First, Woods' real name is "Eldrick," but Tiger's father Earl began calling him Tiger very early on. Earl Woods served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War, where one of his best friends was a South Vietnamese soldier, Col. Vuong Dang Phong.
Col. Phong's nickname was "Tiger," and when his son Eldrick was born, Earl took to calling Eldrick "Tiger," too, after his friend Col. Phong.
And from that point, Tiger was known as "Tiger" to everyone. If you look back at the earliest news coverage of Woods, when he started winning significant junior and amateur tournaments, you can find many articles that refer to him as "Eldrick (Tiger) Woods," with both his given name and nickname listed. However, by the time Tiger turned pro, that practice had stopped and he was simply Tiger Woods.
Does Tiger have any other nicknames? Yes. His father also called him "Sam" when Tiger was a child. Woods once said he asked him father why, and Earl replied, "Because you look like a Sam." Tiger Woods' daughter is named Sam.
During his late teens, in the two years he spent at Stanford University, Tiger was called "Urkel" by his teammates. Steve Urkel was a nerdy character on the American television sitcom Family Matters that aired from 1989 to 1997. In his teens, Woods was skinny and gangly, and sometimes wore glasses, giving him a nerdy appearance to some. Teammates - particularly male teammates - love to tease, so his Stanford pals tagged Tiger "Urkel."
Return to Tiger Woods FAQ index