It has been a turbulent few years for Tiger Woods, but the golfer has made it clear that his family is priority number one going forward. During a recent interview with ESPN’s Marty Smith, Tiger opened up about his kids, and how his health challenges impacted his family.
It’s [being a father] changed it [how he spends his time] dramatically. My off-time used to be spent playing golf, thinking about golf, practicing a lot. Even when I was healthier, when I just had my kids I didn’t really do that as much. They are the most important things in my life. I’d do anything and everything I possibly can to help them and guide them and teach them. Golf has taken a backseat to any of that. But more importantly, my health has been the number one thing that had guided me towards where I am at, because I want to be healthy for my kids. I couldn’t play with them anymore. It really sucked to not be able to play soccer with them. Not throw the ball around, lay on the floor and play Legos. I just couldn’t do it, my back was so bad.
Tiger has two children, Sam and Charlie, from his previous marriage to Elin Nordegren, and the kids have recently attended some of Tiger’s tournaments with his new girlfriend, Erica Herman.
Tiger has always been public in his praise for his parents, and their impact on his life.
Tiger Woods Mother & Father Still Have an Impact on the Golfer
The story of Tiger learning the game of golf from his father, Earl Woods, has been well-documented, but his mother, Kultida Woods, has also had a strong influence on his life. Kultida is the reason he wears red on Sundays, after she told him it was his power color. Tiger admits to still being afraid of his mother.
“My dad was always the person who would plant seeds and give me encouragement but also would say things that would fester inside me that wouldn’t come to fruition for a while,” Tiger told USA Today. “He was very worldly and deep in his thinking. My mom was the enforcer. My dad may have been in the Special Forces, but I was never afraid of him. My mom’s still here, and I’m still deathly afraid of her. She’s a very tough, tough old lady, very demanding. She was the hand, she was the one, I love her so much, but she was tough. There was zero negotiation.”
According to The Undefeated, Tiger has often classified his ethnicity as “Cablinasian”, a mix of Caucasian, African-American, Native American and Asian .
But Woods, 41, has long chosen to embrace his full multiracial identity. Rather than black, he sees himself as “Cablinasian” — a mix of Caucasian, black, (American) Indian and Asian.
Nobody can argue with his precision. His mother, Kultida, is of Thai, Chinese and Dutch descent. His late father, Earl, said he was African-American, Chinese and Native American. If that is accurate (and some say his father’s Chinese heritage is subject to dispute), Woods is more Asian than he is black. In any event, he has explained that to call himself African-American would have the effect of writing his own mother out of his racial identity.
Tiger’s dad, Earl, passed away in 2006, and many believe his father’s death had a strong impact on Tiger’s downward spiral. ESPN’s Wright Thompson detailed how Earl’s death impacted Tiger in a 2016 ESPN the Magazine feature.
In the 1,303 days between his father’s death and the fire hydrant, Tiger set in motion all those things, and when he can finally go back and make a full accounting of his life, he’ll realize that winning the 2008 U.S. Open a year before the scandal, with a broken leg and torn ACL, was the closest he ever got to BUD/S. He could barely walk and he still beat everyone in the world. He won and has never been the same. The loneliness and pain tore apart his family, and the injuries destroyed his chance to beat Nicklaus and to leave fame behind and join the Navy. He lost his dad, and then his focus, and then his way, and everything else came falling down too…
Even 10 years later, the loss of his father still exerts force and pull on his inner life. The anniversary of Earl’s death is a time when he can’t sleep, staying up all night with his memories. The wounds seem fresh. Tiger spent just 77 minutes on the ground in Kansas saying goodbye to Earl, before hurtling back into a destiny previously in progress. It’s nearly certain he hasn’t been back since. The sexton who runs the place says he’s never seen Woods visit, and staff at the small airport nearby say they haven’t seen him either. A book by a People magazine writer said Tiger visited once in 2007, around Mark Steinberg’s military intervention, but that report could not be confirmed.
As Tiger’s golf career has gotten back on track, there is still skepticism over whether Tiger has changed. Few people know for sure, as Tiger, like most high-profile athletes, is well-trained in what he says to the media. In the interviews Tiger has done since all that has transpired, Tiger had been adamant that he is a different person for his family’s sake.