While his stock has fallen a bit in recent years, Tiger Woods is still one of the greatest golfers to hit the course. During his prime, it seemed like there was nothing that he couldn’t do; Woods crushed the ball off the tee, claimed major titles with incredible ease, and made plenty of money along the way.
Despite his financial success, Tiger Woods may not be the most gracious host in the sports world. In fact, he once went to lunch with a group of Navy SEALs and refused to pick up the tab.
Tiger Woods has a massive net worth thanks to golf
While golf might not be as popular as some of the more conventional team sports, you can still earn plenty of money hitting a tiny white ball into a hole. Tiger Woods, for example, has turned his time on the links into a massive $63 million net worth.
Woods took up golf at an early age and, as a child, was already showing plenty of talent. He claimed a United States Junior Amateur title at age 15 and then took his talents to Stanford; in addition to dominating the NCAA golf scene, Woods also appeared in the Masters and the Open Championship during his time in college.
In August 1996, Woods finally turned pro. He promptly claimed the PGA Tour’s Rookie of the Year title; that started an unprecedented reign of dominance. Tiger went on to win 15 majors, monopolize the top spot in the Official World Golf Rankings, and become a global celebrity.
While there were some issues along the way—Woods took a year away from golf after his extra-marital affairs came to light and he’s since struggled through back problems—he’s still made an incredible amount of money on the golf course. According to the PGA Tour’s career earnings list, Tiger has taken home more than $120 million in winnings. Forbes also reports that Woods has earned $1.5 billion in endorsements and has a net worth of $62.3 million.
Splitting the bill with some Navy SEALs
While Tiger Woods has earned plenty of money in his career, he was apparently hesitant to use it on at least one occasion.
As laid out in Wright Thompson’s massive ESPN profile of Woods, the golfer developed somewhat of an obsession with the Navy Seals. As the son of a Green Beret, he used his star status to enjoy the more enjoyable aspects of the military. “Tiger shot guns, learned combat tactics and did free-fall skydiving with active-duty SEALs,’ Tompson explained.
Not all of the SEALs took kindly to Tiger, however, feeling that he wanted to play soldier without any of the real-life unpleasantness. An episode in a diner also left a bad taste in their collective mouth.
“There’s the story of the lunch, which spread throughout the Naval Special Warfare community,” Thompson wrote. “Guys still tell it, almost a decade later. Tiger and a group of five or six went to a diner in La Posta. The waitress brought the check and the table went silent, according to two people there that day. Nobody said anything and neither did Tiger, and the other guys sort of looked at one another.”
Eventually, one of the SEALs asked the waitress for separate checks.
“We are all baffled,” says one SEAL, a veteran of numerous combat deployments. “We are sitting there with Tiger f—ing Woods, who probably makes more than all of us combined in a day. He’s shooting our ammo, taking our time. He’s a weird f—ing guy. That’s weird s–t. Something’s wrong with you.”
Tiger Woods isn’t the only athlete with a poor financial reputation
While that anecdote doesn’t paint Tiger Woods in the best light, it does put him in some good company. In the world of professional sports, he’s not the only all-time great known for his frugality.
Around the NBA, there are plenty of stories about Michael Jordan and his money. Charles Barkley, for example, has gone on the record saying His Airness is a poor tipper. Wayne Gretzky has apparently told similar stories; according to a former gaming executive, the Great One replaced Jordan’s $5 tip with $100, telling him, “That’s how we tip in Las Vegas, Michael.”
In terms of pure dominance of their respective sports, Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan are both all-time greats. Apparently their financial habits are similar, too.