In an announcement that surprised no one, Tiger Woods will headline the World Golf Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021
Tiger Woods can now add another title to his already legendary resume: Hall-of-Famer.
Woods was announced as the first member of the World Golf Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021 on Wednesday in recognition of what everyone already knew: that he was the most dominant player in the game’s history. The Hall of Fame reduced the age requirement this year from 50 to 45, making Woods, who turns 45 in December, eligible for induction.
“I am both honored and humbled to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame,” Woods said in a statement. “This past year has been such an incredible journey and the support I’ve received from my family, friends, and fans has been overwhelming. This achievement is the ultimate recognition to never give up and keep chasing.”
Woods’ list of career accomplishments is a lengthy one. His 82 PGA Tour victories are tied with Sam Snead for the most all-time. His 15 major championships trail only Jack Nicklaus’ 18 on the all-time list. And he’s been awarded the PGA Tour Player of the Tour award 11 times, eight more than any other player.
But his dominance extends beyond those records. In a four-year span beginning in 1999, he won 35 percent of the PGA Tour tournaments he played in and finished in the top 10 in 71 percent. He went seven straight years without missing a cut from the Buick Invitational in February 1998 to the Byron Nelson Championship in May 2005, a record 142 consecutive events. To put that in perspective, Collin Morikawa is the active leader at 21. He spent 683 weeks ranked as the No. 1 player in the world. Rory McIlroy just reached 100 weeks and would have to stay atop the rankings every week from now until 2031 to catch him.
Woods turned pro in August 1996 with the now-famous words “Hello world” and made an immediate impact. He won the Las Vegas Invitational in just his fifth career pro start. The following year, he won the Masters by a tournament-record 12 shots.
His victory in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by 15 shots in 2000 began an unprecedented run of winning four straight majors, completing the “Tiger Slam” at the Masters the following year. He was the most physically talented player on tour, as well as the most mentally tough. He won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2008 while playing on a broken leg. But arguably his greatest career triumph came last April when, after four major back surgeries, he won his fifth Green Jacket after more than a decade without a major championship.
Woods’ accomplishments extend off the golf course, as well. The attention he brought to the game as its first superstar of African-American descent caused prize money to skyrocket. In 1996, his first year on tour, the total prize pool on the PGA Tour was less than $70 million; this year it’s $378 million, and that’s not even including the FedEx Cup. Tom Lehman led the money list in 1996 with $1.78 million in earnings. The first place payout this week at the Players Championship alone is $2.7 million. Every player who collected a paycheck on the PGA Tour the past 20 years owes a debt of gratitude to what Woods did for the game.
He promoted the game all over the world and led to an influx of international players on tour. When he turned pro, 60 of the top 100 players on the world rankings were Americans; now that number is 43 as the rankings now consist of players from such far-flung countries as Norway, Chile and China — places where golf barely existed 20 years ago.
Woods has now reached the stage of his career where he’s competing against players who grew up idolizing him. He got the opportunity to lead them at the Presidents Cup in December, captaining the American team to victory in Australia. He formed a partnership at Royal Melbourne with Justin Thomas, who was just three years old when Woods first won the Masters.
For a time it seemed like Woods’ days as a competitive player were behind him. He put those concerns to rest at the Masters last year and will head to Augusta National next month as defending champion. He’ll also have the status of Hall-of-Famer with him, the pinnacle of a career that was already one for the ages.