Tiger Woods Grieves Over Dad's Death

Tiger Woods Grieves Over Dad's Death
Earl and Tiger Woods
Eric Charbonneau/Beimages

05/03/2006 AT 03:00 PM EDT

Tiger Woods's father, Earl Woods, died at his Southern California home early Wednesday morning after a lengthy battle with cancer, the world's top golfer stated in a message on his Web site, saying he was "saddened to share the news." Earl Woods was 74.

"My dad was my best friend and greatest role model, and I will miss him deeply. I'm overwhelmed when I think of all of the great things he accomplished in his life," his son, 30, says in his posting. "He was an amazing dad, coach, mentor, soldier, husband and friend."

First diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1998, Earl Woods was said to have been in frail health in recent months as the cancer spread. He was too weak to attend the grand opening of the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Feb. 10.

Woods said he spoke to his father the night before the opening, and "he kept telling me how proud he was of what I was able to do, and proud of me for thinking of this. It's hard on all of us," ESPN reported.

Just last month, Woods took a self-imposed break from the PGA tour to be with his dad, saying: "It's kind of up in the air with the situation back home, so I don't know what's going to happen."

Earl, a former Green Beret, and his son had always been close, with Tiger first learning to swing from his dad when the toddler was only 9 months old. When Tiger was 2, Earl had the youngster on TV putting with Bob Hope on The Michael Douglas Show, where Tiger scored a hole in one.

"I wouldn't be where I am today without him, and I'm honored to continue his legacy of sharing and caring," Tiger says on his Web site.

Besides his son Tiger, Earl is survived by his wife, Kutilda, whom he married in 1969.
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