Tuesday, July 10, 2001
Updated: June 19, 3:42 PM ET
Tiger's decisive '97 Masters win was historic
By Bob Carter
Special to ESPN.com
April 13, 1997 - At 21, Tiger Woods was the youngest Masters winner. He also shattered several records with his astonishing performance in becoming the first African-American to win one of the four major championships.
His final-round 69 gave him a Masters record 18-under-par 270, breaking the mark of 271 shared by Jack Nicklaus (1965) and Raymond Floyd (1976). His 12-stroke triumph over runner-up Tom Kite was the largest major championship victory margin in the 20th century, three better than the Masters record of nine set by Nicklaus in 1965.
"I've never played a whole tournament with my 'A' game, but this was pretty close, except for the first nine holes Thursday," Woods said.
About being the first of his race to win at Augusta, Woods said, "I wasn't the pioneer. Charlie Sifford, Lee Elder and Ted Rhodes played that role. I said a little prayer and said thanks to those guys. You are the ones who did it for me."
Odds 'n' Ends
Tiger was named in honor of Vuong Dang Phong, a South Vietnamese army officer who twice saved his father Earl's life. His father nicknamed Phong "Tiger."
Woods' parents met in Bangkok and were married in 1969.
On his first day of kindergarten, a group of white youngsters tied Woods up and pelted him with stones, the first time he was subjected to racism.
Tiger was 16 when he played in his first Tour event, the L.A. Open, in 1992. He received phone threats that included racial epithets.
While on the Western High School golf team, he won a long-drive contest by crushing the ball an estimated 375 yards into a river.
In 1994, Woods won the first of his three U.S. Amateur titles when he was 18, the youngest male to ever do so.
As a kid, Tiger kept a list of Jack Nicklaus' golfing achievements in his
bedroom, records he hoped to break some day. Winning his second straight U.S. Amateur in Newport, R.I., took on added importance to Woods because Nicklaus never won two straight Amateurs. Woods, 19, beat George Marucci Jr., 43, in the finals 2-up.
At 6 feet 2, Tiger was extremely slender in college, weighing 150 pounds. A weight-lifting regimen as a pro has boosted his weight to about 175.
Where does Woods' long drives come from? His body is lean but he has broad shoulders and generates power with strong thighs. Also, Nicklaus has said Tiger's swing is the "most fundamentally sound" he's seen.
Woods played in five majors as an amateur, making the cut four times. He was the low amateur in the 1995 Masters and the 1996 British Open.
Despite his success, he's always making adjustments to his game. Woods spent much of the 1998 season re-tooling his swing.
When Woods won the 1999 PGA Tour money title with $6,620,970, he beat runnerup David Duval by more than $3 million.
His scoring average of 68.17 in 2000 was a Tour record, eclipsing Byron Nelson's 68.33 of 1945. He had 14 top-3 finishes during the season, and his worst finish was 23rd.
When he won the British Open in 2000, Woods became the fifth man to take all four pro majors. He joined career Slam winners Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Nicklaus and Gary Player.
Woods' 15-shot victory in the 2000 U.S. Open awed golfdom and led to record hyperbole. "This is the greatest performance in golf history," said NBC analyst Johnny Miller. "Who knows? It might be the greatest in the history of sports -- period."
Nicklaus won his four Open titles by a total of 12 shots. In the
previous 20 Opens before 2000, the average winning margin was 1.1 shots.
Woods owns or shares the record for strokes below par in all four majors: 1997 Masters (18), 2000 U.S. Open (12), 2000 British Open (19), 2000 PGA (18, tied with Bob May)
His three majors wins in 2000 earned him $2,459,150.
Including endorsements, Woods made $53 million in 2000, according to Forbes magazine. This only made him the second highest paid athlete of the year, $6 million behind Formula One driver Michael Schumacher.
Woods is the only person to be selected twice as Sports Illustrated's Athlete of the Year (1996 and 2000).
Woods' record streak of 62 tournament rounds -- including 52 on the PGA Tour -- of par or better ended Jan. 26, 2001 when he shot a 2-over-73 in the second round of the Phoenix Open.
His Tiger Woods Foundation works to encourage minority participation in golf.
The first player to win the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year since Nicklaus in 1972, Woods' bid for a Grand Slam in 2002 ended when he shot a 10-over-par 81, his worst round as a pro, in the third round of the British Open at Muirfield. He finished at par 284, six strokes behind Ernie Els, who won in a playoff.
Woods' streak of 264 consecutive weeks ranked No. 1 in the world ended on Sept. 6, 2004, when he was replaced at the top by Vijay Singh.
In 2004, Woods didn't win a stroke-play tournament on the PGA Tour. His only tour victory came in the Match Play Championship.
On Oct. 5, 2004, Woods married Swedish nanny Elin Nordegren in a lavish ceremony in Barbados after they dated for about two years.
Woods' record of consecutive cuts made on the PGA Tour ended at 142 when he missed by a stroke at the Byron Nelson Championship in May 2005. His previous missed cut had come in February 1998.
In July 2005, Woods became the first golfer to exceed $50 million in career earnings.
In January 2006, Woods bought 10 acres of residential property on Jupiter Island, Fla., for $38 million. The property includes a 13,207-square-foot home, several guest houses and two docks.
In February 2006, the Tiger Woods Learning Center was opened in Anaheim, Calif. The high-tech, 35,000-square-foot educational center cost $25 million and offers children in grades 4-12 educational programs in a building that houses 100 computer stations, a 200-seat auditorium and a 1,200-square foot multimedia center. The property also has a driving range and an 18-hole putting course.
On May 3, 2006, Tiger's father, Earl, died of prostate cancer in his home in Cypress, Calif.
Six weeks later, at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, Woods missed the cut for the first time in 38 majors as a pro. Playing in his first tournament since his father's death, he shot 12-over-par 152 in the first two rounds.
In August 2006, Woods -- at 30 -- became the youngest to accumulate 50 PGA Tour victories (seventh overall) when he won the Buick Open. Nicklaus had been the youngest, winning his 50th at age 33.
In 2006, Woods was voted the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year for the fourth time. He won eight of 15 Tour starts (two majors), including six straight. He also was the top money winner ($9,941,563) for the year and led in scoring average (68.11).
On June 18, 2007, a day after finishing tied for second at the U.S. Open, Tiger became a father when his wife Elin gave birth to their first child. They named their daughter Sam Alexis Woods.