[PHOTO: Icon Sportswire]

Tiger Woods and Bobby Jones are the only two golfers in history to win nine USGA titles, and it was only a matter of time before their names were joined in the governing body’s highest honour. That moment has come, with the USGA announcing during the weekend that Woods was selected as the 2024 recipient of the Bob Jones Award that “recognises commitment to sportsmanship and respect for golf’s time-honoured traditions”.

Woods, 48, joins fellow Jones winners Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Francis Ouimet, Mickey Wright, Patty Berg, Annika Sorenstam and US president George H.W. Bush.

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“This award goes beyond playing performance, recognising the lasting impact of one person’s journey that has forever changed the image and growth of golf,” Mike Whan, chief executive of the USGA, said in a press release.

“There are very few who stand alongside Tiger Woods in terms of on-course accomplishments, and he is in a class of his own when it comes to the impact he has made on the game and future generations who will play it.”

In a prepared statement, Woods said he was “humbled” and added, “It’s especially fitting to receive this honour from the USGA, which has meant so much to my career and the entire game of golf.”

Photo: Robert Beck

Well before his pro debut, Woods put the brightest light ever on the amateur game when he became the only player to win three straight US Junior Amateur titles (1991-1993) and three consecutive US Amateurs (1994-1996), while compiling an incredible overall USGA matchplay record of 42-3.

In 2000, Woods captured the first of his three US Open titles with a record-breaking 15-shot victory at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Two years later, he added a second win in the inaugural playing of the championship at the public Bethpage Black course.

And then came that extraordinary week in June 2008 at Torrey Pines, where Woods pulled off one of the greatest major victories of all-time. Playing on a fractured leg, he produced one of the most memorable strokes in USGA history by making a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to get into a playoff that he won against Rocco Mediate. The Sunday putt and Woods’ roaring celebration is perhaps the most replayed video in the organisation’s history.

The Torrey win marked Woods’ 14th major championship, with the 15th coming in remarkable fashion at the 2019 Masters. Six months later, Woods tied Sam Snead for the most PGA Tour wins with 82 when he captured the Zozo Championship in Japan.

The USGA also recognised Woods for his charitable work. It noted that with his father, Earl, he started in 1996 the TGR Foundation that “provides opportunities to help change the trajectories of students’ lives through access to college and career-preparation resources, along with STEM-based experiential learning via the TGR Learning Lab”.

“His impact on the game is incalculable, and there is no doubt that golf would not be the same without Tiger in it,” said current USGA president Fred Perpall.

Woods will receive his award on June 12 during the week of the 124th US Open at Pinehurst.