Column: Tiger Woods brings it home, a quarter century later

LAS VEGAS — Davis Love III used to be in competition, as though any person cared. He performed sooner than a handful of most commonly silent fanatics who couldn’t assist however understand the ruckus unfolding a couple of holes forward as Tiger Woods made his approach throughout the again 9 on what would develop into an historical Sunday in sports activities.

“Carry it on house Mr. Woods,” the neatly lubricated shouted from the hillsides as Woods surged into competition within the Las Vegas Invitational, a match that used to be all of sudden the most up to date price ticket on the town.

“Tiger, Tiger, Tiger,” they chanted as they strained, jostling one some other to get a glimpse of the greatness to come back.

It used to be 25 years in the past this week, and golfing used to be about to modify without end.

On the age of 20, Woods used to be already a phenom. Previous within the yr he had received his 3rd instantly U.S. Novice, then became professional to a “Hi, global” marketing campaign via Nike that made him a millionaire sooner than he ever hit a shot for pay.

Tigermania used to be brewing however Woods hadn’t truly had his reliable popping out celebration but. That will require a win, one thing he hadn’t been ready to do in 4 tournaments since making his professional debut in Milwaukee.

Nonetheless, 4 pictures again going into Sunday used to be shut sufficient to deliver an additional 10,000 fanatics who would by no means have regarded as going to a golfing match another time to the foothills at the fringe of Las Vegas. They believed, although a few of Wooden’s fellow professionals had been a little bit miffed on the consideration given a participant now not even ready to gamble legally within the town’s casinos.

“The whole lot has been Tiger, Tiger,″ an exasperated Fred Funk stated previous within the week after a gap 62 put him atop the leaderboard however slightly were given a point out within the morning newspaper. ”They roughly overlook about everybody else out right here.″

On at the moment nobody else truly mattered. No longer Fred Funk. Under no circumstances Ronnie Black, who held the overall spherical lead and can without end dangle a ancient footnote in golfing.

I used to be following Woods as he moved into competition, masking the match for The Related Press. He would shoot 63 in the second one spherical, regardless of a 2nd shot from neatly proper of the 16th fairway that went into the water at the par-Five hollow.

He yelled a profanity to nobody specifically as he watched the ball disappear.

In an indication of items to come back, Woods merely overpowered the TPC Summerlin route at the weekend. He eagled the 3rd hollow in his ultimate spherical, and at the 9th hit a 6-iron into inexperienced of the par-Five hollow whilst taking part in spouse Keith Fergus hit two drivers and used to be nonetheless brief.

Fanatics had by no means noticed anything else adore it sooner than. Woods used to be crushing drives into puts his fellow competition did not also have on their yardage books.

A brand new generation in golfing had all of sudden arrived. The fanatics did not want any encouragement to hop aboard.

As Woods surged into the lead at the again 9 Sunday, I walked simply at the back of him, taking in scenes not like any I had ever noticed in golfing. Well mannered applause have been changed via raucous yelling and fanatics ran after every shot towards the following, seeking to get in place for a glimpse of the younger phenom.

A 12-foot birdie putt tied Woods for the lead at the par-Three 14th hollow, and as we walked to the 15th tee, the ropes may just slightly comprise individuals who reached out to the touch Woods or plead for him to toss a golfing ball.

“Can’t you notice we were given a little bit one thing going right here?” caddie Mike “Fluff” Cowan admonished one overly keen fan who demanded Woods’ ball because the scrum moved to the 15th tee.

Woods and Love would want additional holes to settle issues on at the moment, however the coronation of Woods would now not wait to any extent further. After hitting an iron safely at the inexperienced at the first playoff hollow, he watched as Love airmailed his brief iron into the again bunker. When Love couldn’t get it up and down, Woods had the primary of what would develop into 82 PGA Excursion wins.

The win paid $297,000, and got here with a Masters invitation for 1997. Woods posed at the 18th inexperienced with two scantily clad showgirls and the outsized take a look at, with out a trace of the scandalous issues that may without end hyperlink him to Las Vegas later in his occupation.

“It’s been a fantastic revel in,″ Woods stated. ”It’s identical to successful the Novice, despite the fact that. I truly can’t say what it manner till I take into accounts it extra.″

Six months later, Woods received his first inexperienced jacket in a runaway, his first of what can be 15 primary championship wins. He would pass directly to develop into the best participant of his time, and arguably the best of any time.

It began when he hit the jackpot in Las Vegas.

——— Tim Dahlberg is a countrywide sports activities columnist for The Related Press. Write to him at or


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