Tiger Woods took it home, a quarter of a century later

Las Vegas (AP) — Davis Love III was fighting as if someone cares. He couldn’t help but notice that Luckus was opening some holes as Tiger Woods passed through Back Nine, which would be the historic Sunday of the sport, a few almost quiet. I played in front of the fans.

“Bring it home. Mr. Woods.” When Woods suddenly rushed into a battle at Las Vegas Invitational, the hottest ticket tournament in town, the well-lubricated ones came from the hillside. I cried.

“Tiger, tiger, tiger,” they chanted tensely and quarreled with each other for a glimpse of the greatness to come.

This week was 25 years ago and golf was changing forever.

At the age of 20, Woods was already a phenomenon. Earlier that year, he won the United States Amateur Championship for the third consecutive year and then turned professional into Nike’s “Hello, world” campaign.

Tiger Mania was brewing, but Woods hadn’t held his official party yet. It requires victory, something that four tournaments haven’t been able to do since making their professional debut in Milwaukee.

Still, the four shots back on Sunday were close enough to bring an additional 10,000 fans who had never considered going to a golf tournament at other times in the hills on the edge of Las Vegas. .. They believed that some of Wood’s fellow pros were a little angry with their attention given players who couldn’t even legally gamble at city casinos.

“Everything was a tiger, a tiger,” resented Fred Funk said earlier in the week after Opening 62 put him on top of the leaderboard, but was rarely mentioned in the morning edition. “They just forget about everyone else here.”

No one else was really important on this day. Not Fred Funk. Indeed, Ronnie Black, who holds the lead in the final round and holds the historic footnote of golf forever, is not.

I was chasing Woods when he went into battle to cover the Associated Press tournament. He shot 63 in the second round, despite a second shot from the right hand of the 16th fairway that went into the water on a par 5 hole.

He saw the ball disappear and shouted blasphemous words, especially to anyone.

As a sign of the future, Woods overwhelmed the TPC Summerlin course over the weekend. He eagle on the 3rd hole in the final round, hit a 6-iron on the green on the par 5th hole in 9th place, and partner Keith Fergus hit two drivers and was still short.

Fans have never seen anything like that. Woods was crushing the drive to a place his fellow competitors didn’t even have in the books in their yard.

A new era of golf has suddenly arrived. The fans didn’t need any encouragement to get in.

When Woods jumped to the top on Sunday’s back nine, I walked right behind him, incorporating a scene I had never seen in golf. The polite applause was replaced by a loud scream, and fans ran towards the next shot after each shot, trying to get a glimpse of the young phenomenon.

A 12-foot birdie putt tied Woods to the lead on the 14th hole of par 3, and when he walked to the 15th tee, there was barely a person touching Woods or begging him to throw a golf ball. ..

“Don’t you see what’s happening here?” Caddy Mike “Fluff” Cowan told one of the enthusiastic fans of Woods’ ball when Scrum moved to the 15th tee. I warned you.

Woods and Love will need additional holes to solve things on this day, but Woods’ coronation will no longer wait. After safely hitting the green with an iron on the first playoff hole, he saw Love airmail his short iron to the back bunker. Woods had the first to win the 82 PGA Tour when love couldn’t raise or lower it.

The victory paid $ 297,000 and was invited to the 1997 Masters. Woods was on the 18th green and posed with two lightly dressed showgirls and an oversized check.

“It was an incredible experience,” Woods said. But it’s like winning an amateur. Unless you think more, you can’t really say what that means. “

Six months later, Woods went home and won his first green jacket. This is the first victory in the 15 major championships. He will be the greatest player of his time, and will undoubtedly always be the greatest player.

It all started when he hit the jackpot in Las Vegas.

___ Tim Dahlberg is the Associated Press National Sports Columnist. Write to him at [email protected] or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg


Other AP Golf: https: //apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports