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Unrenowned siblings not jealous of spotlight on golfer Tiger Woods

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Much has been written on how Earl Woods molded a golf prodigy, most of it implying that Tiger Woods is an only child.

Only technically true.

In a Los Angeles Times column written last month, shortly after he won the Masters, Tiger was described in the opening paragraph as "the only child of a Thai mother and a United States Army Green Beret colonel."

The description is true since Tiger is the only child of Earl Woods and his second wife, Kultida Woods. But there are the three children from the 18-year marriage of Earl Woods and his first wife, Barbara Woods Gary, who now lives in Kansas.

Kevin, Earl Jr. and Royce Woods grew up on the streets of San Jose and have considered Tiger their baby brother since long before he became a household name.

In recent interviews, the three children - two of whom still live in the San Francisco Bay area - described their upbringing, the genesis of Tiger's training, their close relationship with Tiger and what it's like to live in the shadow of the only sports star who rivals Michael Jordan in recognition and popularity.

Unfortunately for the tabloids, which have hounded them for months for dirt on Tiger and their dad, it's not a story of jealousy and resentment. While the three children, ranging in age from 38 to 41, didn't get the Tiger treatment, they do not seem to begrudge him or their father.

"At no time did I feel any jealousy or feel neglected," says Royce Woods, Earl's only daughter and a San Jose resident.

"My father always gave me my fair share of attention. I've been daddy's little girl," she explains. "I've questioned why we don't get mentioned, but Tiger has never denied (our relationship) in the public eye. It's just that it's been all about him, and he deserves it."

Earl Woods Jr., the oldest sibling who lives in Phoenix and works as a fitness technician, agrees with his sister.

"It'd be nice to be mentioned once in a while," he says. "But there is no resentment. I'm fine right next to the spotlight."

In his book, Earl Woods describes the children by his first wife as a "trial run" for raising Tiger.

That trial run did not include putting a golf club in any of their hands as toddlers, as Earl Woods later did with Tiger. In fact, back then Earl Woods himself had not yet taken up golf.

According to everyone's accounts, the Woods family grew up a typical military family often on the move. They bought a house in San Jose, renting it out when Earl Woods was stationed elsewhere in the country. The three children were born one right after another: Earl Jr. in 1955, Kevin in 1957 and Royce in 1958.

Earl Woods, a top baseball player at Kansas State University, did instill a love of sports in his children.

But the regimen Earl Woods crafted for Tiger from the time the boy was in a high chair watching his dad hit golf balls into a net in their garage was not there for the first children. Their father was off pursuing his own teaching and military career.

"The difference was the structure of the coaching," says Earl Jr. "You need structure. My Dad was always there for Tiger; it was like living with your coach."

Still, with all of Tiger's fame and fortune, his family has hardly chosen to live the high life.

Like many Silicon Valley workers, Kevin, who is married with two daughters, moved to the east San Francisco Bay suburb of Brentwood so he could afford a larger house for his family. He drives an old car.

Earl Jr., who says he lives modestly in Arizona, has got one advantage. His father now instructs his 6-year-old daughter, Cheyenne, in golf because she seems to have inherited the Tiger gene.

Tiger did buy Royce, who works for Mitsubishi in Sunnyvale, her San Jose house. Kevin says it was to thank her for her help during Tiger's two years at Stanford University. But Royce and her brothers downplay the significance of Tiger's riches.

One of the few drawbacks, they say, is that Tiger is such a hostage to his handlers and schedule that it is difficult for them to maintain contact with him. Earl Jr. stays in touch by sending Tiger letters through International Management Group, the agency that represents him.

"The fact he's so valuable means he's got no free time," Earl Jr. adds. "It's hard to access him. There's no attitude or anything like that. It's just that everybody wants a piece of his time."

There's one more problem.

Kevin, who works for AMD in Sunnyvale, tells of having to prove his identity to a radio host so he could counteract a caller's claim that Tiger is spoiled.

"That's the only thing I have trouble with," Kevin says, pointing to a bartender at his favorite Sunnyvale sports pub. "You know how many times I've had to show my ID to him to prove who I am? That's the only thing that's hard for me - always having to prove who I am."

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