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. A victory at the ZOZO Championship in Japan saw him draw level with Sam Snead on 82 PGA Tour wins.
He was a successful player-captain as Team USA defeated the International team in the Presidents Cup in December last year at Royal Melbourne. 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 need to know about them from an investment perspective.
Woods’ rookie cards are slightly confusing, split across several years. Official RCs are dated to 2001, but several earlier options still command significant prices. We’ll start with one of the best Woods RCs, which is hard to beat regarding values or overall interest from collectors.
2001 Tiger Woods Upper Deck RC #1 (Shop eBay)
Looking to make a long-term investment in the sport of golf? Look no further than the 2001 Tiger Woods Upper Deck RC. This card represents Tiger Woods, and we use it as a barometer regarding the sport’s overall popularity.
A great card and should not be an issue buying at a PSA 10 grade. Not only do we love Tiger long-term, but we also like the sport of golf as a long-term play. Double birdie boys.
2001 Tiger Woods SP Authentic Golf Auto /900 RC #45 (Shop eBay)
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 pretty 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 (Shop eBay)
Next up is the unique 1996 Sports Illustrated for Kids release. As the name suggests, this card was initially found in perforated sheets inside the December 1996 Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine.
“Hold onto your hats, people, because you will not believe this. 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 the highest price ever recorded for a modern card and one of the highest prices realized of all time.”
1998 Tiger Woods Champions of Golf The Master’s Collection RC (Shop eBay)
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 consisted of one black-bordered card for each 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 (Shop eBay)
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 from his 2001 SP Authentic Golf Preview card, packaged in a set initially available in Upper Deck Golf rack packs. In terms of differences, one significant change is that no auto is found at the bottom.
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You’ll also note ‘Preview’ branding on the right, just in case you weren’t sure which copy it is. The base card also has no serial number instead of reading “XXXX/SAMPLE” in the bottom right corner. Once more, a gold parallel is available, limited to 250 copies.
2001 Tiger Woods Upper Deck Player’s Ink Auto RC #TW (Shop eBay)
Upper Deck took full advantage of the PGA license in 2001, releasing another signed card from a set with some of the biggest names from golf at the time. Woods is found in a small rectangle 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 precious. 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 mind-blowing $61,101 back in December 2020 via eBay auctions.
Looking to obtain an estimated value of your Tiger Woods golf card? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.
- 2001 SP Authentic RC Auto /900 Tiger Woods RC #45
- 2001 UD Golf Gallery Tiger Woods First Auto Tiger Woods RC #TW
- 2001 UD Golf Rookie RED SP Authentic Preview /50 Tiger Woods RC #21
- 2001 Upper Deck Tiger Woods RC #1
- 2001 Upper Deck Evolve Tiger Woods RC #ETW
- 1997 Champions Of Golf Masters Collection Tiger Woods RC #1997
- 2001 SP Authentic Golf Sign of The Times Tiger Woods RC
- 1997 Sported Magazine Shooting Stars Tiger Woods RC
- 2001 Upper Deck Golf Gallery /50 Tiger Woods RC #GGTW
Buyers Guide and Investment Outlook
Woods’ cards have suffered over the past decade, 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.
- Buyers Rating: 4.92 out of 5 | Tiger Woods and the sport of golf should be excellent investments over the next 20 years.
- Ownership Disclosure: None
- Best Rookie Card: 2001 Tiger Woods Upper Deck RC #1 BUY NOW ON EBAY
He will enter the Hall of Fame in 2021 after his entry age was lowered from 50 to 45. The change means 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 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.