Tiger Woods’ relationships with his late father, Earl Woods, has been well documented, but his mother, Kultida Woods, plays a major role in his life as well. Tiger pulled off one of the greatest comebacks we have seen in sports, and his mother has played a big part in his road to recovery. Some of Tiger’s wounds have been self-inflicted, but the golfer has also overcome multiple back surgeries to return to being one of the top golfers in the world.
Kultida is originally from Thailand, but has lived in the United States the majority of her life.
“I live in U.S. 40 years now, in Thailand for only 25,” Kultida told ESPN. “In that way, I’m more American than Thai.”
It is one of the reasons Woods refers to himself as “Cablinasian” rather than simply African-American. The Undefeated explained Tiger’s desire to recognize all parts of his heritage.
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.
Through all of Tiger’s ups and downs, his mother has been there to support her son. Tiger is one the verge of winning the Tour Championship, his first victory since 2013.
Learn more about how Tiger’s mother helped him to return.
1. Tiger Is “Deathly Afraid” of His Mother
Tiger may be a competitive athlete, but the golfer still admits he is afraid of his mother. Tiger explained to the USA Today that his father had a military background, but it was his mom who he was more afraid to disappoint.
“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,” Woods 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.
2. Tiger Admits His Mother Was “Brutal” on Him After News Broke of His Affairs
Tiger’s infidelity became a very public matter, but he explained to ESPN that both his mother and wife [now ex-wife] Elin Nordegren were “brutal” on him after they found out about his affairs.
“I hurt them the most,” Tiger told ESPN in a March 2010 interview. “Those are the two people in my life who I’m closest to and to say the things that I’ve done, truthfully to them [was] very painful.”
Just months later Woods and Nordegren would get a divorce. According to Fox News, Nordegren was awarded $750 million in the settlement, and only married women not romantically linked to Woods are allowed around their kids.
3. Tiger Wears Red on Sundays Because of His Mother
There are many theories as to why Tiger wears red on Sundays during tournaments. In his own words, it is his mother that deserves credit for his Sunday wardrobe choice of red.
“It goes back to my mom,” Tiger told ESPN’s Marty Smith. “My mom says that my power color is red. And so, in junior golf I won a golf tournament wearing red. She said, ‘See I told you. Red.’ So, the very next tournament what do I do? I wear blue. Okay. So, I win. Again, I told her, and I just kind of made fun of it. Poked at her a little bit. I think I lost the next two out of three tournaments wearing blue. Switched to red and I went on a hot streak. And, well, I kept it.”
4. His Mother Encouraged Tiger to Lean on Buddhism to Get Through His Lowest Moments
Kultida may have been hard on Tiger in private, but she was very public in her affirmation of her son. She was with Tiger at his press conference when he publicly apologized. Kultida hugged her son and whispered words of affirmation after the press conference.
“I said ‘I’m so proud of you,'” Kultida told CBS News. “Never think you stand alone. Mom will always be there for you and I love you.”
She also encouraged her son to reconnect with the Buddhist faith she had emphasized when Tiger was growing up.
“Buddhism teaches you to go deep inside your soul and look through from himself, and correct the bad thing to be a good thing,” Kultida told CBS News. “When he realized, he said okay, and went back to practice Buddhism and that will make him a much better person.”
5. Tiger Admits He Was Living a Lie & It Hurt His Family the Most
After Tiger hit bottom, the most difficult part of recovering was how much he hurt those close to him, including his mother. Tiger admitted he was “living a lie” when it came to his closest relationships.
“I was living a life of a lie, I really was,” Tiger told ABC News. “And I was doing a lot of things, like I said, that hurt a lot of people. And stripping away denial and rationalization you start coming to the truth of who you really are and that can be very ugly. But then again, when you face it and you start conquering it and you start living up to it, the strength that I feel now … I’ve never felt that type of strength…I can’t believe I actually did that to the people I loved.”
Kultida admits she is skeptical of other people, something she passed on to Tiger. She spoke with ESPN about her tendency to keep to herself.
I am a loner, and so is Tiger. We don’t waste time with people we don’t like. I don’t have many close friends. Never have. I am independent and strong-willed. That way, you survive.
When I was a girl, my mother would always be worried, ‘What will people say?’ And even then, I would think, I don’t give a damn. I always tell Tiger, ‘You can’t do things just to please other people. It will waste your energy, and you won’t be happy in yourself. You have to do what is right for yourself.’ And on that, he does a good job.