The Real Reason Tiger Woods Wears Red Shirts in Final Rounds

Tiger Woods wearing red shirt during finals
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Throughout his golf career, Tiger Woods has rather famously sported red shirts in the final rounds of tournaments. Why is Tiger so committed to wearing red in the final round?

Because his mother told him to.

Once, in the "Dear Tiger" section of his website (a place he used to respond to fans' questions, but that no longer exists on his newly redesigned site), Woods explained his red shirts this way:

"I wear red on Sundays because my mom thinks that that's my power color, and you know you should always listen to your mom."

That was far from the first time Woods explained his red shirts, but it was one of the more succinct explanations.

Tiger Woods' Association With Red

Woods is so associated with red shirts in the final round that fellow competitors who show up for a pairing with Woods wearing red themselves can be seen as aggressively challenging him. 

At the 2006 PGA Championship, for example, Woods and Luke Donald were tied for the lead following three rounds, so they were paired in the final round. Donald had decided before the tournament started what he would wear each day, and he picked a red shirt for the final round. But then he found himself paired with Tiger. What to do? Stick with it and perhaps be seen as attempting to psych out Woods, or abandon red and maybe feel like he was giving in to Woods before the round even started?

In one of his Tour Notebooks from 2007 for the Associated Press, golf writer Doug Ferguson quoted Donald:

"Obviously Saturday night I knew I was playing with Tiger. I think if I changed my outfit, it was almost like giving in to him already on the first hole. It (wearing red) was nothing against Tiger. I wasn't trying to make a statement or anything. I thought if I changed it, I'd have already lost."

Donald lost anyway. Woods shot 68 in that final round, Donald 74. Donald worrying about his shirt color—or how that color would be seen—likely didn't help.

The Psychology of Woods' Red Shirts

Woods began wearing red in final rounds long before turning professional in 1996. Woods' affiliation with final-round red started during his days in junior golf.

Sometimes it's a very bright and solid red shirt, other times it's another shade of red (magenta has been common) or red accented with another color (typically black). But red has always remained the dominant shirt color, and "dominance" is a key to Woods' (and his mother's) choice of red. (His red shirt is almost always paired with basic black slacks.)

Red evokes strong emotions and is an intense or even angry color that creates feelings of excitement or intensity for many people.

Tiger is intimidating enough on his own, so it's likely that he would have the same number of wins even if he wore pink or baby blue every Sunday. But throw in the potential (or imagined) psychological reactions his opponents might have to a powerful fashion statement and it's a win-win situation. Red "represents power, hence the red power tie for business people and the red carpet for celebrities and VIPs (very important people)." So, think of red as Tiger's power shirt.

It should also be noted that red is the color of the athletic teams at Woods' alma mater, Stanford University.

"I just happened to choose a school that actually was red, and we wore red on our final day of events," Woods once said. "So it worked out."