It’s hard to believe that it was twenty years ago when the world was introduced to the next generation of golf, Tiger Woods. Then just 21 years of age, he would win his first major championship at the Masters tournament in epic fashion.
Tiger’s first Masters victory would ultimately be the stepping stone to his victories in all of golf’s four major championships. Of course this all started many years earlier, when Tiger was just two years old. He putted against Bob Hope on the Mike Douglas Show and was immediately placed on our radar.
By age eight, Tiger won his first junior world championship, and then in 1991 he became the youngest player to win the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. Three years later he accepted a scholarship to play golf at Stanford University, one of the best programs in the country.
All of this build-up culminated in Tiger’s first Masters appearance in 1995, where he’d finish 41st. Keep in mind he was just 19 at the time. A year later he snagged the collegiate golf title and in December of 1996 he was named Sports Illustrated magazine’s “Sportsman of the Year.”
The age discrepancy between Tiger and his opponents was truly marvelous. Most players on the professional tour are in their late 20’a, 30’s or 40’s. Woods was the boy who was bullying the men.
Not only could he crush his tee shots, Tiger was known as an exemplary putter and chipper, able to navigate the greens better than most golfers who’d been playing the game for 40 years.
Perhaps what’s most astounding was his margin of victory in 1997. Tiger won the Masters by an impressive 12-shots, scoring a -18 270. In 1999, he captured a record eight PGA tour titles earning a record $6 million. This would begin a winning streak that would eventually tie Ben Hogan’s for the second longest in PGA history.
By age 24, Tiger was the youngest player to win all four majors. He was also the second to capture three majors in a year. His legendary form would begin to slow in 2004 as he devoted a significant amount of time to reworking his swing. This allowed the competition to take a collective exhale, for the moment.
In 2005, Tiger returned to his winning ways capturing his 10th major. By 2009, things began to change quickly following the death of his father and close friend Earl Woods.
It’s hard to say whether anyone will match Tiger’s blistering ascension and domination early in his career. For now, we’ll have to comb through the YouTube highlights to remember those amazing times.