The face of golf for decades, Tiger Woods is undeniably the GOAT. He amassed untold endorsement deals and a total of 70 PGA tournament wins, including 14 major championships, and spent a record amount of time ranked as the world’s No. 1 golfer during the first 13 years of his career.
A scandal in 2009 rocked the carefully curated image of the superstar after he reportedly cheated on his wife of five years with at least 120 women. He struggled to get back to his best over the next decade following multiple back-related injuries but seems to have turned a corner in recent years.
For example, he won the Masters at Augusta in April 2019 for his 15th major, which was his first since winning the US Open in 2008. A victory at the ZOZO Championship in Japan saw him draw level with Sam Snead on 82 PGA Tour wins, and he was a successful player-captain as Team USA defeated the International team in the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne in December last year. There could yet be a renaissance for the superstar heading into 2021.
We’ve come up with a list containing five of the best Tiger Woods rookie cards, with everything you could possibly need to know about them from an investment perspective.
Best Tiger Woods Rookie Cards
Woods’ rookie cards are slightly confusing, split across a number of years. Official RCs are dated to 2001, but there are a number of earlier options that still command significant prices.
We’re going to start with one of the best Woods RCs, which is hard to beat in terms of values or overall interest from collectors.
2001 Tiger Woods SP Authentic Golf Auto /900 RC #45
Look no further than the 2001 SP Authentic if you’re on the market for a rare Woods rookie card. A print run of 900 copies might seem fairly high, but that hasn’t stopped prices from rising markedly over the past few years.
The SPA Authentic Stars has a crisp design, allowing for an iconic image of Woods at the top. Meanwhile, the addition of a generously sized on-card auto signed by the man himself has helped to drive interest, along with the serial number found on the bottom right corner. A gold parallel is also available, limited to just 100 copies.
1996 Tiger Woods Sports Illustrated For Kids RC #536
The popular Tiger Woods Sports Illustrated rookie card is only for kids… uh what?Next up is the unique 1996 Sports Illustrated for Kids release. As the name suggests, this card was originally found in perforated sheets located inside the December 1996 Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine. Woods was found along with eight other stars from different sports, such as 76ers guard Jerry Stackhouse.
“Hold onto your hats people because you are not going to believe this one. A 1996 SI For Kids Tiger Woods card graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA sold for an astonishing $125,000 this past week. That’s right, $125,000! This is not only the highest price ever recorded for a modern card but it is also one of the highest prices realized of all-time.”
1998 Tiger Woods Champions of Golf The Masters Collection RC
From the 1998 Masters Collection, this card has no serial number, for reasons that quickly become apparent. The 1998 Masters Champions of Golf set was released by Grand Slam Ventures and consists of one black-bordered card for each of the Augusta Masters Championships, beginning with Horton Smith in 1934.
“Woods makes the cut as the ‘97 winner, as you’ll note from the white text found at the bottom of the card. It also comes with a deep gold trim, helping to add to the premium feel.”
It features an iconic image of a young Woods, beaming with a smile under his trademark Nike hat. He’s also propping himself up with a golf club. While a PSA Gem Mint 10 Woods sold for $40,643 in 2001, that price had risen to $64,316 in 2019.
2001 Tiger Woods SP Authentic Preview Gold /250 RC #21
Okay, so the 2001 SP Authentic mentioned above is undoubtedly Woods’ best RC, but that’s also reflected in the asking price.
A more affordable option comes in the form of his 2001 SP Authentic Golf Preview card, packaged in a set that was originally available in Upper Deck Golf rack packs. In terms of differences, one major change is that there is no auto found at the bottom.
You’ll also note ‘Preview’ branding on the right, just in case you weren’t sure about which copy it is.
The base card also has no serial number, instead of reading “XXXX/SAMPLE” in the bottom right corner. Once more, there’s a gold parallel available, which is limited to 250 copies.
2001 Tiger Woods Upper Deck Player’s Ink Auto RC #TW
Upper Deck took full advantage of the PGA license in 2001, releasing another signed card from a set that contains some of the biggest names from golf at the time. Woods is found in a small rectangle located in the middle of this horizontal card, flashing his teeth with a trademark smile.
A Gold version is the most popular from an investment perspective, although high PSA graded base cards are also exceptionally valuable. It’s seen as one of the most difficult Woods RCs in terms of condition, either because of chipping/flaws due to the dark green corner on the front and back, or smudged autos.
Tiger Woods Rookie Card Value
The most expensive Tiger Woods rookie card is the 2001 SP Authentic Golf Tiger Woods Autograph RC /900 #45 PSA 10 grade. This bad boy sold for a min-blowing $61,101 back in December of 2020 via eBay auctions.
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Tiger Woods Rookie Card Checklist
- 2001 SP Authentic RC Auto /900 #45
- 2001 UD Golf Gallery Tiger Woods First Auto RC #TW
- 2001 UD Golf Rookie RED SP Authentic Preview /50 RC #21
- 2001 Tiger Woods Upper Deck RC #1
- 2001 Upper Deck Evolve RC #ETW
- 1997 Champions Of Golf Masters Collection Tiger Woods ROOKIE #1997
- 2001 SP Authentic Golf Sign of The Times RC
- 1997 Sported Magazine Shooting Stars RC
- 2001 Upper Deck Golf Gallery /50 RC #GGTW
Tiger Woods Rookie Cards: Buyers Guide and Investment Outlook
Woods’ cards have suffered over the past decade, and not just due to his public fall from grace. Back injuries have impacted his incredible run, stopping him from achieving the projected record numbers from the past.
Investment Rating: Strong Buy (4.9 out of 5)
Ownership Disclosure: None
Best Jerry Rice Rookie Card: 2001 SP Authentic Auto RC
He will enter the Hall of Fame in 2021 after the age of entry was lowered from 50 to 45. The change means that he was eligible for the Hall of Fame in December 2020. Following the news, GA Tour commissioner and World Golf Foundation Board member Jay Monahan noted that;
“Tiger has done more for the game than anyone ever thought possible.”
It’s true, and it’s reflected in the price of his best rookie cards. Woods memorabilia tends to be a hot ticket on the auction circuit, and it’s no different when looking at some of the rarer signed options in 2021.