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Tiger Woods Wins the 1997 Masters

The 1997 Masters Tournament was the 61st Masters Tournament, held April 10–13 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Tiger Woods won his first major championship, twelve strokes ahead of runner-up Tom Kite. The margin of victory is, as of 2022, still the largest in the tournament's history. The four-day score of 270 (−18) was also a tournament record until 2020 when it was beaten by Dustin Johnson. Woods also became both the youngest and the first non-white player to win at Augusta. Woods struggled on his first nine holes of the first round, turning at 4-over-par 40. Making four birdies and an eagle gave him a 6-under-par 30 on the back nine for a 70, three shots behind first-round leader John Huston.

In the second and third rounds, Woods scored the best rounds of each day (66-65) to open up a commanding nine-shot lead. A final-round 69 gave Woods a then tournament record 270 (−18), bettering the previous record of 271 set by Jack Nicklaus in 1965 and matched by Raymond Floyd in 1976.

Woods' victory set television ratings records for golf; the final round broadcast on Sunday was seen by an estimated 44 million viewers in the United States. 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.

By June 1997, Woods was ranked number one 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. On April 10, 2005, he earned his fourth green sport coat at Augusta National, becoming the first person to win four Masters before age 30.

In 1995, Woods 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.

Wood's winning pace slowed around 2004, when he devoted time to reworking his swing and rehabilitating his surgically repaired knee. It was also during this period that he married Elin Nordegren, a Swedish former model who would become the mother of his two children. Woods was back in top form by 2005, winning his 10th major. His performance fluctuated throughout the rest of the decade as he struggled with a torn ACL and personal problems that garnered substantial media attention: In late 2009, in the wake of events surrounding a car accident outside Wood's Florida home, several women came forward claiming to have had affairs with the famous golfer. Nordegren divorced him in August 2010, just as Woods began his first winless season in his career.

After dropping from the international rankings, Woods' career started rebounding in 2013. He won the Masters Tournament in 2019, his first major championship win in eleven years.

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