On This Date in History: Tiger Woods Wins First Major

Tiger Woods

Getty Tiger Woods chips out of the bunker during the Masters tournament.

On April 13, 1997, Tiger Woods made history. He would become the youngest (age 21) and the first non-white player to ever win the Masters. Woods was a young protege, his skills obvious from the age of three. He went on to beat the competition in the junior circuit and at age 18, he enrolled in Stanford on a full golf scholarship. After two years at Stanford, Woods decided to go pro at age 20.

One year after going pro, Woods would go on to win his first major and win the Masters Tournament. What would follow would be a wildly successful career, winning countless competitions, contests and awards and becoming a living legend.

In 2009, Woods’ personal life would be rocked by scandal as allegations of extramarital affairs began pouring in. Woods and his wife eventually divorced and he took an indefinite break from professional golf.

Woods is back playing golf again, and while he has had his fair share of struggles and injuries, he still remains the highest paid person in the field of professional golf. He is focusing on his charitable and philanthropic endeavours, and even penned a memoir to discuss his time at the 1997 Masters.

1. Woods Was a Young Golf Protege

Tiger Woods

GettyTiger Woods watches his tee shot on the 14th hole during the final practice round.

Woods was born in December of 1975 to Earl and Kultida Woods in Cypress, California. Woods was raised in Orange County. Earl introduced Tiger to golf when he was just two years old. Young Woods’ skills were immediately recognized, and he was featured on various TV specials, putting against Bob Hope and Mike Douglas for the camera, thrilling the audiences. Woods would go on to win the Junior World Championship six times.

Earl Woods states that Tiger first beat him at age 11, with Earl trying as hard as he could. From then on, Tiger would beat Earl every time.

Woods continued to train and compete in junior championships. He participated in a clinic at Bel-Air Country Club, where he first met Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus noticed Woods right away and was impressed by his skills and potential.

Woods was accepted into Stanford on a full golf scholarship. However, he left Stanford after two years so that he could go pro.

2. Woods Was Ranked #1 in The World Just a Year After Going Pro

Tiger Woods

GettyWoods in action during the final day of the Masters.

In 1996, Woods was 20 years old and made the decision to go pro. He immediately received lucrative product endorsement deals from Titleist and Nike. The spotlight was firmly placed on woods; he was Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year and the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.

In 1997, at age 21, Woods would compete in his first Masters at the Augusta Golf Club. On April 13, 1997, he won his first major, winning the Masters by 12 strokes. Woods became the youngest and the first ever non-write player to win. Just one year after his decision to go pro, he was now the #1 ranked professional golfer in the world. Find out more about Woods’ performance at the Masters on pgatour.com.

In addition to winning countless other honors and competitions, Woods soon became the world’s most marketable athlete. Known as the “ultimate endorser,” products that Woods endorsed, such as Nike Golf, would go on to do hundreds of millions of dollars in sales, with Woods earning a large portion of the proceeds. Forbes currently estimates Woods to have a net worth of about $600 million, and Woods is still considered to be the highest paid golfer in the world.

3. Woods Took a Break From Golf in 2010 To Focus on Family

Tiger Woods

GettyTiger Woods tees off.

In 2009, the National Enquirer printed an article alleging that Woods was having an extramarital affair with a woman named Rachel Uchitel, a New York City nightclub manager. Woods would soon be involved in a single-car accident near his Florida mansion, deeming it a private matter.

In December, US Weekly had an exclusive interview with another woman to claimed to have had an affair with Woods. US Weekly also released a voicemail message left from the woman from a man they claimed to be Woods. Woods released a statement apologizing to those who had supported him for his transgressions. Scandalous stories involving Woods printed by the National Enquirer have continued to haunt him, even after the breakdown of his marriage.

Over the next few days, over a dozen women would come forward with claims against Woods. In December of 2009, Woods apologized for his infidelity and announced that he would be taking an indefinite break from professional golf to focus on his family.

Woods would ultimately lose billions of dollars worth of product endorsements as public opinion of him wavered. Woods completed a 45-day rehab program and he and his wife, Elin, ultimately divorced after six years of marriage. Woods did return to the world of professional golf, competing in the 2010 Masters Tournament.

Despite the scandals that have rocked Woods’ career and the product endorsements he has lost, he still remains the highest paid professional golf player.

4. Woods Started Several Charitable Foundations & Philanthropic Pursuits

Tiger Woods

GettyTiger Woods receives the green jacket after winning the Masters.

In 1996, when Woods was only 20 years old, he and his father Earl established the Tiger Woods Foundation. The Tiger Woods Foundation promotes golf among inner-city children. The TGR Foundation conducts junior golf clinics across the country and sponsors a team in the Junior World Golf Championships.

The TGR Foundation operates the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim which provides educational programs for underserved youth. It includes multiple multimedia facilities with state of the art equipment and an outdoor golf course and instructional area. Four campuses have been opened across the country.

To learn more about the TGR Foundation, check out the official website.

5. Woods Penned a Book

Tiger Woods

GettyTiger Woods at a book signing.

In 2007, Woods penned a book about his experience at the 1997 Masters titled The 1997 Masters: My Story. The 1997 Masters currently has 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com, an excellent score.

20 years after winning his first major, Woods is now ready to reflect on his professional career on the golf course.

“In 1997, Tiger Woods was already among the most-watched and closely examined athletes in history. But it wasn’t until the Masters Tournament that his career would definitively change forever. Woods, then only 21, won the Masters by a historic 12 shots, which remains the widest margin of victory in the tournament’s history, making it an iconic moment for him and sports. Now, 20 years later, Woods is ready to explore his history with the game, how it has changed over the years, and what it was like winning such an important event. With never-before-heard stories, this book will provide keen insight from one of the game’s all-time greats,” writes Amazon.

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