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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 May 2006, 19:33 GMT 20:33 UK
Woods pays tribute to late father
Tiger Woods with his father Earl at the Target World Challenge in California in 2004
Earl Woods (right) was a pivotal force in son Tiger's life
Tiger Woods has described his father Earl, who has died aged 74 of cancer, as his "greatest role model".

Earl Woods was the architect and driving force behind the world number one's incredible career.

He died on Wednesday morning after a long battle with prostate cancer, with which he was diagnosed in 1998.

"My dad was my best friend and greatest role model, and I will miss him deeply. I wouldn't be where I am today without him," Tiger Woods said.

"I'm overwhelmed when I think of all of the great things he accomplished in his life.

"He was an amazing dad, coach, mentor, soldier, husband and friend. I'm honoured to continue his legacy of sharing and caring."

My father was my best friend, my mentor and perhaps my greatest support system - Earl was all of that to Tiger
Jack Nicklaus
Woods has recently taken time out from his career to be with his father, who looked to have beaten the disease in 2004 after six years of treatment, only for it to return.

Last month, Earl Woods was for the first time too frail to travel to the Masters, his favourite major.

Tiger, who was the reigning champion, finished tied for third.

Tiger, who was introduced to golf as a young child by Earl, has often attributed his mental toughness in tournaments to his former Green Beret father.

Earl nicknamed his son "Tiger" after a Vietnamese soldier who became a good friend when he served with the US military in Vietnam.

Earl, a former catcher with Kansas State who became the first black to play baseball in the Big Eight Conference, is also survived by three children from his first marriage.

Jack Nicklaus, who was also 30 when his father died, said he had long "admired and related to the close bond" shared by Tiger and Earl.

"My father was my best friend, my mentor and perhaps my greatest support system. Earl was all of that to Tiger," said Nicklaus, whose record of 18 major victories Tiger - who currently has 10 - is aiming to break.




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