The story behind what inspired that viral Tiger Woods tattoo

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The story behind what inspired that viral Tiger Woods tattoo

Golf

The story behind what inspired that viral Tiger Woods tattoo

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When a photo of the tattoo surfaced online, it was clear something wasn’t quite right.

The mock neck. Where’s the red, Nike mock neck Tiger wore when he let out that victorious yell on the 18th green as he won the Masters?

The tattoo, posted on Twitter after Woods won his fifth Masters in April, received praise for the outstanding artistry as well as questions and criticism regarding the absence of the famous mock neck.

Questions like, “Why would someone get a tattoo celebrating Tiger’s Masters’ win if the mock neck wasn’t included?”

Those questions didn’t bother Simon Richardson because he didn’t get the tattoo to celebrate Woods’ Masters’ win. His viral Tiger tattoo without the mock neck is exactly right for the story he and friend Grant Butler are telling.

It’s called “Legends of Golf.”

Richardson, 32, and Butler began planning the masterpiece in October. The finished piece will feature Jack Nicklaus and Seve Ballesteros alongside Woods as well as the logos for the Masters, the British Open and the Ryder Cup.

“The plan is also to include a picture of the 12th green at Augusta as a background as it’s iconic,” Richardson said. 

The now widely seen Woods tattoo, which measures approximately eight inches high and six inches wide, was finished in February over a month before the Masters. Hence, no mock neck.

The Tiger Woods tattoo on Simon Richardson’s thigh. (Grant Butler)

Richardson, a manager of an estate agency in Boston, Lincolnshire in England, said it was easy to choose what the first part of the “Legends of Golf” mural and his first ever tattoo would be. Richardson has been playing golf since he was 7 years old and has been a fan of the 15-time major winner since Woods rose to the scene.

“(Woods) is the icon of my generation really,” Richardson said.

When he decided Woods’ face would be inked first, he consulted Butler, a tattoo artist at “Olive & Weston” in Boston, Lincolnshire and Richardson’s friend for nearly a decade. Richardson admitted choosing a photo was the most difficult part of the entire process because Woods has so many epic celebration moments and big wins.

After some thought on the very permanent decision, the image they chose to immortalize on Richardson’s leg was from the 2008 U.S. Open.

“It completely captures Tiger,” Richardson said. “The raw emotion, the competitiveness and the fact he never gives up. To win the U.S. Open in 2008 on what was pretty much a broken leg was a great feat in itself, but the tattoo is his reaction to holing the putt on the 18th green that got him into a Monday playoff.”

While Butler hadn’t done a portrait of Woods before, he did have experience capturing other sports icons like Muhammad Ali, David Beckham, Sir Alex Ferguson and George Foreman to name a few.

Tiger Woods celebrates his birdie putt on the 18th hole in the final round of the 2008 U.S. Open. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

“Both golf and Tiger Woods are massive in the UK which is what made doing this tattoo so enjoyable,” Butler said. “After he won the Masters and made one of the best sporting comebacks, in my opinion.”

In celebration of Woods’ Masters win in April, Butler posted the image of the healed portrait on Richardson’s leg on Instagram— as he often does with his finished work. The image ended up going viral and receiving some criticism, mostly surrounding the absence of the Masters’ mock neck.

But neither Richardson nor Butler wanted to talk about the negative comments the tattoo received when it was shared online. Rather, they spoke of how they loved having a small connection to one of the greatest athletes of all time.

“I admire him a lot, probably even more so now having come through what he has done and still to get back to performing at the very highest level – it just gives inspiration to show that hard work and determination can beat anything you’re faced with,” Richardson said. “He is the GOAT in my eyes, hence, why he was first (out of all tattoos).”

The next challenge for Butler and Richardson is another GOAT Jack Nicklaus on Aug. 16.

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