Let’s talk about Tiger Woods rookie cards.
Arguably the best known golfer on the planet, Tiger Woods is tied for first in PGA Tour wins, ranks second in men’s major championships, and holds numerous records within the sport.
A decade of unparalleled success was followed by time spent in the wilderness, and Woods has just dropped out of the OWGR top-1000.
Here’s what you need to know about the very best Tiger Woods rookie cards, at a key stage of his career.
The Best Tiger Woods Rookie Cards to Collect
You’ll find Tiger Woods rookie cards in 2001 Upper Deck sets, along with a few earlier XRCs that we’ll mention below.
5. 2001 Upper Deck Player’s Ink Tiger Woods RC #TW (eBay)
We’ll start with one of the aforementioned 2001 Upper Deck Tiger Woods RCs. An autographed release, Player’s Ink is where the majority of the autographs from the set are found.
It features a simple profile shot of Woods’ signature smile.
Landing 1:3,000 packs, they’re exceptionally tough to find. (There’s also a Gold version numbered to 25 copies.)
You’ll have to part with at least four figures for a graded copy, but they’re more affordable than the Authentic Stars alternative listed below.
4. 2001 Upper Deck Tiger Woods RC #1 (eBay)
Possibly the most iconic modern golf card in existence, the Tiger Woods Upper Deck RC is the key to the sport’s first mainstream set in nearly a decade.
Featuring a full-bleed image of the star in a celebratory pose, there are no parallels to chase. Despite the lack of a serial number, it’s one of the more popular Woods collectibles ever produced.
Expect to pay a premium for pristine copies.
3. 1997-98 Grand Slam Ventures Masters Collection Tiger Woods RC (eBay)
Heading back to before the turn of the millennium, the 1997-98 Grand Slam Ventures Master Collection Tiger Woods RC is a tallboy which was given out as part of the Grand Slam Ventures’ annual set.
It features an action shot of Woods on the green, with a thick black border and a gold trim.
Be careful when buying ungraded copies, as Grand Slam Ventures released near identical versions over a couple of different years. (You’ll also be able to find a Gold Foil version of the 1997-98 card.)
2. 1996 Sports Illustrated for Kids Tiger Woods RC #536 (eBay)
The original Tiger Woods release, this was produced as part of a nine card sheet for Sports Illustrated for Kids back in December 1996.
They were meant to be cut out, which is why you’ll find perforated edges. Woods was the central card on the sheet, so it’s rare to find pristine copies when looking at the sides and corners. If you’d prefer the first ever Tiger Woods RC, this has to be on your radar.
1. 2001 SP Authentic Tiger Woods RC Autograph #45 /900 (eBay)
The iconic 2001 SP Authentic Tiger Woods rookie card easily takes the top spot. Despite the higher print run (/999), it can’t be matched in terms of importance or value.
It features a classic image of Woods surveying his shot post-swing. There’s a large on-card auto found at the bottom, alongside the serial number. As with every other card on this list, the lack of a traditional border means that any dings or imperfections are easy to see. Once again, graded copies are some of the most valuable golf cards of all time.
Tiger Woods Rookie Cards: Buyers Guide
Over 2,000 Tiger Woods cards have been released since he made his debut. What do we think of the current market for the best rookie options?
If you’re looking for a more affordable entry-point, ungraded cards are likely to be your best bet. Alternatively, the 2001 Upper Deck RC #1 is a great place to start.
Any of the signed options from 2001 Upper Deck would be ideal if you’re looking for the best Tiger Woods rookie cards to invest in. The SP Authentic comes with a serial number, while the Player’s Ink is a viable alternative. Of course, you’re going to be paying a significant sum for flawless copies of either card.
Tiger Woods Rookie Cards: Final Thoughts
Woods had been written off for years, but in 2019 he finally won a fifth Masters title to end an 11-year wait to claim a 15th major. It looked like it would be a turning point in his fortunes on the green.
However, when he lost control of the Genesis SUV he was driving in the hills outside of Los Angeles in 2021, he escaped the accident lucky to still have the use of his leg. It has also severely impacted his ability to play golf over the past 12 months.
At the current time of writing, a poor return of 9-over over 36 holes at the home of golf in 2022 ensured he missed the cut by nine, and Woods has now dropped outside the OWGR top-1000.
The 15-time major champion is now ranked 1009th in the world. (He was ranked 994th heading into St Andrews.)
“It’s very emotional for me. I’ve been coming here since 1995, and I don’t know when—I think the next one comes around in what, 2030—and I don’t know if I will be physically able to play by then,” said Woods, noting the speculated date of the next visit to St. Andrews by the R&A. “So to me it felt like this might have been my last British Open here at St. Andrews. And the fans, the ovation and the warmth, it was an unbelievable feeling.”
Retirement could be on the cards. The value of his rarest RCs are more likely to rise due to his past achievements.
It would be a sad end to one of the greatest careers in the sport, but it’s a minor miracle to see him stepping on the green in the first place. It’s hard to think of anyone better if you’re looking for the very best golf cards on the market right now.