Exclusive: Tiger Woods details triumph in new book 'The 1997 Masters: My Story'

TImothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Exclusive: Tiger Woods details triumph in new book 'The 1997 Masters: My Story'

PGA Tour

Exclusive: Tiger Woods details triumph in new book 'The 1997 Masters: My Story'

(Editor’s note: In the March edition of Golfweek, staff writer Martin Kaufmann reviews “The 1997 Masters: My Story.” Tiger Woods recounts the 20th anniversary of his first triumph at Augusta through the lens of author Lorne Rubenstein. Below are some excerpts from the book. For more excerpts and Kaufmann’s review, see the March edition of Golfweek. For more unique content, subscribe to Golfweek. Visit “The 1997 Masters: My Story” to purchase the book.)

Friday, April 11, 1997

Paul Azinger and I were walking side by side up the seventeenth fairway early Friday evening. Our second round was nearly over, and we were chatting away. Paul was even for the round and 3 under for the tournament, while I was 6 under for the day and 8 under through the thirty-four holes I’d played. I was leading the Masters, and I’d played well the second round. My concentration was sharp, and I was hitting plenty of solid shots that came off the clubface just as I wanted. While I didn’t want to get distracted – I still had a hole and a half to play – there was no reason we couldn’t talk between shots. … 

My heart rate was elevated as Paul and I walked up the seventeenth fairway, because I had gotten so intense as the round progressed. Fluff’s (caddie Mike Cowan) jokes relaxed me, and so did the brief conversations Paul and I had. Now it was time to take my heart rate down because I was about to play. … I was able to get into an almost meditative state on the course when required.

I parred seventeen and eighteen to shoot 66 and take a three-shot lead over the field.

Tiger Woods donned his first Masters’ champion green jacket with a little help from Nick Faldo in 1997. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

Saturday, April 12, 1997

If I needed any extra motivation for my third round, Colin Montgomerie provided it during his media conference the day before. Monty was in second place, three shots behind me, and so we were going to play together in the last twosome on Saturday, just after two o’clock. At the conference, Monty was asked about our prospects for Saturday, and he spoke his mind, saying that everybody would see in the third round what I was made of, and that experience was a “key factor.” … His comments only strengthened my resolve to play my best golf the rest of the way. … 

I had a clean card, eleven pars and seven birdies, for 65. That was the kind of golf I had been working toward. Monty and I shook hands on the eighteenth green. His 74 had put him twelve shots behind me, after starting the round three shots behind. He was beaten up but cordial. … 

The media wanted to talk to Monty, and he accepted their invitation.

“There is no chance humanly possible that Tiger is just going to lose this tournament,” Monty said. Somebody mentioned that (Greg) Norman had lost a six-shot lead the previous year. Monty came up with “This is different. This is very different. (Nick) Faldo is not lying second for a start [Costantino Rocca was second, nine shots behind me], and Greg Norman is not Tiger Woods.” 

Sunday, April 13, 1997

Writing from the vantage point of twenty years after I won the 1997 Masters, I see that the lessons of Augusta keep repeating themselves. My dad was right when we spoke that Saturday night. I would have to play an efficient last round and not get caught up in anything except trying to execute my plan. It had been only a year since I had taken a nine-shot lead into the last round of the NCAA Championships at the Honors Course near Nashville and shot 80. I still won the individual title by three shots. But 80? I was angry and disappointed in myself. …

Tiger Woods roared after winning the 1997 Masters tournament, shooting a record 18-under-par. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

Still, thoughts of winning the Masters did flit through my mind, and sometimes for a minute or two. Could this really happen? Was I about to become the youngest golfer to win the Masters? Would winning create opportunities in golf for minorities, as many people were suggesting? What would winning mean to the black golfers before me who had suffered in a world where the color of their skin mattered to people, and in which they didn’t have the opportunities I had, not even close? Would winning a golf tournament, even the Masters, really have the social significance that was predicted? The only way we would find out was if I went out and stuck to my game plan and won that green jacket . … 

Later I learned that Augusta staff members, many of them African-Americans, came out to the oak tree on the lawn near the first tee to watch me start. Other staff members were also there. It was time for me to do something at the Masters that had never been done. The thought crossed my mind as I approached the first tee, and then it slipped away. I had fallen into my bubble of concentration. … 

I had won by twelve shots and broken the Masters record for the low score in the tournament. Tom Kite shot 70 in the last round and finished second. 

Fluff and I embraced on the green, and a minute later my dad and I were hugging and I was crying. I rarely ever cried. But at that moment, I did. My dad had flatlined a few months before. We’d almost lost him. And here he was, with my mom behind the eighteenth green. As we hugged, Pop said, “I love you, and I’m so proud of you.” 

Excerpted from THE 1997 MASTERS: My Story by Tiger Woods with Lorne Rubenstein. Copyright @ 2017 by ETW Corp. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.

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