Game-worn jerseys, the ultimate physical manifestation of an athlete’s sweat equity, had a banner year on the auction block. But can Tiger Woods’ Sunday red Nike polo worn at the 2010 Masters, that goes gavel down Saturday evening at Golden Age Auctions, keep the hot streak going?
The blue kit worn by the late Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona when he scored his unforgettable “Hand of God” goal during the quarterfinal match of the 1986 World Cup against England fetched $9.3 million in an online Sotheby’s sale in May to set a new highwater mark for sports memorabilia. The consignor was none other than Three Lions midfielder Steve Hodge, the man whose inadvertent backpass provided the assist on the surreptitiously fist bumped goal that fooled the referee. While Hodge certainly regretted the costly miss-flick, his shrewd decision to swap jerseys with Maradona after the game proved a genius move.
Five months later the most expensive sports memorabilia record was surpassed by the same tony auction house when the jersey Michael Jordan wore during Game 1 of the 1998 NBA Finals sold for $10.1 million. His Airness donned the red jersey while scoring 33 points in a losing contest against the Utah Jazz, but the Chicago Bulls would go on to win the series and clinch their second three-peat of the decade.
Breaking another all-time sports memorabilia mark is probably not in the cards for Tiger’s pol. But, when it comes to round-worn golf shirts, a new ceiling is bound to be shattered. With two days to go, the Nike shirt he wore Sunday at Augusta in 2010, that is both autographed and inscribed by Woods, has been bid up to $60,000. As serious bidders often wait till the closing hours to pounce, odds are it finishes a lot higher.
The shirt last sold at a Heritage Auctions sale six years ago for $11,950, including the buyer’s premium, as part of a complete set of the four shirts he wore during the first major of the year’s tournament rounds. Current bidding on the solo Sunday shirt has already eclipsed that mark five-fold and Ryan Carey, co-founder of Golden Age Auctions, expects it will and set a new record high and surpass six figures.
“We always hear about how Tiger moves the needle with television ratings and its definitely true with collectibles as well. This is the hottest market for Tiger memorabilia there has ever been. Collectibles of the GOATs have skyrocketed in value since the beginning of COVID. Michael Jordan, Tom Brady and Muhammad Ali have all dramatically risen in value and now it’s time for Tiger Woods memorabilia to catch up,” Carey says.
Unlike the Maradona and Jordan jerseys, both tied to pivotal career-capping moments in an iconic athlete’s history, the 2010 Masters polo doesn’t factor as large in Tiger lore. Woods wore it in his return-to-action nearly five months after crashing his Escalade into a fire hydrant and all the tabloid fervor over his extra-marital affairs that followed. While he contended, he would finish tied for fourth as rival Phil Mickelson topped the leaderboard and collected his third green jacket. While a Sunday red polo from a winning Masters (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005 or 2019) would attract even more collector interest, this shirt obtained from Tiger’s exclusive memorabilia partner Upper Deck Authenticated is still a unicorn.
“It is our understanding that this may be the only Sunday red shirt from the Masters tournament in private hands,” reads the auction lot’s description. “It is presumed that the balance of Tiger’s Sunday red shirts worn in Augusta remain in Tiger’s personal collection.’’
There is also a Tiger Woods signed Nike Method putter in the same sale that his sports agent Mark Steinberg originally donated to a 2014 charity auction as well as a signed golf glove with the inscription “6/18/00” the Big Cat wore during his 15-shot U.S. Open win at Pebble Beach.
The sale is fortuitously timed to close Saturday at 8 P.M., while Tiger Woods will be in the midst of playing in the seventh edition of Capital One’s The Match.