Black hat. Red shirt. Black pants.
Anyone who has watched even a moment of golf since the turn of the century can immediately form a picture in their mind of Tiger Woods in his outfit of choice at the final round of a tournament. The ensemble has helped to set the scene for some of golf’s most iconic moments.
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When Woods wears his red shirt, he’s often playing for a win. Although that won’t be the case Sunday at the Masters, in this instance it’s a testament to longevity. This is the 23rd Masters since 1997 in which the golf world will see Woods’ signature look during the final round.
Almost all of Woods’ 82 PGA Tour wins have come in a red Nike shirt. That total includes 15 majors, and five of those have been the Masters. How did red become Woods’ preferred look?
What does red represent with Tiger Woods?
A common thought around Woods wearing red is what the color denotes.
In color psychology, red is associated with many things, most of them aggressive. There is danger. There is strength. There is heat.
Woods projects all of those things (heat in a figurative sense) when he’s near the top of the leaderboard. He has always seemed poised to run away with a tournament or cap off an improbable comeback. Using the color red as an intimidation tactic wouldn’t be out of left field.
That, however, isn’t why Woods wears red for his final rounds.
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Why does Tiger Woods wear red during final rounds?
Like so many great athlete traditions, the answer is simpler than it would appear: superstition, borne out of golfing for the Stanford Cardinal.
“I’ve worn red ever since my college days basically, or junior golf days — big events on the last day,” Woods said, per Bunkered.
“I just stuck with it out of superstition, and it worked. I just happened to choose a school that actually was red, and we wore red on our final day of events. So it worked out.”
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There is, however, another reason.
“I wear red on Sundays because my mom thinks that is my power color,” he said. “You know, you should always listen to your mom.”
The mystique around the red cannot be overstated. It’s so prevalent that ESPN created a fascinating visual feature story to highlight not just the red, but the many shades of red in which he has won. As that story notes, Woods has not worn red in three of his wins, although one came in 1996, before he was the most recognizable golfer in the world. The other two were in 2000.
Tiger Woods major wins
Woods’ 15 major wins are the second-most all time. All of them have come with him wearing some shade of red on Sunday (or Monday).
Only Jack Nicklaus, with 18, has more major wins than Woods. It’s hard to imagine the 47-year-old Woods catching Niklaus at this point in his career, but that doesn’t undo Woods’ dominance in the 2000s, nor his 2019 Masters win when he shocked and fascinated the golf world.
|1997||21||Masters Tournament||270 (-18)||12 strokes|
|1999||23||PGA Championship||277 (-11)||1 stroke|
|2000||24||U.S. Open||272 (-12)||15 strokes|
|2000||24||The Open Championship||269 (-19)||8 strokes|
|2000||24||PGA Championship||270 (-18)||Playoff|
|2001||25||Masters Tournament||272 (-16)||2 strokes|
|2002||26||Masters Tournament||276 (-12)||3 strokes|
|2002||26||U.S. Open||277 (-3)||3 strokes|
|2005||29||Masters Tournament||276 (-12)||Playoff|
|2005||29||The Open Championship||274 (-14)||5 strokes|
|2006||30||The Open Championship||270 (-18)||2 strokes|
|2006||30||PGA Championship||270 (-18)||5 strokes|
|2007||31||PGA Championship||272 (-8)||2 strokes|
|2008||32||U.S. Open||283 (-1)||Playoff|
|2019||43||Masters Tournament||275 (-13)||1 stroke|