A Talk with Tiger 10 Years Later
Editors Note: The following is a Golf Channel exclusive interview from Golf Channel reporter Casey Bierer with world No. 1 Tiger Woods.
Tiger, these questions are regarding your 1997 Masters win.
Gosh, ten years alreadythats hard to believeten years.
You met with Lee Elder before your final round and you said it was an inspiration to do that. What was so special about that meeting?
Well I was on my way to the chipping green ' I had just warmed up hitting golf balls ' I was going to chip and then putt and then go to the first tee. Lee was therehe had basically flown out to say good luckand, he was the first one ' in 1975 the year I was born ' he knocked down barriers. I mean, Charlie (Sifford) played the TOUR but wasnt ever eligible to play; he qualified but the rules kept changing. He wasnt able to play The Masters. Lee was the first. And to have the first man of color to ever play in The Masters come and say good luck, go out there and just do your stuff, that it inspirational. I dont see how it cannot be. That whole day was one big blur but also it was one of the more enjoyable days I have ever had.
Your father said to you on the eve of that victory that if you play well and be yourself it will be the most rewarding round youve ever experienced. Ten years later does that still ring true for you?
Without a doubt. He also said it was going to be one of the most difficult rounds Ive ever had to play. If you remember, the year before, Norman just lost with a six shot lead. It can happen. I had a nine shot lead going in to the last day and figured it could still happen. I just need to stick to my guns; play the par-5s well, play smart, and things should go my way. But guys, if they get hot and shoot a 65, I have to be able to counter that with an even par or under par round. So, my whole focus the last day was to shoot something in the 60s. If I shot something in the 60s I figured no one was going to shoot 59 there. So, I thought I would be OK.
You were met with some mixed reaction from the veterans on the PGA TOUR early in your career a lot having to do with the enormous contracts that you had initially coming out as a professional. Was there any sort of feeling of validation for you when you won the 97 Masters in terms of how the other players treated you?
Well, I figured it was going to take time because when I first turned pro I hadnt done anything. I had won some amateur stuff but I hadnt really done anything on a professional stage. I had played in professional events but quite frankly I didnt do well at all. Then all of a sudden this little kid gets all these big contractshe hasnt earned his stripes. Yeah, there was quite a bit of resentment but understandable. I hadnt proven myself. And the whole idea is to prove your worth out here. You have to pay your dues and these guys that have been on tour for a number of years and won tournaments and been consistent money winnersand I havent done any of that. So for me, when I won Vegas and beat Davis and then I beat Payne at Disney and then got in to THE TOUR Championship in seven events I think that validated a lot; hey this kid can play a little bit. Eventually I ended up winning The Masters the following year.
Are you comfortable with the fact that the 97 Masters is really your only major that is considered a socially significant major? I mean, all major victories are significant. But that major, the 97 Masters, thats the one people look at and say that major made a difference.
Well its not too often youre a first. And the first to ever win a major as a minority ' a person of color ' there can only be one and I was very lucky to have been the first. Unfortunately the first. Unfortunately I have that stigma. I just wish that guys before me would have had more opportunities I think it would have happened. But that wasnt the case. But thats no longer the case now. Golf has become more inclusive, its grown. People from all over the world are now playing from places that you never would have even dreamt of playing golf. So, the game has certainly opened up its doors and were experiencing a wonderful boom in golf. The viewership is starting to understand that because the game has become more global. Weve seen all these guys from different places come over and play on our TOUR. And its fun to see. You look at the collegiate system; there is certainly a lot more diversity there than there ever was when I played.
You were given a standing ovation by the kitchen staff, the security officers at Augusta National at the Champions Dinner. You were only 21-years old at that time. Did you think of the long-term effect of what you were going to accomplish coming in to golf and becoming a champion in golf?
At that age, no. No. I didnt realize the enormity of that winwhat it had done for different people around the country and how people viewed it. For me, it was my first major. (laughs) I was just stoked on that. When people viewed it in a sociological sense, well, I hadnt really looked at it like that before. I was so engulfed in trying to win a golf tournament because you have to put everything aside and say its a golf tournament. Yes, its a major. Yeah, its at Augusta National. Is there history there? Yes. Its good and bad for minorities. So from that standpoint, I started realizing that over the years. It wasnt that year, or even just subsequent years to follow. It took a while for me to truly understand the ramifications of that one win.
Thank a lot, Tiger.
You got it. Thanks, Casey.
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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings
Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.
Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.
As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.
"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."
Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.
Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.
Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut
If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.
Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.
But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.
Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.
Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:
Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180
Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70
Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5
Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450
Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200
Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000
Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements
SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.
Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.
“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.
Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.
“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”
Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.
“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”
Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back
SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.
Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.
Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim.
Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.