5-year-old Tiger Woods had a perfect, hilarious wish for Santa Claus
When Tiger Woods was interviewed at the Today Show in 1981 — at age 5 — his then-coach Rudy Duran began the interview by listing off a few of Woods’ astounding accomplishments.
“He’s tied 17-year-olds for low gross,” he said. “He shot 3-over-par 57 on two occasions, that was a tie for first and lost in a playoff and this man was on the high school golf team. He’s also shot in the low 100s on regulation golf courses, 6800-6900 yards — that’s from the championship tees.”
Preposterous, right? But that sort of early prodigy is baked into the myth of Tiger Woods; you’re likely already familiar with versions of those stories. What you might be less familiar with is young Tiger’s Christmas wish from that same year.
“What’s Santa going to bring you?” host Bryant Gumbel asked Woods, who’s adorably wearing a two-toned “Super Kid” hat half-askew atop his head.
“I don’t know!” Woods replies.
“What do you want him to bring you?” asks Gumbel. After some prodding, Woods answers with a grin.
“How ’bout a 1-iron and a 2-iron?”
Tiger is, again, five years old in this clip, so it might be a stretch to draw any real conclusions from his quotes, but we can still appreciate the hilariousness of his selection. Decades later, Woods would become the greatest irons player of all time. So of course he wanted Santa to bring him the two most difficult clubs to hit in all of golf. Even then, he liked a challenge. And even then he had beautiful new long iron on his mind. It’s only fitting that the clip following his request is of Woods torpedoing an iron shot from the fairway.
The whole interview is well worth your time. Here are five other terrific takeaways:
1. Gumbel gets his name wrong.
“Young Eldridge Tiger Woods,” Gumbel says by way of opening. He’s sitting in a strange setting, on several rocks beside a stream, possibly at a golf course, possibly at a Pirates Cove. He might say “Eldrich,” but I heard “Eldridge.” Either way, he doesn’t say “Eldrick,” Tiger’s given name. Not the first time Woods’ first name got butchered over the years.
2. Tiger’s shy.
Understandably so — how many five-year-olds field sit-down interviews? — but still, it’s interesting to watch Gumbel tease answers out of Woods, particularly about Santa’s presents. His mother Tida says there’s one area where he’s more comfortable: with a putter in his hand.
“I always buy him a lot of toys,” she says. “He doesn’t like to pick up other toys to play, he loves to pick up his putter and putt in the house.”
3. Greatest baseball card ever?
Tiger Woods. 4’0″, 48 lbs. Likely to beat the heck out of you.
4. Mini-tour pro, redefined:
Duran has a few particularly bold (and pithy) one-liners, but here’s his best: “He’s the equivalent of a touring pro, he’s just too small, it would be like taking a touring pro and shrinking him down to four feet tall.”
5. He was ready to compete.
Tiger’s mother Tida describes him as a normal five-year-old who loves golf — and really loves to take on all comers. “One thing he loves most is competition,” she says. “He loves to have somebody to play with him. He loves to compete with even his pro or his dad, when they’re putting.”
On behalf of five-year-old Tiger Woods, Merry Christmas, all! Here’s hoping for 1- and 2-irons under your trees, and dreams of ballstriking perfection dancing ’round your heads.