Earl Woods, champion Tiger Woods father, died at the age of 74 on Wednesday morning. He was struggling with prostate cancer since 1998. Last week, Tiger announced that he was going to leave golf for a while and spend more time with his dying father. Everybody assumed then that few moments were left for the two to enjoy together.
Earl was thought to be the main reason why Tiger is now the champion that he is. It's not only what the friends and family say, but it's also what Tiger admitted yesterday: "My dad was my best friend and greatest role model, and I will miss him deeply. I wouldn't be where I am today without him. He was an amazing dad, coach, mentor, soldier, husband and friend. I'm honored to continue his legacy of sharing and caring".
The aggravation in Earl's medical condition came last month, when he missed his first Masters in his life. Shortly after, Tiger announced his short retirement from the sport. Even if Earl's health problems seemed to vanish in 2004, the disease appeared again, this time proving to be decisive.
The paradox is that another great champion, that Tiger Woods is trying to equal, Jack Nicklaus, lost his father at the same age of 30. Nicklaus record of 18 major victories is pretty likely to be equaled by Tiger, who managed 10 until now. It's hard to predict what would Tiger playing reaction be, but everybody expects him to take his suffering and use it to make his father proud.
Earl was the first black man who played baseball in the Big Eight Conference for Kansas State. He also served for the US Army in Vietnam.