Having clinched his 15th major last month, Tiger Woods is once again topical and relevant.
Despite personal troubles, four back surgeries and just as many knee surgeries over the past decade, Tiger’s march back to prominence culminated with his fifth Masters victory on April 14, 2019, at Augusta. It was his first Masters win since 2005 and his first major triumph in 11 years. In a word, it was “miraculous.” He now sits just three majors behind Jack Nicklaus’s longstanding record of 18.
The frenzied media attention surrounding Tiger’s comeback to golf’s limelight has stirred newfound interest in his autograph. Collectors seek it and investors want it. And because it is so sought-after, forgeries do surface with deceitful scammers trying to pass them off as genuine articles. That’s why it’s always important to make sure your potential purchase is authenticated by a reputable, third-party authentication company such as PSA. It’s also not a bad idea to educate yourself on what “El Tigre’s” signature looks like before you plunk down your hard-earned cash because depending on when it was written, his autograph has changed through the years.
“Tiger’s autograph has evolved over time from simple strokes to more complex formations,” explained Kevin Keating, PSA’s principal autograph authenticator. “It has also become more structured over time. Some of the qualities that are typical of authentic signatures beyond letter formation are speed, instrument pressure, and letter/formation scale from one letter to the next.”
Nowadays, Tiger boasts a strong and impressive signature, but that was not always the case. Let’s take a closer look at his autograph as it has evolved over time.
THE EARLY YEARS
As a teenager, Tiger’s autograph featured a standalone, uppercase “T” that was followed by the rest of his first name. His last name displayed impeccably with every letter readable including the double “oo”s. As demand for his signature increased, Woods retained the stand alone “T” but instead of spelling out the rest of his first and last names, his first name simply flowed into the “W” with a lower-case “d” to finish off the autograph. By 1994, Woods was being heavily recruited by major college golf powers and chose to enroll at Stanford University, the reigning NCAA Golf Champions. However, after just two years of pursuing his undergraduate degree, he changed his mind.
Woods turned pro in 1996 and quickly took the PGA Tour by storm. A year later he won his first Masters title with a 12-stroke victory over runner-up Tom Kite. By the time the 2000 PGA Tour season ended, Tiger was 25 years old and had already secured five majors: two PGA Championships, one Masters, one U.S. Open and one Open (British) Championship. In 2001, once his star reached elite status, Upper Deck and its memorabilia division, Upper Deck Authenticated (UDA), signed Woods to an exclusive autograph deal. He has been with the company ever since and continually hones his signature on everything from 16×20 photos and golf shoes to polo shirts and pin flags. There is one surface, however, that Tiger refuses to sign since turning pro: golf balls. Though some exist from his amateur playing days, he has not signed a golf ball in 23 years.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
With practice and repetition, Tiger’s autograph has developed into a firm, readable and recognizable John Hancock. Upwards of four private signing sessions per year with UDA can only help with his technique. You’ll also notice that the gaps between letters are gone as his signature is now a continual straight line all the way across. Though it’s been a work in progress, it currently stands as one of golf’s most sought-after autographs. And Tiger’s pursuit of four more majors to surpass Nicklaus’s monumental mark is back in full swing this week as he competes in the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, New York.