This story originally aired on March 26, 2006.
Two weeks ago, Tiger Woods won the PGA championship, his second major in a row. And if you saw him crying after he won the British Open in July it was clear how much he missed his father who died after a long battle with cancer on May 3rd.
Earl Woods was his friend, coach, and confidant. It was Earl who helped mold Tiger into the kind of athlete who comes along not once in a generation, but perhaps once in the history of a sport. For the last decade, Tiger Woods has dominated professional golf so completely that he has changed the game and come to exemplify the pursuit of excellence.
Tiger has been ranked number one in the world longer than any other golfer. He's the youngest to win 12 major championships and 52 PGA Tour victories.
On his good days, Tiger shows us that the boundaries of sport can be pushed to the edge of perfection - that swinging a golf club and making a ball go into a hole can be one of the most dazzling performances ever.
Last Spring, correspondent Ed Bradley spent some time with this purposeful, complicated athlete who fiercely guards his private life. Bradley found a man who, at 30, is as committed to giving back off the golf course as he is dedicated to his sport. But first, he met the man who has come to personify the pure spirit of a champion.
Tiger Woods has said, "I love to compete. That's the essence of who I am."
Asked what he meant by that, Tiger says, "I love to compete, whatever it is. We could be, you and I could be playing cards right now and - just want to kick your butt."
"You'd want to win," Bradley asked.
"No, I want to kick your butt. There's a difference," Tiger replied.
When he's in a tournament, that's what he's looking to do.
"These guys are the best in the world. I'm very lucky to have that opportunity to try to compete against the best in the world. That's a rush," says Tiger.
For Tiger, the greater the pressure, the bigger the rush. He won three of his first six tournaments this year, all of them on the final hole, two of them in playoffs. No one handles the stress of competition better.
He credits his ability to handle the stress with his powers of concentration. "I mean, your concentration is so high, so keen. Because all this pressure's on you. Your senses are more heightened. Everything seems to flow better. It's a great feeling," he explains.
When he's in that zone, it can be so unnerving that his opponents sometimes self-destruct.
"You're aware of that intimidation that you have?" Bradley asked.
"I'm aware if I'm playing at my best I'm tough to beat. And I enjoy that," Tiger said.
When he goes out, Tiger says he expects to win, every time. "It's just a belief you have to have. I mean, as an athlete, as a competitor, you have to have that belief in yourself," he explains.
Asked what separates the great golfers from those who are just very good, Tiger says, "Being able to repeat it again and again and again."
For Tiger, practice is the key and his work ethic is legendary. He's up at dawn and can stay out on the course for as long as 14 hours hitting balls again and again and again off the tee, out of the sand, or on the green. It's a never-ending quest for perfection.
"People say that one of your greatest strengths on the course is your imagination. What do they mean by that?" Bradley asked.
"Well, I enjoy creating. I enjoy creating shots," Tiger answered. "I'm trying to hit a little lower, a little higher, a little right to left, a little left to right. I'm always trying to do something. As a kid, I might have been psycho, I guess, but I used to throw golf balls in the trees and try and somehow make par from them. I thought that was fun. Because sometimes it's boring just hitting a normal golf shot."
Tiger says he does go out sometimes and play just for fun, competing in his imagination against champions. "My favorite time to go out is in the evenings. I still love doing this to this day. Where Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer or Ben Hogan or Sam Snead, whomever I beat. I have, you know, four, five balls down. And, you know, 'Here's Tiger Woods on the 18th hole. He has a chance to win the U.S. Open,' blah, blah, blah…against these great champions."
"So the way kids would play in basketball, going up against Michael Jordan for the championship, you do that at night on the golf course?" Bradley asked.
"Still do. Always will. Because you never lose that - that fun, that passion to compete and live a dream," Tiger said.
It's almost like it's an obsession. "It is. I'm addicted. I'm addicted to golf," he says.
It's an addiction that started when Tiger was so young, it's become the stuff of legend. He was born Eldrick Woods in Cypress, Calif. in 1975. His father, Earl, said Tiger was swinging a golf club at nine months, before he could walk. By three, his extraordinary talent was featured on "The Mike Douglas Show," where he and Bob Hope had a putting contest. [Editor's Note: Earl Woodson May 3, 2006.]
From the beginning, Earl Woods guided, nurtured, managed and inspired his child prodigy. Earl, who served as a Green Beret in Vietnam, also nicknamed him Tiger, after a buddy, a lieutenant colonel in the South Vietnamese army who Earl said saved his life.
Tiger says his father played a tremendous role in shaping him. "He's my best friend. And you know, having your best friend be your father is a very unique thing," he says.
And when he needed help competing against older, stronger boys, Tiger turned to Earl and his special forces training.
"I came to Dad. I say, 'Dad, can you make me tough?' He says, 'Yeah, and you're not going to like it. Are you willing to go through it?' And I said, 'Yeah,'" Tiger recalls. "And he would get in my grill. He'd really make you feel insignificant. And then he'd get to the point, the line - he'd never cross it, and back off. And then he'd keep pushing the next time, and it wasn't as far. And eventually, I looked at him and smiled, and [said] 'What are you trying to do here?' And he says, 'All right, you're done.'"
If Earl was coach, his mother Kultida was the disciplinarian and "official" scorekeeper. Born in Thailand, raised a Buddhist, she married Earl while working as a secretary in the U.S. Army office in Bangkok.
"My dad, ex-Green Beret, thinks he's this tough guy. My dad's a softy. Mom was the one I was always afraid of," says Tiger.
"You've said that she gave you that competitive drive, and that she also gave you a killer instinct. What did you mean by that?" Bradley asked.
"Yeah, you have no idea how competitive my mom is. She would watch me compete, and you could see her over there on the side, and she would be living every moment, live - I mean die - on every shot," he explained.
"What about that -- step on their throats, fight till the death, show no mercy?" Bradley asked Kultida Woods.
"That's sport. You have to. No matter how close friend you are, you must kill that person. When it is over, you can shake hand, be friend again," she says.
Tiger says his mother could be tough on him, at times. "She was very strict. She said that if I ever crossed the boundaries that she set, there was always consequences."
Asked if he crossed those boundaries, Tiger says, "Oh, yeah. You always got to test it, you know, any kid. You always got to see what the boundaries are." What were the consequences? "I wouldn't be able to sit for a while," says Tiger.
Kultida was a stickler about Tiger's education; she used to take away his golf clubs until his homework was done. But there was another lesson to teach.
"Did you experience prejudice when you came to this country?" Bradley asked her. "Yes," Kutilda Woods replied. "Where especially when I take him from the tournament to the country club. Some of them reject us."
Kutilda says they rejected both her and her son. What did she tell Tiger? "I said 'Tiger, it's their problem, it's their ignorance. You cannot control other people action or control their mind. You only control your own, and be proud of who you are.'"
"So how did you handle that, when somebody would give you that kind of look? They'd say, 'Hey man, you don't belong here,'" Bradley asked.
"My parents always taught me never to waste any energy on that," Tiger replied. "Just go about your business, put the ball on the fairway, put the ball on the green and try to make a putt."
Tiger's talent was undeniable. He won every national amateur championship for six years running, a first in the history of golf. At age 20, he dropped out of Stanford University to turn pro and Nike immediately signed the rookie to an unprecedented $40 million endorsement deal.
The Nike deal generated resentment and jealousy on the tour, but Tiger in his rookie year proved with spectacular shots that he was more than the frontman for an ad campaign.
With his passion for the game, Tiger drew huge crowds who couldn't get enough of his star power, a phenomenon that became known as "Tigermania." Having won two tournaments, he rode a wave of excitement into Augusta, Georgia in 1997, to his first major championship, the fabled Masters.
"You still remember that day?" Bradley asked.
"Nine years, golly. Time flies, goes by quick, doesn't it?" Tiger replied. "That was a great moment in my life."
At age 21, with the lowest score ever, Tiger became the first African-American and the first Asian-American to win a Major.
"Your perspective on that win, has it changed over the years?" Bradley asked.
"I guess the whole win was bigger than I thought, because I thought it was just winning a golf tournament, but it ended up being more than that," says Tiger. "You know, socially, Augusta denied access to minorities. You know Charlie Sifford had to qualify and they kept changing the rules on him. Lee Elder was the first one to break that barrier. And [to] have him there on Sunday, saying 'good luck,' it meant a lot. These guys sacrificed so much. And I end up winning the tournament that some of them couldn't play."
But for Tiger, the win had personal significance. "Yeah, I won, and it was by a big margin. But there's more to it than that. Dad shouldn't have been there."
But Earl Woods was there, against doctor's orders. He was supposed to be home recovering from bypass surgery after a serious heart attack. Instead, he went to the tournament to be there for his son.
"I went to see Dad, and I say, 'Dad, hey Pops, I'm struggling here. I'm hitting it good. I just can't shake it in.' So he sat up and he said, 'Why don't you try to do this?' So I said, 'All right, I'll try.' 'How's that feel?' And, 'It looks pretty good,'" Tiger recalls.
Earl Woods told his son, 'Let the legend grow,' and Tiger has. Between the 2000 and 2001 seasons he won all four of golf's major championships in a row, something no one else has ever done. It ranks as one of the greatest accomplishments in sports history.
"Any time you can do something that no one's ever done in your sport and it's sitting right on your mantle, it's pretty cool," says Tiger.
Asked if he takes issue with those people who say it wasn't really a grand slam because the wins weren't all in the same year, Tiger says, "They can say whatever they want. They didn't have all four trophies sitting on the mantle, did they?"
As much as Tiger savors his victories, he's willing to risk losing to improve his game. He has changed his swing twice to make it more consistent. After the last time, in 2002, he went more than two years without winning a major and lost his number one ranking. All of a sudden, Tiger looked vulnerable.
Tiger took a lot of criticism from some of the golf press for changing his golf swing twice.
Woods says he changed the swing to become better. "You can always become better," he says.
"Is it difficult to be under the microscope as you are?" Bradley asked.
"It's tough at times when you have to justify each and every round. 'Well, why can't you shoot 67 every day?' I'm building something here, and it takes time," Tiger explained.
The changes have paid off. Last year he won the Masters for the fourth time, putting him on top again.
"The shot on the 16th hole that put you up in the Masters last year, some say that was one of the greatest shots of your career," Bradley remarked. "You could see it pause right on the lip. ...You didn't expect to hole that, you were just trying to get it close."
"No, no, you're trying to get the ball in, in on an area. Trying to read it somewhat correctly. And it came off like a dream," responded Woods.
Hang out with Tiger on the driving range, as Bradley and the 60 Minutes crew did one windy day, and you begin to appreciate the grace and fluidity of his swing and the athleticism he brings to the game. He has sculpted his body, putting on 25 pounds of muscle since turning pro.
Asked why a golf swing is so difficult when Tiger makes it look so easy, he replied, "So many moving parts. Your whole body's moving, and this ball is not moving. It's standing still, laughing at you."
One of the fun things Tiger can do with a golf ball -- bouncing a golf ball on the club face -- became famous in a Nike commercial.
"Some people said that that was done with computers," Bradley said.
"Yeah, it's actually pretty funny," Tiger said. "I saw Andre Agassi catch a ball on a tennis racket, and I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. Can I do that with a golf ball? So I tried it and finally learned how to do it."
Tiger is now more than halfway toward his childhood dream of beating Jack Nicklaus' career record of 18 major championships. He recently turned 30, and many people says golfers peak in their 30s.
Asked how long he would play competitively, Tiger says the answer is easy. "When my best isn't good enough to win anymore, I'm gone. I'm racking the cue and I'm going home."
"I could never deal with the fact that, as hard as I've prepared, as hard as I concentrate and as hard as I play, I played my best and it's not good enough any more," says Tiger. "Accept reality and move on."
As devoted as Tiger is to the game of golf, he says he gets more satisfaction from another part of his life.
Tiger Woods' power and skill on the golf course is unrivaled, but at the age of 30, he says he's ready to make as big an impact off the course, just as his father Earl had predicted before he died in May. This February, Tiger opened the first Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif., close to where he grew up.
The center gives fourth to 12th graders from different backgrounds learning experiences they don't get in their own schools, experiences that help prepare them for college and careers. On the golf course, in front of millions of people, Tiger is cool under pressure. But last February he wasn't so cool when Bradley was with him the first time he saw kids in his learning center.
"God, I'm nervous about this," he admitted, as kids streamed into the center. "I am. It's a dream come true to finally have kids in here."
For their part, the kids seemed to take meeting a living legend in stride.
It's been more than four years from dream to reality.
How cool was it?
"It was really cool," says Tiger. "I mean, to see those kids, those smiles on their faces. And they're totally into it. It's more than I ever expected."
What the kids are into is a curriculum and a facility that's nothing like their own schools. The 35,000-square-foot center is more like an educational funhouse filled with computers, flat screens, and video and music production facilities, and of course, a driving range and putting green. Kids can take robotics, forensic science, creative writing and rocketry, courses the kids themselves said they wanted. And all of it's free.
"We built this for them. If they want to learn and grow, we're going to provide an atmosphere that's going to be exciting for them. So, we decided to let them be the bosses," says Woods.
Tiger says he came up with the idea from scratch. "I just thought we weren't doing enough. I wanted something substantial, something bricks and mortar, something that kids could feel and touch and call their own," he says.
"Why are kids so important to you? Where does that come from?" Bradley asked.
"I guess because I had so many people influencing my life. I wanted to cater this foundation to mentoring and guiding. Because that's ultimately, how I got here," Tiger replied.
Besides the support he got developing his golf talent, Tiger remembers when he was a shy grade-schooler who needed help coping with a devastating stutter.
"The words got lost somewhere between the brain and the mouth," he remembers, "and it was very difficult but I fought through it. I went to a school to try and get over that, and I just would work my tail off. And I would talk to my dog. He would sit there and listen, and he'd fall asleep. And that's fine, just lay there. I finally learned how to do that without stuttering all over myself."
Experiences like that one drive Tiger. He put more than $5 million into the Anaheim center, a prototype for facilities he wants to build all over the country, and around the world.
"Because this is so near and dear to my heart. This is more important than any golf shot that I can possibly hit," says Tiger.
"But wait a minute. You make a living playing golf. I mean, golf gives you the wherewithal to do all of this," Bradley said.
"Golf's a platform," Tiger replied. "Golf is what I do. It's definitely not who I am. I hit high draws. I hit high fades. I make putts occasionally. But I don't get the satisfaction that I get from building this and helping kids and putting a smile on their face and giving them hope."
At the dedication ceremony in February, Tiger recognized the two people who raised him and taught him to give back. "There are a few people I want to thank who have made all this possible – Mom and Dad," he said. "My father's not here today. He's been a little bit sick, been battling a few things. He did want me to deliver one message: 'Thank you.'"
"Man, it's hard, I mean it really is. It really is. It's really hard not to have him there, because he's meant so much in my life, and you want to share these things with your parents. I got to share it with Mom today," says Tiger.
"I am so proud of him, more than anything," says Kultilda Woods.
More than anything he does in golf?
"Yes. He help other kids. Nobody give Tiger anything. He have to earn it. He have to do it. So the kids, when you give them a chance, opportunity, they can do it," she says.
He's made more than $70 million on the golf course alone, and his outside income is estimated at $85 million a year.
Bottom line: Tiger is reported to be on the verge of becoming golf's first billion dollar athlete. But he keeps his money in two different piles.
Lately he's bought an estate on the Florida coastline and a yacht that's bigger than most houses. So success has changed some of his spending habits – but not all of them.
"I'm a little cheap," he admits. "I'm tight. I mean, because I never had a whole lot growing up as a kid. I always had to save. Then I'd buy like one big thing, like a pair of basketball shoes or something like that. But I had to save up my allowances."
So now the allowances are bigger, and the big things are bigger, including his boat and house, which Tiger admits cost "a lot."
For someone with such a high profile on the golf course, Tiger keeps his personal life under wraps. Asked what the name of his boat is, Tiger says "Privacy," and he says the name was his idea.
Tiger wouldn't let 60 Minutes visit him on his boat or at home, and we didn't get to talk to his wife Elin, a Swedish model and au pair whom he married 18 months ago.
But he did open a door to his married life just a little.
"I have found a life partner, a best friend. You know, Elin's been incredible for me," says Tiger. "She's brought joy and balance in my life. We love doing the same things. You think I'm competitive? She's way more than me."
Tiger says he wants kids, without a doubt.
"How do you think that would affect your day job?" Bradley asked.
"Family always comes first. It always has been in my life, and always will. I may sleep a little bit less, and we have to work on that as a team," Tiger replied.
"Can you see yourself giving the kind of time to your kids that your parents gave to you?" Bradley asked.
"As best I can," Tiger said, "I always want my kids to know their father."
Even though he wants to be best known for his work with kids, we know him best for his work on the golf course.
"I love to play golf, and that's my arena. And you can characterize it and describe it however you want, but I have a love and a passion for getting that ball in the hole and beating those guys," says Tiger.
"And if we were to play ping-pong, your goal would be to…." Bradley asked.
"I'd beat you," Tiger said.
"And if you didn't, you'd really be…" Bradley continued.
"We'd do it again," Tiger said.
"So it would become, okay, 'two out of three, okay, three out of five,'" Bradley asked.
"Yeah. We'd keep playing," Tiger said.
Produced By Ruth Streeter
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