Stephen M. Silverman
December 30, 2005 08:00 AM

Tiger Woods, who’s been in the limelight and in the money since he was 20, turns 30 on Friday – a landmark that calls not only for candles but for tipping one’s hat to his amazing professional golfing record of 46 victories, including 10 major championships.

But Tiger’s greatest accomplishment, The New York Times reports in a celebratory salute to the great swinger, is in his personal life.

While in his early years the Long Beach, Calif.-born Woods would share the sweetness of his victories in the arms of his parents, Earl and Kultilda Woods, today the champ has a new No.-1 fan: his wife since October 2004, Elin Nordegren Woods.

“I have a foundation now with my marriage, and that’s been huge for me,” Woods tells The Times. “I’ve always had support with my family and friends, but this is well beyond that.”

Those around him concur that Elin has been a major plus in Tiger’s life. Observes 14-time PGA Tour winner and U.S. captain in the 2004 Ryder Cup Hal Sutton: “I’ve always said I didn’t think marriage was going to hurt his game because he’s so focused to begin with. Marriage tends to settle you down, but Tiger has always kept his wits about him.”

Sutton says that Woods’s focus and fitness – Tiger steadfastly maintains a 30-1/2″ waist on his 6’2″, 185-lb. frame – “plus so much talent … equals 10 majors and so many tournaments and so many millions of dollars.”

At the moment, Woods is enjoying the downtime of the PGA off-season. But the future? “If history is the true definition of what’s in front of us, there’s no telling what he might do,” Sutton opines.

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