Earl Woods was famously close with son Tiger.
As dad was nearing his end in the spring of 2006, Tiger grew desperate to earn one last major win before Earl’s death. The 14-time major winner has certainly noted previously that with that motivation he put an immense pressure on himself to capture the 2006 Masters.
You could feel the inner tension that Sunday as Woods missed a number of key putts and fell short in a T-3 performance. It would indeed be the last major played before the death of Earl, who would pass at the age of 74 on May 3, 2006.
Tiger brought up that 2006 Masters pressure again during “Tiger Woods: Return of the Roar,” an ESPN documentary that premiered Sunday recapping Woods’ remarkable 2018 comeback season.
Later in the documentary, Woods related that tale of the pressure mounting as his father’s death neared. But the 43-year-old also revealed some sage advice at that time from Earl that stuck with him, even having an impact on the attitude he took during his 2018 comeback:
“I’ll never forget the lesson that (dad) told me. That year at the Masters, I tried to win it for him. I knew it was the last tournament he was ever going to watch me play. I need to win one for dad, so he can actually see this before he passes and I tried and I put too much pressure on myself and I went back to California after that to be with Pops and he (was like), ‘What the hell is wrong with you?’ And I said, ‘Well dad, I tried to win it for you.’ He said, ‘Haven’t I taught you anything in the game of golf? You do it for the inner joy that it brings, you don’t do it for anyone else.’ And (I was like), ‘Yeah, I took myself out of what you taught me.’ Looking back on this year, at the core of it all is that I wanted to do it again. I wanted to do it for myself that I could climb the mountain one more time.”
That frame of mind seemed to work out well as Woods’ 2018 comeback turned out to be phenomenal. He even won again, capturing the Tour Championship to break a five-year victory drought.
It’s been over a decade since Earl’s passing, but he’s still impacting his son.