Tiger Woods and the Masters: A Look at the Golfer’s Legacy
Published 2 months ago
Tiger Woods is widely renowned as one of the best golfers to have ever played the game. He has become bigger than the sport itself, and is recognized as the driving force behind the success of the modern game. Many of today’s top PGA professionals were inspired to take up the game by watching Woods dominate the sport during the 2000s.
But how did Tiger Woods become so famous and why is the Masters Tournament at Augusta National so intertwined with the history of Woods’ rise to superstardom? Let’s take a look at Tiger Woods and the Masters to learn more about the golfer’s legacy and his experience at this iconic golf course.
A Brief History of Augusta National Golf Club
The Augusta National Golf Club (ANGC) — sometimes called Augusta or the National — is home of the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. It’s one of the most private golf clubs and courses in the world with membership tightly controlled and the list of members kept a strict secret.
Founded by golfer Bobby Jones and American investor Clifford Roberts, Augusta National opened in 1932. The prestigious Masters golf course held its first tournament in 1934. The first Masters was known as the Augusta National Invitation Tournament, and the first winner of the tournament was Horton Smith who won on March 22, 1934.
If you’re lucky enough to be offered membership to Augusta National Golf Club, it would cost you a one-time fee of over $100,000. But if you’re able to play with a member as a guest, it is reported that green fees are as low as $40 for 18 holes.
Winning the Masters
The Masters is unique in many ways. The winner of this major golf competition not only wins the beautiful trophy that depicts a replica of the Augusta National Golf Club Clubhouse, but they also earn their own famous green jacket.
Previously only set aside for club members, this jacket has been presented to the winner of the competition since 1949. Legendary golfer Sam Snead was the first winner to be presented with this honor. Along with this green jacket comes a lifetime membership to the super-exclusive Augusta National Golf Club.
Another unique perk of winning the Masters is that as a previous winner you get to host the Champions Dinner. The Champions Dinner is a formal evening event held before the start of the Masters.
Every previous winner is invited to attend and requested to wear their green jacket along with the Augusta National Golf Club members. The previous champion has the honor of choosing the menu for the meal. Tiger Woods, in his first Champions Dinner host role, chose a menu of a cheeseburger, grilled chicken, french fries, and milkshakes.
It’s not only perks, trophies, and green jackets if you win the Masters, though. You also stand to make a lot of money. In 2021, the Masters Champion Hideki Matsuyama won $2,070,000 — a significant increase from the $1,500 purse by the first Masters Champion Horton Smith in 1934!
Tiger Woods at the Masters
There’s never been a player like Tiger Woods at the Masters. He’s unlike any other golfer in the history of the game for many reasons. Woods was a fierce competitor and had a strong desire to win at all costs from an early age. This translated on the course where he won twice as much as the closest rival on the PGA.
Woods won 15 major championship tournaments, second only to the legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus. Not only did Woods win these tournaments, but in many, he dominated his closest competitors, winning by large margins. For example, he won by 12 strokes over Tom Kite in the 1997 Masters Tournament.
This desire to win and dominance over his closest rivals meant that Woods was the golf world's number one player for 679 weeks. Woods’ closest rival Greg Norman only managed this for 331 weeks. When Woods won the 1997 Masters Tournament, he became the youngest player to ever win a golf major at only 21 years of age. To be exact, he was 21 years, 3 months, and 14 days old — it’s still a record.
Through his dominance of the game of golf, Woods has motivated many young people to start playing golf. Furthermore, a whole generation of PGA golfers grew up watching him and have commented on how he inspired them to play.
Tiger Woods played his first Masters Tournament in 1995 as an amateur. He qualified to play in this first major golf competition because he had won the U.S. Amateur title the previous year. The Masters has a tradition of inviting the Amateur Champion from different parts of the world to play as special guests in the tournament.
Often, amateur invitees struggle to perform under the intense scrutiny of the golfing world, not to mention the pressure of playing alongside previous winners. However, in his first-ever major at The Masters, Woods seemed to thrive in this environment. He finished a very respectable 41st as a 19-year-old amateur golfer.
Tiger Woods really enjoyed competing in this tournament. He has played in the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club 23 times in his PGA Tour career, with his most recent appearance in 2020.
In fact, Woods has played the Masters more times than any of the other golf major championships. He has played the U.S. Open 22 times and appeared in the PGA Championship and the Open Championship 21 times during his career.
When Tiger Woods turned professional in 1996 and qualified to play in the 1997 Masters by placing 24th in the 1996 PGA Leading Money List. Woods had won twice on the PGA Tour and earned $790,594.
Tiger Woods’ historic win at the 1997 Masters was not only significant for golf but also for black golfers. Woods was the first black man to win the Masters Tournament.
Robert Lee Elder, the American professional golfer, was the first African American to be allowed to play in the Masters Tournament in 1975. The Augusta National Golf Club had not permitted black players at the club before this date.
Tiger Woods’ historic win 22 years later was a huge milestone for black golfers and was the starting point for the most dominant golfer ever seen.
Tiger Woods’ Masters Dominance
Tiger Woods has won the Masters five times, making him one of the best golfers in Masters history. He’s in great company and is only one win behind the six wins achieved by top golfer Jack Nicklaus during his amazing golfing career.
Woods’ victory in 1997 was the most dominant in the history of the Masters. With a score of 18 under par 270, he broke the 32-year-old record previously held by Nicklaus. Woods’ 12-shot margin of victory over the second-placed golfer Tom Kite is still a Masters record.
Tiger Woods went on to win another two green jackets by winning back-to-back Masters in 2001 and 2002. With his victory in 2002, he became only the third ever golfer to have won back-to-back Masters tournaments. The other golfers who achieved this feat were Jack Nicklaus in 1965 and 1966, and Nick Faldo in 1989 and 1990.
Woods won another Masters title in 2005 in a playoff against Chris DeMarco with a score of 12 under par. This was the 10th Major victory of his career. It had come after he spent time out of the game rehabilitating after knee surgery to his right leg and making changes to his swing. It just shows how impressive Woods was as a player. With all of this change, he was still able to achieve victory at the highest level.
The latest and most iconic of Tiger Woods’ Masters wins came in 2019 when he defied all odds and won the green jacket for the fifth time in his career. This Major win marked Woods’ return to the top of golf after a decade in and out of the game after scandal and back surgery.
Only a select group of players have won the Masters more than once. As mentioned, top of the list is Jack Nicklaus with six wins closely followed by Tiger Woods with five. However, other notable tournament champions with multiple Masters titles include Arnold Palmer, Nick Faldo, Gary Player Seve Ballesteros Ben Hogan, and Byron Nelson.
On his way to his first victory in 1997, Woods shot a score of 65 in his third round. This score is his lowest ever score at Augusta National, a score he would match during his 2005 victory. Woods had previously held the record for the lowest 72-hole winning score with his score of 270. However, this was beaten in 2020 by PGA professional Dustin Johnson with a winning score of 268.
It hasn’t all been under-par though.Tiger Woods’ highest score in a round at Augusta is a 76, which he has shot twice. First in the opening round of the 2003 Masters, and then again in 2020 where he shot a 76 in the final round. This 76 however was notable due to his score of 10, which he took on the 12th hole in this final round. This is Tiger Woods’ highest ever score on a single hole in a major championship.
It goes without saying that Woods has an incredible professional playing record. He has won a stunning record-equaling 82 PGA events and 41 European Tour events. He led the PGA Tour Money List 10 times between 1997 and 2013. He did so not only by being the top golfer of his generation but by also becoming a bigger name than the sport and a world-recognized brand in his own right.
With such an impressive record, it’s no surprise that he has accrued so much prize money from the game. For a sport that isn’t regarded as the richest, he managed to earn over $110 million from golf so far.
In 2009, it was published that Woods had surpassed one billion dollars in earnings from golf. He was the first sports star to achieve this feat. Since then, he has continued to earn, and his sponsorship deals are among the most lucrative in the world of sport.
During 2012, Woods was reported to have made $86 million with nearly $77 million made away from the golf course! Even more staggering is that Woods was able to take time out of the game in 2009 to deal with personal issues, and yet between 2014 and 2017 he continued to top the career earnings list.
Most of Woods’ money came from endorsements. Nike first signed Woods in 1996, and by 2000, the brand signed him to a five-year contract for a reported $100 million. He also had other deals with EA sports and sponsors such as Gatorade, Tag Heuer, Rolex, GM, EA Sports, NetJets, Titleist, Acura, and Taylor Made.
How Did Tiger Woods Make a Comeback at the 2019 Masters?
Woods’ return to winning the 2019 Masters is possibly the greatest comeback in the history of the sport. After dominating the game in the 2000s, he began to suffer from many personal issues following his Masters victory in 2005.
First, he struggled to recover following a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee in 2007. This was followed by speculation of infidelity by Woods. Several women came forward to the media to claim they had been in a relationship with him.
The scandal was taken to another level on the night of November 27, 2009, when Woods had a car crash outside his home in Orlando, Florida. It was reported that his then-wife Elin Nordegren had smashed his car window with a 9 iron during the car accident.
Woods played in the 2010 Masters but the then Augusta National Chairman had openly criticized Woods’ personal conduct saying, “Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children.” This must have been particularly hard for one of the greatest golfers the world had ever seen.
Woods would finish this tournament in fourth place behind eventual winner, and long-time golfing rival, Phil Mickelson.
After a long battle with debilitating back injuries and slipping down the world rankings, there was talk about whether Woods could play golf anymore.
With so much scandal and ongoing personal issues, his golf had been pushed into second place. He arrived at the 2019 Masters having not won the tournament for 14 years. Everyone had low expectations for Woods to compete — in 2018, he finished a long way from the leaders, tied in 32nd place.
However, Woods rededicated himself to golf after the 2018 Masters. He had committed to spending more time with his family and had a strict training plan to rehabilitate. This all paid off. His one-shot victory scoring 275 with a final round of 70 was enough to give Woods his fifth green jacket and his 15th Major title.
Everyone loves a comeback, and this story of redemption captured the attention of the world. It was reported that over 18 million viewers watched his victory putt during the CBS coverage of his final round. Tiger Woods himself was quoted as saying '“life has come full circle for me this year.”
Tiger Woods and the Masters: What Does the Future Hold?
This is the question everyone wants to know the answer to. In 2021, Tiger Woods was involved in another very serious car accident while driving in Los Angeles, California. It was reported that Woods suffered serious leg injuries and required surgery on his lower right leg and ankle.
The seriousness of his leg injuries led many experts to question whether Woods would play golf again. However, as someone who has come back from adversity in the past, he once again proved everyone wrong.
In the 2021 PNC Championship, Tiger Woods and his 12-year-old son Charlie took part in the PNC Championship. They played well as a team and went through the whole 36-hole event without making a bogey. In fact, they were able to make 11 consecutive birdies in the second round.
It was great to see Woods so mobile during the event, which many would not have imagined after his second car accident. It gives fans much hope of a return to play in competitive PGA events in 2022.
There is a huge amount of speculation about whether Woods will play in another Major Championship. Due to his continued rehabilitation, it’s unlikely that we will see very much of him on the course in 2022. While many golfing fans are hoping to see him play at the 2022 Open, much of the talk around this tournament is whether Woods will retire after playing in this major.
The British Open in 2022 will be the 150th time this tournament has been played, and it also returns to St. Andrews, the home of golf, and a course that is very close to Woods' heart. Some golfing commentators have reported that this could be such a significant milestone for Woods that we could see him announce his retirement once he has played in this championship.
The Legacy Continues
The career of Tiger Woods has been so closely linked to the Masters. Not only was it where he won his very first Major Championship, but it was also the course in which he achieved his greatest personal victory in 2019.
Tiger Woods was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on March 9, 2022. No matter what the future holds for Woods, he will always be seen as an inspiration to his fellow professionals and fans around the world. Who knows? With his son Charlie, we might once again see the name Woods engraved on a major golfing trophy.