on the cover? Revealing him as SI’s Sportsman of the Year?
It was no small honor. It added Tiger to a roster of Sportsman of the Year recipients that dated back to 1954 and included the likes Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Muhammad Ali.
And Woods had just turned pro, too.
The recognition—and the accompanying profile—heightened the hubbub around Tiger, who already walked amid a swirl of expectations, none loftier than those laid down by his own dad.
In Smith’s piece, Earl Woods went on to hail his son as the “Chosen One” and predicted that he’d have the “power to impact nations. Not people. Nations.”
No pressure, Tiger.
On the course, at least, he pretty much lived up to his father’s pledges.
In 2000, Sports Illustrated honored him again as Sportsman of the Year, the only athlete ever to earn the award twice.
Check back on GOLF.com every day until Tiger’s birthday on Dec. 30 for a new moment in our TIGER@40 countdown.
No. 22: The Apology Press Conference
No. 25: Signs First Deal With Nike
No. 27: Winning Back-to-Back Masters
No. 30: Ugly Breakup With Steve Williams
No. 33: Relationship With Lindsey Vonn
No. 35: A Shot in the Dark at Firestone
No. 36: Television Debut at Age 2