Offered here is perhaps the most significant piece of Tiger Woods memorabilia ever to hit the auction block - the actual golf ball sunk by Tiger Woods to win the 2005 Masters Tournament.
Golf balls sunk on the 72nd hole (or, in this case, final playoff hole) for Major Championship victories are among the most important tournament relics in the hobby. A scant few examples are in private hands. The vast majority are either with the golfer, host golf course, or in a museum; or they have been lost forever by a caddie not immediately separating and identifying the winning golf ball.
Tiger Woods won the 2005 Masters Tournament for his 4th and, as of right now, final Masters victory. Tiger won on the 1st playoff hole against Chris DiMarco. Most people remember 2 things from the 2005 Masters - Tiger's legendary fist pump after victory, and just 3 holes earlier when Tiger's Nike golf ball hung on the lip before falling into the cup in one of Major Championship golf's most iconic moments.
The offered custom Nike One TW "Tiger" golf ball comes with extraordinary provenance. It is well documented that Steve Williams retrieved the golf ball from Tiger's winning putt and tossed the ball into the crowd, and that the ball was caught by a patron named Al Cheek of Winston Salem, NC (See Augusta Chronicle, NY Times, San Diego Union-Tribune). It is also well documented that Tiger used a Nike One "Gold" golf ball. Despite the fact that almost everyone thinks that Woods used a Nike Platinum golf ball, Tiger's actual ball said Nike One "Gold" due to the fact that the Nike One Platinum did not hit the USGA conforming list until almost 4 weeks after the 2005 Masters Tournament (See GolfWeek).
Tiger Woods was apparently shocked that Steve Williams tossed the ball into the crowd, as he has a history of keeping his Major Championship winning golf balls. But Tiger was in good spirits about it, and joked that the ball was "probably going to be on eBay."
Heritage Auctions was quoted as saying that this ball might be worth $100,000 (See San Diego Union-Tribune ; Bloomberg)
Quite impressively, Al Cheek declined his $100,000 payday and instead offered it back to Tiger Woods for free. Cheek never heard from Tiger, which is why we have the privilege of offering this historic ball in this auction.
Included in this auction lot is a letter of provenance from Al Cheek. The above referenced newspaper articles are just a small sample of the numerous articles about Al Cheek and the events surrounding his obtaining this golf ball at the 2005 Masters. Many more are readily available through a quick Google search.
This level of provenance is simply unheard of when it comes to Major Championship winning golf balls. Generally a certain leap of faith based on circumstantial evidence is required. But the offered example is as good as it gets.