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Talking Today in History, April 13th

TIGER WOODS WINS FIRST MAJOR:
April 13, 1997


On April 13, 1997, in Augusta, Georgia, 21-year-old Tiger Woods wins the
prestigious Masters Tournament by a record 12 strokes. It was Woods' first
victory in one of golf's four major championships--the U.S. Open, the British
Open, the PGA Championship, and the Masters--and the greatest performance by a
professional golfer in more than a century.Eldrick "Tiger" Woods was born in a
suburb of Los Angeles, California, on December 30, 1975. The only child of an
African-American father and a Thai mother, Woods was encouraged from infancy by
his father for a career in golf. At the age of two, he teed off against comedian
Bob Hope on television's Mike Douglas Show. At five years old, he was featured
on the television show That's Incredible. At age eight, Tiger won his first
junior world championship, and in 1991, at age 15, he became the youngest player
ever to win the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. He also captured the 1992 and
1993 Junior Amateur titles, and in 1994 accepted a scholarship to attend
Stanford University. That year, he came from six holes behind to win the first
of his three consecutive U.S. Amateur championships. He was 18 years old and the
youngest Amateur champion in history. In 1995, Tiger played the Masters, his
first professional major championship. The Augusta National Golf Club, which
runs the Masters, had not let an African-American join its ranks until 1991.
Woods finished 41st in his first Masters appearance. In 1996, he won the
collegiate title. By this time, he was already attracting considerable media
attention and attracting throngs of new fans to the sport. After claiming his
third U.S. Amateur title, Woods left college and turned professional in August
1996. Playing as a pro in eight Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) events
in 1996, he won a title and was named the PGA Tour's outstanding rookie. In
December 1996, he was celebrated by the magazine Sports Illustrated as its
"Sportsman of the Year."In professional play, most of Woods' opponents were in
their late 30s or early 40s. At 6'2" and 155 pounds, he was slender and
athletic, and had developed a devastating swing that routinely allowed him to
hit drives of more than 300 yards. He also had a reputation for mental toughness
and was a superb putter and chipper. In April 1997, all these attributes came
together for the most decisive victory in the Masters' 44-year history.His
margin of victory--12 strokes--was the largest in the 20th century, and second
only to Old Tom Morris' 13-shot margin at the 1862 British Open. His score of
18-under-par 270 broke Jack Nicklaus' 32-year-old Masters record of 17-under-par
271. He was the youngest golfer by two years to win the Masters and the first
person of Asian or African heritage to win a major. Never before had so many
spectators come to Augusta National, and never before had so many people watched
it on television.By June 1997, Tiger was ranked No. 1 in the world. In 1999, he
won eight PGA tournaments, earned a record $6 million, and began a winning
streak that eventually tied Ben Hogan's 1948 streak, the second longest in PGA
history. In June 2000, he won his first U.S. Open title, shooting a record
12-under-par 272 to finish 15 strokes ahead of his nearest competitors. It was
the greatest professional golf performance in history, surpassing even his 1997
Masters' triumph and Old Tom Morris' 1862 showing. In July 2000, he captured the
British Open, and in August the PGA championship. At the age of 24, he was the
youngest player ever to win all four major golf titles and just the second to
win three majors in a year.
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