Woods, Whose Impact Far Transcends Golf Feats, Accepts 2024 Bob Jones Award

By Ron Driscoll, USGA

| Jun 11, 2024 | Village of Pinehurst, N.C.

Woods, Whose Impact Far Transcends Golf Feats, Accepts 2024 Bob Jones Award

Tiger Woods began competing in USGA championships at age 14, which is the same age that Bob Jones was when he competed in his first U.S. Amateur. It’s far from the only characteristic that Woods shares with the namesake of the USGA’s highest honor, which Woods received on Tuesday evening before the 2024 U.S. Open Championship at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club.

“The Bob Jones Award is the most prestigious award in golf,” said Fred Ridley, chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and a past president of the USGA. “It’s so fitting that Tiger Woods, who’s accomplished so much in golf and in life, is being honored with this award. One trait that I think Bob Jones and Tiger Woods have in common is that they have truly transcended their sport.”

Woods, 48, accepted the award at Pinehurst’s Carolina Hotel before he competes in his 23rd U.S. Open, which is also his 32nd start in a USGA championship. Woods and Jones share the record of nine victories in USGA championships, one ahead of Jack Nicklaus and JoAnne Carner. But as Ridley noted, this honor supersedes a golfer’s accomplishments on the course; rather, it recognizes Woods’ commitment to sportsmanship and respect for golf’s time-honored traditions.

Tiger smiles at Pinehurst

Tiger Woods walks off the ninth green during a practice round ahead of the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & C.C. (Course No. 2) (USGA/Logan Whitton)

“There has been no one more impactful to the game of golf than Tiger Woods,” said Rory McIlroy, the 2011 U.S. Open champion. “To break those barriers down and introduce so many people to the game of golf from different backgrounds, the Bob Jones Award could be given to him for the next 20 years and it wouldn’t be enough.”

“There’s a whole generation of us professional golfers who are only here because of him,” said 2014 U.S. Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie West.

Along with inspiring generations of people to take up the game, Woods’ legacy is further cemented by his charitable endeavors, highlighted by the TGR Foundation, which Woods debuted in 1996 in tandem with his father, Earl. Based in Irvine, Calif., the foundation provides opportunities that help change the trajectories of students’ lives through access to college- and career-preparation resources, along with STEM-based experiential learning via the TGR Learning Lab.

“We’ve been saying at the USGA that we think we can not only build a better game of golf; we can help people build a better life through golf,” said Fred Perpall, USGA president. “Tiger Woods’ foundation is a living embodiment of what that looks like.”

In accepting the award, Woods called Jones “the greatest amateur who ever lived. All the attributes that we all try to aspire to in this great game of golf, that is what Bob Jones exuded.”

Woods went on to honor his mother, Kultida, but not before joking that the first USGA event she attended was his final U.S. Amateur in 1996. Having won five straight USGA events, he said the pressure was enormous. “There she was in a Stanford sweatshirt; imagine if I had lost? But who did I hug first after I won, right, Mommy?”

“My mom doesn’t get enough credit,” Woods said. “It was Dad and I on the road, but my mom has been there my entire life, has always been there through thick and thin. I accept this award with humbleness and in unbelievable regard for the past recipients, but I also accept it for my mom, too. She allowed me to get here, to do these things, to chase my dreams, with support and love. I didn’t do this alone, I had the greatest rock that any child could possibly have. Thank you, Mommy.”

Tiger and Fred Perpall

USGA President Fred Perpall presents the Bob Jones Award to Tiger Woods during a ceremony at the Carolina Hotel, ahead of the 2024 U.S. Open, in Pinehurst, N.C. (USGA/Jon Kolbe)

The USGA introduced the Bob Jones Award in 1955, with Francis Ouimet the first honoree. Its recipients through the years have included Babe Zaharias, Glenna Collett Vare, Arnold Palmer, Byron Nelson, Nicklaus, Carner, Tom Watson, Nancy Lopez, President George H.W. Bush, Mickey Wright, Payne Stewart and Annika Sorenstam.

“Of course we’ll always marvel at Tiger’s inside-the-ropes greatness, the major championships, the USGA titles that he’s won, but really it’s about a person in full,” said Damon Hack, Golf Channel host. “What’s his impact beyond the game? His foundation isn’t about young people learning to play golf. Sure, there’s a golf component, but it’s about STEM education, having kids become well-rounded people.”

Said Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. secretary of state, “Tiger’s foundation has had a tremendous impact. It’s a complete system for education that’s really valuable, and it’s going to continue to be valuable a long time into the future. I think he’s also proud of – and should be proud of – being a breakthrough figure who has made the game look more like America.”

Woods’ journey, from junior phenomenon to young star, player to mentor, golf innovator to entrepreneur, is also marked by triumphing over obstacles and emerging stronger. His dedication to fair play and longstanding commitment to excellence mirror the traits embodied by Jones.

“Putting these two names together is a natural for me and for anybody who follows this game closely,” said USGA CEO Mike Whan. “They have changed the way we think about the game and have changed the number of people who want to follow it. Of all the things that I think of when I consider the Tiger Woods legacy, what he’s done in terms of the growth of the game is at the top of that list.”

“Watching Tiger play golf in my early 20s is what inspired me to pick up a golf club,” said Perpall. “It let me know that there was room in the game for me. And the deep investments he has made in communities that have needs, using his success and his platform to help other people have a better life, it’s extraordinary.”

Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org.