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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Davies wins by 10 on 'best ball-striking round'
WHEATON, Ill. - Laura Davies immediately recognized the significance of having her name inscribed on the first U.S. Senior Women's Open trophy.
It might be a long time before anyone secures the title as emphatically as Davies did.
Davies went virtually unchallenged in Sunday's final round of the inaugural USGA championship for women 50 and older, claiming the title by 10 strokes over Juli Inkster.
''It's great seeing this (trophy) paraded down for the very first time and I get my name on it first, you know?'' Davies said. ''This championship will be played for many years and there will only be one first winner - obviously a proud moment for me to win that.''
The 54-year-old Davies shot a 5-under 68 to finish at 16-under 276 at Chicago Golf Club.
It was the English player's 85th career win, and she felt the pressure even though her lead was rarely in danger.
''I haven't won for eight years - my last win was India, 2010,'' Davies said. ''So that's the pressure you're playing under, when you're trying to do something for yourself, prove to yourself you can still win.
''So this ranks highly up there. And obviously it's a USGA event. It's hard comparing tournaments, but this is very high on my list of achievements.''
A 7-under 66 Saturday provided Davies with a five-shot lead over Inkster and what she said would be a sleepless night worrying about the pressure.
The World Golf Hall of Famer widened her advantage early Sunday when she birdied the par-5 second hole and Inkster made bogey. Davies said a par she salvaged at the 10th was another turning point.
''It wasn't the greatest hole I ever played, but I think that, to me, was when I really started to think I might have one hand on the trophy and just had to get the other one in there.''
Inkster shot an even-par 73. England's Trish Johnson also shot 73 to finish third, 12 shots back.
''I mean, she was absolutely spectacular this week,'' Johnson said about Davies. ''I've played against her for 35 years. Yesterday was the best I have ever seen her play in her entire career.
''She just said walking down 18 it was best ball-striking round she ever had. Considering she's won 85 tournaments, that's quite some feat.''
Danielle Ammaccapane was fourth and Yuko Saito finished fifth. Martha Leach was the top amateur, tying for 10th at 6-over 298.
Davies plans to play in the Women's British Open next month, and called this win a confidence-booster as she continues to compete against the younger generation. She finished tied for second at the LPGA's Bank of Hope Founders Cup earlier this year.
''You build up a little bit of momentum, and a golf course is a golf course,'' Davies said. ''Sometimes the field strength is a little bit different, but in your own mind if you've done something like this, 16 under for four rounds around a proper championship course, it can't do anything but fill you full of confidence.''
Romo rallies to win American Century Championship
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. - Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo rallied from four points back to win his first American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe on Sunday.
Romo, who retired after the 2016 NFL season and is now an NFL analyst, had 27 points on the day to beat three-time defending champion Mark Mulder and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the the leader after the first two rounds.
''It's a special win,'' said Romo, who had finished second three times in seven previous trips to the annual celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. ''It feels like you're playing a tournament back home here. The day felt good for a lot of reasons.''
Romo tapped in for par, worth one point, on the 18th hole to finish with 71 points, three ahead of Mulder, the former major league pitcher. He then caught a flight to Berlin, Wis., where he was to compete in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament on Monday.
The American Century Championship uses a modified Stableford scoring system which rewards points for eagles (six), birdies (three) and pars (one) and deducts points (two) for double bogeys or worse. Bogeys are worth zero points.
Pavelski had a 7-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th that could have tied Romo, but it slid by. He finished with 66 points, tied for third with Ray Allen, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 7.
''It feels like nothing went in for me today,'' Pavelski said. ''But I couldn't ask for more than to have that putt to tie on the last hole.''
Romo plays as an amateur, so his $125,000 first-place check from the $600,000 purse will go to local charities and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, the primary charitable arm of title sponsor American Century Investments.
Rounding out the top five were Trent Dilfer, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, and former tennis player Mardy Fish. Each had 62 points.
Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, who fell out of contention with a mediocre round Saturday, jumped into Lake Tahoe amidst much fanfare after losing a bet to his father, Dell. The elder Curry jumped into the lake last year, so he negotiated a 20-point handicap and won by two points.
Other notable players in the 92-player field included John Smoltz, the MLB hall of Fame pitcher who two weeks ago competed in the U.S. Senior Open and finished 10th here with 53 points; Steph Curry, who finished tied for 11th with retired Marine and wounded war hero Andrew Bachelder (50); actor Jack Wagner (16th, 47 points); Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (tied for 18th, 44 points); actor Ray Romano (tied for 71st, minus-26 points); comedian Larry the Cable Guy (tied for 77th, minus-33 points); and former NBA great Charles Barkley, who finished alone in last with minus-93 points.
The tournament drew 57,097 fans for the week, setting an attendance record for the fourth straight year.
Singh tops Maggert in playoff for first senior major
HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Vijay Singh birdied the second playoff hole to beat Jeff Maggert and win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday.
Singh knocked in a putt from about 2 feet after a nearly perfect approach on the 18th hole at Exmoor Country Club, giving an understated fist pump as the ball fell in. That gave him his first major title on the PGA Tour Champions to go with victories at the Masters and two PGA Championships.
Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) finished at 17 under.
Maggert had chances to win in regulation and on the first playoff hole.
He bogeyed the par-4 16th to fall into a tie with Singh at 20 under and missed potential winning birdie putts at the end of regulation and on the first playoff hole.
His 15-footer on the 72nd hole rolled wide, forcing the playoff, and a downhill 12-footer on the same green went just past the edge.
The 55-year-old Singh made some neat par saves to get into the playoff.
His tee shot on 17 landed near the trees to the right of the fairway, and his approach on 18 wound up in a bunker. But the big Fijian blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par.
McCarron - tied with Maggert and Bart Bryant for the lead through three rounds - was trying to join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this major. He came back from a six-shot deficit to win at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year and got off to a good start on Sunday.
He birdied the first two holes to reach 18 under. But bogeys on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes knocked him off the lead. His tee shot on No. 7 rolled into a hole at the base of a tree and forced him to take an unplayable lie.
Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship
Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.
It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.
The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.
The week was more than nostalgic.
It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.
In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.
“I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”
Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.
“It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”
Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.
The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.
“It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”
Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.
“Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”
She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.
“Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.
At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.
With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.
This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.
“A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”
Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.
“It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.
In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.