& # 039; I left my childhood and became a man & # 039; – when Tiger met the Masters

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Woods attended Stanford University at the time of his first Masters in 1995

This month marks the anniversary of Tiger Woods' victory over the 2019 Masters, ending his 11-year wait for 15th title. BBC Sport charts the American's journey to his first major appearance in 1995, in an updated article first published in April 2019.

Tiger Woods was unimpressed with his first glimpse of Augusta National.

The unmistakable canopy of blooming magnolia trees leading the best names of golf down the 300-meter driveway to the Founders Circle and the iconic clubhouse did not capture his imagination.

"Magnolia Lane, is that it?" Asked a 19-year-old Woods to journalists. "It was a short drive. From what everyone is saying, it is majestic."

Woods was comfortable from the moment he arrived at his first Masters in April 1995 after qualifying as an American amateur champion.

From the time his father Earl handed him a club for his first birthday, he had been going there, captivated by this tournament since he first saw it on TV in 1980 at the age of four.

Competing with Augusta was always the dream, and although he noted that the clubhouse was "a lot smaller than it looks on TV," Woods privately told close friend Mark Soltau how he got his bedroom in the Crow & # 39; s Nest ventured out to roam the historic building at night.

During the day he practiced relentlessly. With his parents in town and Woods on the road on every occasion, Earl joked at a press conference during the build-up with journalists that it was the first time he & # 39; Hi, Tiger & # 39; should have said.

"Hi, Pop," his son replied, before suggesting that the first major of his career was "just another tournament" and insisted his game be ready for Thursday's opening round.

Woods first mixed with the stars during a major, en route to practice rounds with Nick Faldo, Raymond Floyd, Greg Norman and Fred Couples after arriving on Sunday.

In his round on Monday with Faldo Woods, the then two-time Masters champion caught the eye when he hit the par-fifth 15th hole in two strokes.

"He hits it long," said Faldo, explaining that the teen's shoulders are "impressively fast through the ball – that's where he gets his strength."

That power was s omething Woods' first coach Rudy Duran witnessed when he was just four years old.

Woods & # 39; Vietnam veteran father Earl would take his young son to hit balls on the military courses at their home in Orange County, Southern California – and by the time his mother, Kutilda, took the prodigy to Heartwell Golf Course in Long Beach, Tiger hurled like a natural person.

During his first meeting with Woods, Duran took him to the beach and ripped four balls before stepping back and watched his new student unleash a kindergarten club.

"Bam, bam, bam, bam … he hit four perfect drivers about 60m away. I was like & # 39; Woah! & # 39; & # 39 ;, Duran tells BBC Sports.

"Then I threw a few balls on the chipping green. He hit them and turned around and asked me – he had a bit of a stutter – if I wanted him to" ; lifted & # 39 ;.

"I remember hearing Tiger say he wanted to win the US Open when he was about 7. He dreamed of winning big tournaments when he was very young, but I wasn't grooming a professional – he could trip and fall and break his arm or crash his bike or something, it wasn't his parents' or me's mission to make him a professional. "

A young Tiger Woods with his coach Rudy Duran

Woods' parents were very proud and emotionally invested in their son's burgeoning golf career, but while growing up his mother had brought an academic focus – homework came to life.

That was an attitude Woods would take to Stanford University in 1994 after writing a handwritten note to men's golf coach Wally Goodwin four years earlier, expressing his interest in joining a team that previously bragged about players like Tom Watson – a letter from the coach still estimate.

"He could have gone anywhere in the country – everyone knew about him, everyone wanted him," said Soltau, who was wide-eyed as Woods hit balls on the cold fall afternoon they met during the first semester of the player.

"What Tiger sold at Stanford were the academics, especially his mother. She was determined he would have a great education.

" If you ask him now, he will say are two years at Stanford were two of the best years of his life. It was certainly an adaptation, because since he was just as famous and successful as he was at a young age, he wasn't sure how he would fit. What he quickly discovered was that it was quite a high curve.

"Everyone at Stanford excels at something – be it business or art or music, you name it, everyone has something special and he liked that. For the first time in his life, he was a little anonymous walk around and nobody would bother him. He could do whatever he wanted. "

If he wasn't playing golf or studying, Woods would love to talk to other students in his dorm – something they" rap called.

"He loved rapping, sometimes all night with people from different backgrounds," added Soltau, now an assistant communications director at Stanford Athletics. "He was like a sponge – he absorbed things and listened a lot.

" He noted how a guy in the hallway built a computer from scratch in his freshman year and another man was getting ready to be his own company – those are Stanford-esque things that he loved and embraced. "

& # 39; Here I left my childhood and became a man & # 39 ;, Woods later wrote

six months in his tenure at Stanford, and after winning his first college tournament to make a bet with coach Goodwin, this meant he shouldn't have to observe the tradition of the team's freshman luggage during outings, Woods was on the opening shirt in Augusta, ready to play his first hole in a major, his parents ready to take every hole with him to walk.

Woods would always spark interest in his Masters debut – he has been in the media since he was two when he included comedian Bob Hope in a putting game for The Mike Douglas Show, although the younger one was just that TV. saw performances as food when he could play golf.

He was only the fourth black player and the first black amateur to participate in Augusta. He was the reigning American amateur champion and a marvelous talent who had won every major junior championship.

After Woods was linked to defending champion Jose Maria Olazabal in the first round, Woods recovered from an opening bogey in which he putted a long distance past the hole and on the other side of the rolling green, to par-five. seconds to birdie after a beautiful approach to the green from under some trees.

Trying to get a handle on the buzz of a packed Augusta, the fresh-faced amateur dropped more shots at three and five, but clawed back to level par by the time he reached Amen Corner, alone to see another bogey in view of the colorful azalea flowers at 13.

Woods made quick work of the par-five 15th and recovered again and returned to the clubhouse after signing for a level- par 72 that impressed Olazabal.

"I needed binoculars to see where it hit the ball," said the Spaniard.

Woods continued his form in Friday's game, spending most of the round doing an undersized birdie on the 13th after navigating a pine tree and clearing out Rae & # 39; s Creek – before a bogey on the 18th made him a second consecutive 72 and became the only amateur to make the cut for the weekend.

That evening, Earl drove his son to Forest Hills, a nearby public golf course, to host a free golf clinic as a way to honor the local black men who were used as caddies in the Masters until 1982.

"It's a way of saying thanks and a promise to carry the baton," said Earl at the time.

Woods steamed in Saturday's game with early birdies to bring him within five shots of eventual winner Ben Crenshaw, but Augusta bit back and dropped a humble four-putt from the edge of the green on the par. five eighth marked the start of a difficult spell that saw him finish at five over for the day and drift out of the fray.

The teenager couldn't hide his frustration, believing he should have joined to claim the green coat.

"I feel this place is perfect for me. I think I should get to know it better," he added, before going to the beach and dazzling the audience By hitting a distance over the net in the distance.

With the pressure off, Woods closed with three birdies in his last four holes to combine another nice 72 on Sunday and finish in 41st place. It laid the foundation for him to win the Green Jacket two years later after turning professional.

"It gave him a better understanding of what the environment and atmosphere was like," says Soltau . " To absorb everything and to know that this was a place where he belonged and where he could play and win.

"That prompted him to succeed in 1997, because by then he was a little bit taller and stronger and more mature and competent."

Woods left Augusta National that night after his Masters- debut came to an end on Monday to rush back for a history lesson at Stanford in the morning, but not before leaving with a letter of thanks to the cl membership of ub.

Since that disappointing first impression seven days earlier, the 19-year-old had fallen in love with a location he was about to dominate – contributing to his first Masters title in 1997 with wins in 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2019.

"Please accept my sincere thanks for giving me the opportunity to experience the most beautiful week of my life," wrote Woods.

"It was Fantasyland and Disney World in one. I was treated like a gentleman during my stay and I trust I responded in kind. The Crow's Nest will always stay in my heart and you beautiful golf course will provide an ongoing challenge throughout my amateur and professional career.

"I have achieved a lot here and learned even more. Your tournament will always have a special place in my heart as the place where I made my first PGA cut and another big one! Here I left my childhood and became a man. For that I will be eternally in your debt. "

Woods is watching, with 40-year-old Greg Norman as a company

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