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The Father & Mentor Of Greatness

“Clubs like Augusta National don’t discriminate. They just don’t want you. There’s a difference. It’s a b___ not being wanted by something or someone, which is why divorces are so difficult. But I’ve learned to handle rejection very well. If you love yourself enough, you won’t give a damn if they want you or not.” These are the words spoken by the late, great Earl Woods (article by Guy Yocom, Golf Digest, February 2004).

If you’re unfamiliar with Earl, let me make his legend plain for you with just four words… this is Tiger’s Father. I’m certain you know about Earl’s kid who just happens to be the greatest golfer ever sired.

Don’t think of Earl as some sellout because he taught his boy how to play a game rich in history of racism towards people of color. No, no, no… you need to understand that Earl was a throwback… a tough… in your face dude.

He was a gifted athlete that was exceptional at baseball and was the first African-American baseball player in the Big 8 Conference (Big 12 today). His lost both his parents before the age of 13, yet they encouraged him to put away his baseball glove to pursue a career in education. Later in life, when his country called, he served two tours as a Green Beret in Vietnam. Earl remained in the army until he retired in 1974.

“My whole life is about being positive. It’s about dreaming, and then taking steps in your life to achieve those dreams. It is about overcoming obstacles and stereotypes such as bigotry and prejudice. Life is about giving and about sharing and caring for others, standing up and being counted for what you believe in, being a spokesperson and a role model… ” Earl Woods, Playing Through

As a father, I see a lot of myself in Earl. He was a man of tremendous principal and spirit. Though racism and later envy would be mighty foes, he faced all challenges and gave no quarter.

I know how much I’ll miss seeing him and the kid with the red shirt embrace on the 18th hole of another major championship. Big Earl went to sleep with his fathers at the the age of 74 on May 3, 2006. He fought and won a couple battles with cancer, but eventually lost as everyone does.

Keep resting in peace Big Earl… the kid is still winning and allowing us to see a lot of you while doing it.

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