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This one's for Pop

From Brian Todd

Wolf Blitzer Reports
Tiger Woods
Earl Woods

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Surviving a tight finish might have been easy, compared to talking about his dad.

"Every year that I've been lucky enough to win this tournament, my dad's been there to give me a hug. He wasn't there today. I can't wait to get home to see him, to give him a big bear hug," Tiger Woods said Sunday after winning his fourth Masters tournament.

Those who know and cover the game, and even Tiger Woods himself, agree he may never have won a green jacket if it hadn't been for Earl Woods.

"He's the one who introduced me to the game. He got me started. He got me ingrained in the fundamentals. He taught me all those things," said Woods.

And he did it, according to most accounts, starting when Tiger was learning to walk.

"His father had a net in his garage and he'd go out and hit balls and he'd bring Tiger out, literally in a high-chair ... And his father realized fairly early on, that there was some talent in his young son," says Lorin Anderson, managing editor of Golf Magazine.

Earl Woods was stern and driven, using gamesmanship -- talking or jiggling change on the boy's backswing -- to instill mental toughness.

Earl knew something about that, from two tours in Vietnam as a Green Beret where he fought alongside a South Vietnamese officer nicknamed "Tiger" -- a man who saved Earl's life more than once.

Earl gave his son the same nickname and the boy took to it so much that he legally changed his name from Eldrick to Tiger.

Earl had three children from a previous marriage, but channeled his energy, time and devotion to Tiger.

Observers say one shouldn't mistake him for a stage father.

"He knew when to push, he knew when to pull away. He wanted Tiger to be able to do this on his own. He did not want to have to be in the background the whole time. And by the time Tiger was 20 and turned professional, Earl really had stepped aside and Tiger was making all of his own decisions," Anderson says.

Now, after battling diabetes and heart disease for years, Earl Woods has prostate cancer.

He'll fight this battle knowing his son -- his prodigy, his best friend -- can do it on his own.

"This, this is for Dad," a choked-up Tiger said after his victory Sunday.

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