Climb to the top of the tree and there are always going to be people that hate. It’s part and parcel of life at the top.
Tiger Woods is certainly at the top of his profession. Just look at his stats. His record is staggering. After taking some time out of golf due to injuries and getting his life back on track following revelations about his private life, very few thought he’d back and competing with the best. It took some time but he’s approaching a standard resembling his best, and that’s a frightening thought for the rest of those on the PGA tour.
Tiger’s always going to have his detractors. But to a lot of those on the PGA tour, he’s been around, seemingly forever as he’s gone about amassing victory after victory. A lot of golfers grew up watching him, played alongside him, and are massive fans of his, worshipping the ground he stands on. These are the 15 that do and 5 golfers who dislike him.
20 WORSHIP HIM: Notah Begay III
This is one of Tiger’s oldest buddies. Notah was his friend and something of a mentor. The friendship is reciprocated. They hit it off during their time at Stanford together and have remained close ever since. Tiger, despite his hectic schedule, still competes in Notah’s annual charity golf tournament. That alone shows how much they respect each other.
19 WORSHIP HIM: Rickie Fowler
Last year Tiger enjoyed his first major Tour Championship victory in five years. Of course, Tiger was thrilled. It signaled his rise back to the top. But those who worship him, who were massive fans of his on the PGA circuit, were just as chuffed. Rickie Fowler was thrilled and has the rather comical “I made Tiger great again” t-shirt to prove it.
18 WORSHIP HIM: David Duval
In the late 90s, Woods was unstoppable. But David Duval found a way. He passed Tiger and ended up at the top of the world rankings. David respected Tiger immensely, and after his tenure at world number one, this was reciprocated. This respect turned to a strong friendship when the duo played together and won the World Cup in 2000.
17 DISLIKE: Rory Sabbatini
Rory’s comments in 2007 were more than just banter. Despite Tiger’s successes that year, Rory said Tiger was “more beatable than ever. I want him.” Tiger doesn’t normally get riled up, but even he couldn’t keep shtum. “I've won three times this year, the same amount he's won in his career." That’s putting him in his place.
16 WORSHIP HIM: Steve Stricker
Steve Stricker hasn’t been shy in singing Tiger’s praises over the years. He’s a fan, respects him immensely, and they’re buddies too. They’re also practice and playing partners and have become America’s dynamic duo on the golf course. Even when in competition against each other, they’d practice and give each other tips.
15 WORSHIP HIM: Zach Johnson
Zach Johnson has been very complimentary of Tiger over the years. When Tiger was in his dark period, Zach was very vocal in saying he wanted a “vintage Tiger Woods” back and fighting fit on the course.
The two are good friends and have been known to pull pranks on each other. He brings the mischievous side of Tiger to the fore.
14 WORSHIP HIM: Fred Couples
Fred Couples has been friends with Tiger pretty much throughout his entire career. He’s been there through the bad and good times and has helped his buddy out, for example, making Tiger captain’s pick in the 2011 Presidents Cup. Tiger reciprocates too, giving interviews, going on Fred’s radio show etc.
13 DISLIKE: Greg Norman
At the start of Tiger’s career, even before he turned pro, the two were on decent terms. But things soured in August 1996 when Woods promised to play in Greg’s tournament but changed his mind following a better offer.
Things hadn’t died down in 2011 when Greg said Tiger wouldn’t win another championship and he wouldn’t select him.
12 WORSHIP HIM: Bubba Watson
When Bubba first came onto the tour, he regularly practiced with Woods. This was a big thing for the youngster, being able to practice with the world’s best.
Bubba has admitted he just can’t leave Tiger alone. He’s told GolfDigest that he sends Tiger so many messages that Tiger’s actually blocked his number.
11 WORSHIP HIM: Tommy Fleetwood
When Tiger got back to his best, no one was more thrilled than Tommy Fleetwood. “It’s an amazing story and great for golf.” His now-legendary tweet, “Tiger is good at golf,” simple but sweet, let the world get a glimpse into his comical nature and admiration for the great man.
10 WORSHIP HIM: Jim Furyk
Once upon a time, when it came to team-play, Furyk was Tiger’s go-to partner. They had a lot of respect for each other and regularly sung each other’s praises. According to Tiger, they’re also very similar and think alike too, meaning they get on like a house on fire. They’re good for each other’s games and generally good for each other on tour.
9 DISLIKE: Stephen Ames
The dislike started brewing during their match at the 2006 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Wood took some time to find his feet and Ames wasn’t shy in voicing his opinions and criticizing him. It wasn’t long before Woods got into the groove, leaving Ames a mere spectator and eating his words.
8 WORSHIP HIM: Davis Love III
Davis Love III has been with Tiger since the early days. Initially, he was his mentor, now they’re close friends. Davis always had faith in Tiger, even when he was going through his bad patch, picking him for his Ryder Cup teams, making him Vice Captain and just generally being there for him.
7 WORSHIP HIM: Sean O'Hair
For any youngster, having Tiger Woods as a mentor is the thing of dreams. It was no different for Sean O'Hair, and for Sean, it became a reality. The two have even shared a swing coach and regularly practice together. The two remained tight during Tiger’s spell in the wilderness.
6 WORSHIP HIM: Arjun Atwal
Arjun Atwal used to be Tiger’s neighbor at Isleworth and the duo used to practice together. They’ve remained close ever since and Arjun stayed by his friend’s side even during that whole 2009 scandal. He’s quick to sing Tiger’s praises and always knew that he’d back and firing at the top level at some point.
5 DISLIKE: Sergio Garcia
These two haven’t liked each other for a long time. Tiger’s dad, Earl, has said that “Tiger has no use for Garcia” and this was Garcia’s doing. They’ve had little spats over the years, the most recent one being in 2013 which came to a head when Garcia made a racially insensitive jibe at Tiger.
4 WORSHIP HIM: Mark O'Meara
Mark O'Meara has known Tiger since their days at Isleworth. They were neighbors and it didn’t take long for them to strike up a friendship. From neighbors, they became playing partners and before long they’d be going on little fishing expeditions too. Mark has simmered down on the golfing front now but the two remain close.
3 WORSHIP HIM: Phil Mickelson
Phil and Tiger have shared a fierce rivalry over the years. They’re both top professionals, leaders in their sport. But a couple of years ago, their relationship evolved and now the legends are really good friends with each other. They play practice rounds together, and they’re even business partners! Nobody thought that’d be possible when they were battling it out for number one.
2 WORSHIP HIM: Rory McIlroy
Growing up playing golf, Rory McIlroy wanted to emulate the best and the best was Tiger Woods. When they were on the circuit together, they were rivals. When Woods won his 82nd title this year, they became closer. He told The Telegraph that the “champion golfer” had mellowed out, had opened up more and that he found it very endearing.
1 DISLIKE: Vijay Singh
Golf’s a gentleman’s game and sometimes competitors and their teams do things to bring that into disrepute.
Tiger was matched with Singh at the Presidents Cup in 2000. Sing’s caddy wore a cap that had “Tiger Who?” stitched into it. Singh okayed it and found it rather comical. Tiger let his golf do the talking.
Sources: GolfDigest, The Telegraph