Tiger Woods' father Earl dies, 74
Woods described his father as his best friend and greatest role model.
CYPRESS, California -- Tiger Woods' father, Earl, died on Wednesday at the age of 74 after a lengthy battle against cancer.
"My dad was my best friend and greatest role model, and I will miss him deeply," Tiger Woods said in a statement on his Web site.
Earl Woods was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1998 and his health has been deteriorating rapidly in recent months.
He was initially treated with radiation, but the cancer returned in 2004 and spread throughout his body.
He died in the Cypress, California, home where he and his Thai wife Kultida raised their famous son, the 10-time major champion
Earl Woods had not seen his son play since Woods won his Target World Challenge in December 2004 at Sherwood Country Club.
He went to Augusta National for the U.S. Masters in 2005 but never made it to the course. Woods broke down in tears after winning his fourth green jacket in a playoff.
"Every year that I've been lucky enough to win this tournament, my dad's been there to give me a big hug. And today, he wasn't there," Woods said.
"I can't wait to get home and see him, and give him a big bear hug."
Last month, he was too frail to travel to the Masters for the first time. His son finished tied for third.
World number one Woods announced after the first major of the season that that he would be taking a break from the tour to be with his father.
"I'm overwhelmed when I think of all of the great things he accomplished in his life. He was an amazing dad, coach, mentor, soldier, husband and friend. I wouldn't be where I am today without him, and I'm honored to continue his legacy of sharing and caring," added Woods in the statement on his Web site.
Earl Woods was widely acknowledged as being the driving force behind his son's remarkable career.
The former Green Beret was a talented sportsman in his own right, being the first black to play baseball in the Big Eight Conference when he attended Kansas State University.
He had been a member of the U.S. Army's special forces unit for two tours of duty during the Vietnam War.
But it was as the mentor of his prodigious son that he first gained international recognition.
"I knew Tiger was special the day he was born," Woods said in a May 2000 interview with The Associated Press.
From an early age Tiger lived up to his father's expectation as he evolved into the dominant player of his time -- the youngest player to win the career grand slam -- and one of the most celebrated athletes in the world.
He set records that might never be broken by winning three straight U.S. Junior titles, followed by three straight U.S. Amateurs.
In only ten years as a pro, he already was won 48 times on the PGA Tour with ten major championships, and he set a PGA Tour record by going seven years and 142 consecutive events making the cut.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Earl Woods will be remembered for providing Tiger every opportunity "to become the world's best golfer and an outstanding representative of the game and its values."
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