In August of 1996, the face of golf was forever changed when a very successful amateur player named Tiger Woods officially became a professional golfer. Tiger has been credited with renewing interest in the game of golf. At just twenty-one years old, he brought youth and vitality to the game of golf with his great game and his outgoing attitude.
Woods was a child prodigy who began to play golf at the age of two. In 1978, he putted against comedian Bob Hope in a television appearance on The Mike Douglas Show. At age three, Woods shot a 48 over nine holes at the Navy Golf Club in Cypress, California, and at age five, he appeared in Golf Digest and on ABC’s That’s Incredible.
At the age of 15 Tiger Woods became the youngest U.S. Junior Amateur Open Champion in golf history. He would go on to win the tournament three more times making him the event’s only multiple winner as well as the youngest. Continuing his record breaking career, Woods was the youngest to win the U.S. Amateur Championship which bought him a ticket into the PGA Masters. He tied for 41st making him the only amateur to make the cut.
His professional career has been just as prolific. Immediately upon turn pro, Tiger signed endorsement deals worth $60 million with Nike and Titleist. He played his first round of professional golf at the Greater Milwaukee Open. He tied for 60th place in his pro debut, but would go on to win two events in the next three months, and qualify for the Tour Championship.
Tiger Woods is the only golfer to win the PGA Player of the Year award in the year following his rookie season. The following April, Woods won his first golf major, The Masters, by a record margin of 12 strokes, became the youngest Masters winner, and the first winner of African or Asian descent.
He eventually set a total of 20 Masters records and tied 6 others, and has been the highest-profile golfer in the world ever since. He would go on to win an additional three PGA Tour events that year, and on June 15, 1997, Woods rose to the number one spot in the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time. Tiger Woods achieved this in only his 42nd week as a professional — the fastest ever ascent to the No. 1 ranking.
Currently ranked #1 in the world, there’s no doubt about it that Tiger Woods is one of the greatest golfers of all time. He has made the game of golf fun again as we all watch to see him continue to break records and win tournaments.