Tiger Woods Breaks Down In Tears During Hall Of Fame Speech

After a powerful speech from his 14-year-old daughter, Sam, Tiger spoke for around 15 minutes about his childhood and the impact his parents had on his career

Woods speaks at the Hall of Fame
(Image credit: Getty Images)

On Wednesday evening, Tiger Woods rightfully took his place among the World Golf Hall of Fame, with the 15-time Major champion being inducted by his 14-year-old daughter, Sam. In an emotional ceremony, Tiger reflected on his childhood, the impact his parents had on his career and his children, Sam and Charlie.

Introduced by his daughter, her moving speech detailed Tiger's first Major triumph in 1997, where Tiger became the first black and Asian golfer to win a Major championship, as well as his 2019 Masters success following multiple back surgeries and his devastating car crash in February 2021. (opens in new tab) 

“We didn’t know if you’d come home with two legs or not,” stated Sam. “Now, not only are you about to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but you’re standing here on your own two feet. This is why you deserve this, because you’re a fighter.”

Walking on to the stage with a standing ovation from those in attendance, Tiger began his speech with a humorous quip, stating: "Crap, I just lost a bet to Stricker that I wouldn't cry."

Seemingly with no script or teleprompter, the 15-time Major champion then delivered a speech of around 15 minutes which didn't mention his successes in golf's Majors, but his childhood, the impact of his parents and his children.

Beginning with stories of how he would win money at putting contests and Skins games, the 46-year-old also reminisced about how he would play on his dad's golf course, despite being too young. It was from there where Tiger honed his craft, often playing rounds in the dark to master where the ball had gone off the club face.

Woods' speech then moved to his father, and one particular story of going to a country club to play a tournament where he wasn't allowed in the clubhouse, because of the colour of his skin. 

"One of the things that Dad had instilled in me is that he grew up in an era, same era as Charlie Sifford and why my son is named after Charlie, is that you had to be twice as good to be given half a chance," said Woods. "So that understanding and that drive, as Sam said, train hard, fight easy. I made practicing so difficult, hurt so much, because I wanted to make sure that I was ready come game time. I hit thousands of balls, hands bleeding, aching, just so that I could play in a tournament.

"Southern California Junior Golf Association had amazing tournaments throughout the summer. We'd play all these great golf courses. Now meanwhile, you have to understand, I only played Heartwell or snuck on the Navy golf course. So one of the neatest things in the world for me was to play on a golf course as I read the name of the golf course and it had the two letters afterward, CC.

"So I was going to go play a country club. We had these fresh greens, not these bouncy poa greens that's all over the place where they're cut probably twice a week. I'm going to get a chance to play fresh greens. Well, playing at some of these golf courses, I was not allowed in the clubhouses where all the other juniors were. The colour of my skin dictated that. As I got older, that drove me even more.

"So as I was denied access into the clubhouses, that's fine. Put my shoes on here in the parking lot. I asked two questions only, that was it. Where was the 1st tee, and what was the course record. Not complicated."

Woods speaks at his Hall of Fame induction

Woods speaks to the audience at the new PGA Tour headquarters

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As Tiger advanced through his junior golf, the 46-year-old acknowledged the sacrifices and hard work of his parents, revealing that they had to take out a second mortgage so that he could "go out and play the AJGA Tour."

"Without the sacrifices of Mom, who took me to all those junior golf tournaments, and Dad, who's not here, but who instilled in me this work ethic to fight for what I believe in, chase after my dreams, nothing's ever going to be given to you, everything's going to be earned. If you don't go out there and put in the work, you don't go out and put in the effort, one, you're not going to get the results, but two, and more importantly, you don't deserve it. You need to earn it.

"So that defined my upbringing. That defined my career, which allowed me to get into a great university like Stanford. From there, I turned pro and Phil Knight is here, CEO of Nike, and at the time, Wally Uihlein, was the president and CEO of Titleist, very generous signing a little punk kid from Stanford at 20 years old to these exorbitant contracts, first thing I was able to do is I was able to pay off that mortgage."

Faldo puts the green jacket on Woods

Tiger receives the Green Jacket from Sir Nick Faldo in 1997.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Concluding his speech, the 15-time Major champion went on to thank those who had been there throughout his established career, with Tiger stating: "I know that golf is an individual sport. We do things on our own a lot for hours on end, but in my case, I didn't get here alone. I had unbelievable parents, mentors, friends, who allowed me and supported me in the toughest times, the darkest of times, and celebrated the highest of times.

"So I just want to say thank you to my mom, Sam, Erica, Charlie, everyone here, all my friends that have come to be here. This is an individual award, but it's actually a team award. All of you allowed me to get here. I just want to say thank you very much from the bottom of my heart."

Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.