The Untold Truth Of Tiger Woods' Mother, Kultida

It's hard to think of the world of professional golf without thinking of one of its best players, Tiger Woods. Since he went professional in 1996, Woods has had an incredible career both on and off the course. He's had victories in all major tournaments, including five Masters Tournaments, four PGA Championships, three British Open Championships, and three U.S. Open Championships. Along with that, he's now the Founder and CEO of TGR, a multi-brand enterprise, including successful companies and philanthropic work.

But with his successes, Woods' career has also had its fair share of scandal and drama. In 2009, news broke of him cheating on his wife, which marred his professional reputation as well as personal (via Mirror). More recently, Woods' 2021 car crash put him in the news again as supporters waited to see how he'd recover from his injuries. Luckily, he made a miraculous recovery and even returned to the Masters.

Throughout all the highs and lows, scandals and scares, one person hasn't left Tiger's side. Watching him play, supporting him, and standing up for him when necessary is his mother, Kultida Woods. While fans of Tiger have likely seen his mother standing in the background with her iconic dark sunglasses, there's a lot you may not know about her.

She was born in Thailand, and it still holds a place in her heart

Although she's lived in the United States for most of her life now, Kultida Woods was born in Thailand. She first moved to the U.S. in 1968, and as she told ESPN back in 2009, "I live in U.S. 40 years now, in Thailand for only 25. In that way, I'm more American than Thai." But, Thailand still holds an important place in Kultida's heart, and she frequently visits her home country and took Tiger on his first visit when he was 9 years old.

Thai culture has also impacted how Kultida sees the world and the values that she's taught her son. For example, she taught Tiger to respect his elders. Kultida explained that respect is important in Thailand, and it's something she's kept with her. "I enjoy the things that are old more than the new," she told ESPN. "You know, the test of time." Kultida also appreciates Thailand's openness to all people. "Thais accept everybody, every religion, every custom. Doesn't matter if you are Buddhist or Catholic or Chinese," she said. "Whatever, we celebrate every damn holiday. ... There's no color in Thailand, not like U.S."

She married Tiger's father after only knowing him a few months

Since Kultida Woods was born and raised in Thailand, you may be wondering how she met and married American baseball player Earl Woods. According to ESPN, the two actually met in Bangkok, Thailand. At the time, Kultida was working as a civilian secretary in the U.S. Army office, and Earl was serving in the army. Although that allowed them to meet, they still may have seemed like an unlikely match on paper. Kultida had never left Thailand and spoke minimal English. But, it seems love found a way because, after only a few months of knowing each other, they married. After which, Kultida moved back to Brooklyn, New York, with her new husband.

They eventually moved to California, and in 1975 they had their first and only child, Tiger Woods. Unfortunately, their marriage was not without its hardships, and Earl allegedly cheated on Kultida multiple times, which was quite hard on Tiger at the time, according to E! News. However, it's clear they were both devoted to their son and they remained married until Earl died from cancer in 2006.

She was a huge support from the beginning of Tiger's career

During his induction speech to the World Golf Hall of Fame, Tiger Woods shared how his journey with golf began when he was only six years old (via PGA Tour). After he developed an interest from seeing his father play golf, his mom found a par-3 course for him to practice. A couple of years later, he started entering his first tournaments. "My mom during those tournament days was so supportive and so great, she would give me 75 cents," Tiger recalled. "So 25 cents would allow me to buy a hot dog, and then 25 cents would be used to use the pay phone to call her to come pick me up. If the pay phone swallowed it, I had a backup."

At the end of his speech, Tiger took the time to again acknowledge his family for all their support. "I just want to say thank you to my mom, Sam, Erica, Charlie, everyone here, all my friends that have come to be here," he said. "This is an individual award, but it's actually a team award. All of you allowed me to get here."

Kultida is a "tough old lady," according to Tiger

When Tiger was a child, his mom would join him out on the golf course. "My mom played golf when I was very little. We played at Heartwell, we would go out there and play together," Tiger shared, per Golf.com. However, Tiger said she didn't really play much other than putt golf. "We still have a few putt-offs in the backyard every now and again, with the kids," he said.

While they surely had fun together, Tiger told USA Today that Kultida was the one who carried out the rules and relied on tough love, especially when it came to Tiger's golf career. "My mom was the enforcer. My dad may have been in the Special Forces, but I was never afraid of him," he told the outlet. "My mom's still here, and I'm still deathly afraid of her. She's a very tough, tough old lady, very demanding. She was the hand, she was the one, I love her so much, but she was tough."

Kultida is the reason Tiger wears red on Sunday at tournaments

The reason Tiger Woods always wears red during final rounds at tournaments is because of his mom's advice. "It goes back to my mom," he said during an interview with Marty Smith of ESPN (via Heavy). "My mom says that my power color is red. And so, in junior golf I won a golf tournament wearing red. She said, 'See I told you. Red.' So, the very next tournament what do I do? I wear blue. Okay. So, I win. Again, I told her, and I just kind of made fun of it. Poked at her a little bit. I think I lost the next two out of three tournaments wearing blue. Switched to red and I went on a hot streak. And, well, I kept it."

Per The Sun, Kultida Woods has been honored with a "Mother of the Year" award from an Asian-American organization, but she prefers to stay out of the spotlight. She is also a devout Buddhist and, with her encouragement, Tiger began to reconnect with the religion again as an adult.

Above all, Kultida always wants her son to know that she has his back and that his love is the greatest gift in her life. "I always told him, 'You can always count on Mom. Mom will never lie to you.' Every night, I pray to the Buddha that in the next life Tiger will be my son again," she told ESPN.

Tiger helps fund his mother's philanthropic work

With Tiger Woods's success, he's had the opportunity to give back. One of the ways he's accomplished that is by helping his mother with the charities she works with. As Thailand holds such a significance for Kultida Woods, she tries to help her home country in whatever way she can. She told ESPN that when she told her son, "I want to help my country," he told her, "Mom, Thailand is your department. Go ahead and take care of business." But, that's not to say Tiger doesn't care; he simply leaves the details to Kultida to find how she can best help and provides the funding for her to do that.

In 2009, Kultida chose two Thai schools to uplift — the Buddhist Girls Convent School for orphaned and abused girls and the Ratchaburi Home for Mentally Disabled Children. Using Tiger's funding, they provided supplies, added staff, and expanded the schools' facilities. "Tiger is generous, and I choose these two schools as the first ones because they are special to me," Kultida said. These two schools are near her hometown, and the convent school was personal to Kultida because she attended boarding school herself. She told ESPN that she was lonely as a child and "always had to make my own thing." 

She believes she and Tiger are cut from the same cloth

Kultida Woods believes she and her son Tiger Woods have a very similar temperament. She told ESPN, "I am a loner, and so is Tiger. We don't waste time with people we don't like. I don't have many close friends. Never have. I am independent and strong-willed. That way, you survive." She can see that same strong will and independence in her son. And it's easy to see how those traits helped him become the world-famous golfer he is today.

She also taught Tiger not to worry about the opinions of others. Kultida recalled growing up that her mother used to worry about how people would think of her. But, she was always confident and single-minded enough that she didn't care what others thought. "I always tell Tiger, 'You can't do things just to please other people. It will waste your energy, and you won't be happy in yourself. You have to do what is right for yourself.'" she said. "And on that, he does a good job."

She has a favorite golfer other than her son

Although it's probably a safe bet that Kultida Wood's favorite golfer of all time is her son, she has named another well-known golfer she holds in high respect. The golfer is also a favorite of her son, and their preference for him is another thing Tiger and Kultida have in common. "I know [Tiger] liked Byron Nelson very much; he was my favorite of all the golfers I meet. Just the way he looked at me and shook my hand. I hardly talk to him. But I like him," Kultida told ESPN.

Nelson was a golf legend before Tiger's time, but they did meet and get to know each other before Nelson passed in 2006 (via Golf). During his career, Nelson had 54 victories, which included wins in the U.S. Open, Masters, and PGA Championships. Kultida believes her son's respect for Nelson is partly due to how she taught him to look up to his elders. "In Thailand, you always respect the elders and history, which is what I taught my son," she explained.

She took out a second mortgage to support Tiger's career

Tiger Woods shared one particularly emotional story about just how far his parents went to support him during his speech at the World Golf Hall of Fame. He explained that their family didn't have enough money to go to big tournaments early in his competition years. "I was about 14, 15, I was going to start playing what is called the AJGA, American Junior Golf Association," he explained (via PGA Tour). "I was there getting exposed to possible collegiate scholarships. College coaches were there to watch them play." Tiger added that at the time he and his family "didn't know [if] we were going to have enough money for me to go to college."

His parents were faced with a tough decision regarding how they could best help their son move forward. And eventually, Kultida and Earl Woods decided to put all their faith in Tiger's potential. "At the age of 14-1/2 we took out a second mortgage so I could go out and play the AJGA Tour," Tiger revealed. "Mom stayed at home. Dad traveled. And I went out and played the AJGA Tour on our second mortgage."

Taking out a second mortgage was a huge risk, but fortunately for Tiger's parents, it paid off. "That defined my career," Tiger said. By playing those tournaments, he eventually earned a spot at Stanford, went pro, and obtained sponsorships. "First thing I was able to do is I was able to pay off that mortgage," Tiger said.

She took her son's rivalry with Phil Mickelson "personally"

Throughout his golf career, Tiger Woods had a major rivalry with Phil Mickelson, as Bleacher Report detailed. The two were the best players of their time, and their competition with one another made the game all the more thrilling for fans. Such rivalries are bound to happen in any sport, but according to Insider, this one had some real animosity.

A lot of that animosity didn't actually come from Tiger himself but from his mother, Kultida Woods. At the height of their grudge match, Kultida often made jabs at Mickelson. Golf Magazine's Alan Shipnuck revealed in an HBO documentary that the rivalry was "personal." for Kultida (via Insider). Shipnuck added, "Tida loved to make fun of Mickelson's body." The Los Angeles Times' Thomas Bonk confirmed this in the same documentary. Kultida would reportedly refer to Mickelson as "hefty," a play on his actual nickname "lefty," which he earned because he plays golf left-handed.

However, Kultida wasn't the only one with ill-will toward Mickelson. Shipnuck said that Tiger felt "disdain" for Mickelson's lack of drive. "Tiger knew that Phil was the most naturally gifted player ever to hold a golf club," Shipnuck said. "But Tiger looked at him with disdain. He couldn't fathom having that much ability but not putting in the time to be great."

She was there minutes after Woods' 2009 SUV crash

Many will remember the scary incident in 2021 when Tiger Woods was hospitalized due to car crash injuries. He made a remarkable recovery and amazed everyone with his quick return just ten months later at the PNC Championship, as CBS News reported. But, that wasn't the first time that Tiger Woods got into a serious car accident.

In 2009 he was in a single-vehicle accident near his Florida home, the Los Angeles Times reported. He was admitted to the hospital after crashing his Cadillac Escalade SUV into a fire hydrant and a tree. His injuries were not as severe in that first crash. But, it did add fuel to the scandal surrounding his marriage as Woods left his house reportedly after his wife caught him texting his mistress.

According to the New York Daily News, Kultida Woods was staying in the Florida mansion with Tiger at the time. Because the crash happened near their home, she was at the scene in moments. A neighbor told the news outlet, "The cops came, the Windermere cops came first, then the security guards came, And then it appears Mr. Woods' mom and Tiger's wife's mom came out after the fact."

Tiger and Kultida Woods have had their differences

Although Kultida Woods is her son's biggest supporter, she isn't afraid to be honest with him. According to The Daily Beast, she was furious with Tiger when she learned that he had been unfaithful to his wife, Elin Nordegren. The pair split in 2010, shortly after his infidelities became known to his family and the public.

The issue hit close to her heart, not only because Tiger's own father was allegedly unfaithful to Kultida, but because she shared a close relationship with her daughter-in-law, Nordegren. A source told The Daily Beast that she was "hurt, angry, and disappointed" by her son's actions and "want[ed] to know how he could do this to his family."  

However, Tiger and Kultida have managed to rebuild and maintain a strong relationship. In 2019, she shared an emotional hug with her son when he won the Masters (via SB Nation). Tiger Woods also embraced his son, Charlie, that day in the exact same spot where he'd hugged his own father 22 years prior. "It's been 22 years. Life goes on," he said of the parallel. "But there's been one continuity through it all — my mom was there."

She defended Tiger after his cheating scandal

In the aftermath of his cheating scandal, Tiger Woods made a public apology to his wife and his supporters. He started by saying, "Every one of you has good reason to be critical of me. I want to say to each of you simply and directly that I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in."

Following his apology, Kultida Woods stood up for her son. She hugged Tiger right after his statement and later told the press, "[Tiger] wants to get better. ... He will start getting better ... it's just like that" (via Us Weekly). "Golf is just like life," she continued saying, "when you make a mistake, you learn from your mistake and move on stronger. That's the way he is."

However, Kultida also said that she didn't appreciate the way her son was treated by the media "like he's a criminal." "He didn't kill anybody, he didn't do anything illegal," she said, before adding, "People don't understand that Tiger has a very good heart and soul."