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Tiger Woods gives emotional World Golf Hall of Fame induction speech

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Tiger Woods gives emotional World Golf Hall of Fame induction speech
Tiger Woods was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Wednesday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

March 10 (UPI) -- Tiger Woods shed tears as he addressed the crowd at his World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. He discussed his support system and rise through the sport as he battled discrimination.

Woods' 14-year-old daughter Sam presented her father with the honor Wednesday at the PGA Tour's Global Home headquarters. He son Charlie, 13, mother Kultida, girlfriend Erica Herman and several other golfers were in attendance.

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Fellow sports legends Tom Brady, Michael Phelps, Jerry Rice, Serena Williams and Jack Nicklaus were among those who spoke about Woods' greatness in an introductory video.

Sam started her speech by sharing lessons she learned from her father. She also mentioned his road to recovery from serious leg injuries he sustained in a Feb. 23, 2021 car crash, which he says ended his career as a full-time participant on the PGA Tour.

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"Recently, Dad had to train harder than ever," Sam said. "About a year ago you were stuck in a hospital bed at one of your ultimate lows and one of the scariest moments of your life and ours. We didn't know if you'd come home with two legs or not. Now, not only are you about to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but you're standing here on your own two feet.

"This is why you deserve this, because you're a fighter. You've defied the odds every time, being the first Black and Asian golfer to win a major, being able to win your fifth Masters after multiple back surgeries and being able to walk just a few months after your crash."

Woods, a 15-time major champion, started his speech with tears in his eyes and joked that he lost a bet to fellow golfer Steve Stricker for crying.

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He then detailed his life, from a 6-year-old addicted golfer who learned under his late father, Earl, to arguably the greatest and most popular player the sport ever saw.

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"I know that golf is an individual sport," Woods said. "We do things on our own a lot for hours on end, but in my case, I didn't get here alone.

"I had unbelievable parents, mentors, friends, who allowed me and supported me in the toughest times, the darkest of times, and celebrated the highest of times."

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Woods, 46, who recently earned an $8 million prize from the PGA Tour based on his popularity over the past year, also spoke about his work ethic and discrimination he battled in the United States since his junior golfing days.

"Playing at some of these golf courses, I was not allowed in the clubhouses when all the other juniors were," Woods said of his playing days in southern California. "The color of my skin dictated that. As I got older, that drove me even more. So as I was denied access into the clubhouses, I was fine.

"I put my shoes on in the parking lot. I asked two questions only: Where is the first tee and what is the course record?"

Woods also spoke about how his mom and dad took out a second mortgage on their home so he could play in junior golf tournaments. He used success in those tournaments to earn a scholarship to Stanford and jumpstart his PGA Tour career.

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"Without the sacrifices of mom, who took me to the junior golf tournaments, and dad, who is not here, but instilled in me this work ethic to fight for what I believe in and chase after my dreams," Woods said. "Nothing is ever going to be given to you, everything is going to be earned.

"If you don't go out there and put in the work, you don't go out and put in the effort, one, you're not going to get the results, but two, and more importantly, you don't deserve it. You need to earn it. That defined my upbringing and defined my career."

Woods and his daughter also echoed advice from Earl, a Vietnam War veteran who died in 2006: "train hard, fight easy."

"I made practicing so difficult and hurt so much because I wanted to make sure I was ready come game time," Woods said. "I hit thousands of balls, hands bleeding and aching, just so I could play in a tournament."

Woods is tied with Sam Snead with 82 career PGA Tour wins, the most in history. He remains three major victories behind Jack Nicklas' record mark of 18. The 11-time PGA Tour Player of the Year and two-time FedExCup champion earned his last major title at the 2019 Masters Tournament.

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He tied for 38th at the 2020 Masters, his most recent PGA Tour appearance.

Three-time U.S. Women's Open winner Susie Maxwell Berning, former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and Marion Hollins, the 1921 U.S. women's amateur champion and first female course developer also were inducted Wednesday in Ponte Vedra Beach. The ceremony was scheduled for last year, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The PGA Tour season continues with the 2022 Players Championship from Thursday through Sunday at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.

Moments from Tiger Wood's career

Tiger Woods swings during the second round of the U.S. Open in Bethesda, Md., on June 13, 1997. The following April, Woods became the youngest Masters Tournament winner. Photo by Jay Clark/UPI | License Photo

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