‘For my mommy’: Tiger Woods delivers heartfelt tribute to his mother

Tiger Woods hugs his mother Kultida Woods and daughter Sam Alexis Woods after receiving the Bob Jones Award during a ceremony at the Carolina Hotel

Tiger Woods hugs his mother Kultida and daughter Sam after receiving the Bob Jones Award.

USGA/John Kolbe

PINEHURST, N.C. — When Tiger Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, got word that Woods would be honored with the 2024 Bob Jones Award, the United States Golf Association’s highest honor, Steinberg asked Woods’ loved ones if one of them might be game to introduce Woods at the award ceremony, which was held Tuesday night here in Pinehurst.

Alas, no one wanted the job.

“Everyone on the Tiger team took a pass,” broadcaster Mike Tirico, who ultimately landed the presenting gig, told the audience at the Carolina Hotel. “Because nobody wanted to be one-upped.”

One-upped, that is, by Woods’ daughter, Sam, who delivered a memorable and touching speech in 2022 when her father was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Follow that? No thanks, said Woods’ confidantes. So Steinberg tapped Tirico, who, from his perch in 18th-hole towers from California to Carnoustie, has helped chronicle much of Woods’ prolific career.

After opening remarks from Tirico, who touched not only on Woods’ dominance as a player but also his charitable contributions through his TGR Foundation, USGA CEO Mike Whan took the podium to present Woods with the physical manifestation of the award, a bronze figurine of Bob Jones.

Woods looks at ease in front of crowds, and not just the kind that gather at golf courses. Reporters might gripe about Woods’ unwillingness to open up in press conferences, but in packed event spaces, with admiring audiences looking on, he’ll speak warmly and colorfully and without notes or prompters. That’s what he did at his Hall of Fame induction, and he did it again Tuesday night, when he cracked up attendees — among them: Sam; his son, Charlie; and his mother, Kultida — with the opening line of his six-minute acceptance:  

“Charlie just said, don’t let my head get too big.”

Woods spoke of the impact Bob Jones (“the greatest amateur that ever lived”) made on the game, and of how young Tiger used to build his calendar year around the U.S. Junior Amateur and, a few years later, the U.S. Amateur. “All I wanted to do was win that one big event,” Woods said.

But Woods saved his most poignant and heartfelt comments for the end of his speech, when he turned his attention to the essential role his mother, Tida, had played in his rise.

“My mom doesn’t get enough credit,” Woods said, speaking directly to his mother, who was seated at a table with Sam and Charlie. “Everyone thought that it was my dad when I went on the road, which it was, but Mom was at home. If you don’t know, Mom has been there my entire life.”

Tiger Woods is embraced by his mother, Tida Woods, during the Mercedes Championships at La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, California.
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Indeed, it was Tida who shuttled Woods to all those SoCal junior events in her Plymouth Duster. It was Tida who instilled in her son toughness and drive. It was Tida who was there for her son’s majors wins, if in a less prominent role than Earl, peering out from under one of her trademark wide-brim hats. When Woods won the 2019 Masters in stirring fashion, my colleague Michael Bamberger wrote a couple of years later: “Tiger’s mom was watching in the clubhouse with her two grandchildren and others. Suddenly, they were all escorted out and to the home green. To get there, Tida Woods — in her mid-70s, a little over five feet tall — had to negotiate a yard-high black braided chain. She went over it like a high hurdler.”

None of that guidance and support has been lost on Woods.

“I look back at the stopwatch that started back in 1990, and especially in ’96,” Woods said Tuesday evening, “because there’s no other time that I had ever felt so much pressure to win one event as the last U.S. Amateur that I was ever going to play in, and the reason is Mom never came to any of my Juniors. Mom never came to one of my Amateurs. She was wearing her Stanford shirt there at Pumpkin Ridge, and she was there for the first time. Now imagine if I had lost the damn thing, right? But when I made that winning putt, who was the first person that I hugged? Right, Mommy? It was you.

“This award, I accept it in humbleness and just unbelievable regard for the past recipients, but I also accept it for my mommy, too. She allowed me to get here. She allowed me to do these things, chase my dreams, and the support and love — I didn’t do this alone. I had the greatest rock that any child could possibly have: my mom. Thank you, Mommy.”

Alan Bastable

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s executive editor, Bastable is responsible for the editorial direction and voice of one of the game’s most respected and highly trafficked news and service sites. He wears many hats — editing, writing, ideating, developing, daydreaming of one day breaking 80 — and feels privileged to work with such an insanely talented and hardworking group of writers, editors and producers. Before grabbing the reins at GOLF.com, he was the features editor at GOLF Magazine. A graduate of the University of Richmond and the Columbia School of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and foursome of kids.

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