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On This Date in Sports April 13, 1997: Begin the Era of Tiger

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Tiger Woods wins his first major, shooting a record 18 under par to win the Masters by 12 strokes over Tom Kite at Augusta National. From a multicultural background, Tiger Woods is the first African American and Asian American golfer to win a major.  He is also the youngest to win the Masters at 21. After a slow start on Thursday, Tiger Woods found his stroke on the back nine and never looked back, taking the lead on Friday and pulling away to a dominant victory. It would be the first five Green Jackets for Tiger Woods, one short of Jack Nicklaus' record. He also ranks second with 15 major championships. 

Tiger Woods was born Eldrick Tont Woods on December 30, 1975, in Cypress, California. His father, an Army Officer, and his mother from Thailand met during the Vietnam War. The nickname Tiger came from a Sout Vietmanese Colonel whom his father had served. Barely out of diapers, Tiger Woods showed a natural ability on the golf course. At the age of three, he putted against Bob Hope and made television appearances on the "Mike Douglas Show" and "That's Incredible." He won the Junior World Golf Championship six times. Making his first PGA Tour appearance at the age of 15, Tiger Woods was the top High School Golfer and later a star at Stanford. 

In 1996, Tiger Woods turned professional, receiving a lucrative endorsement deal from Nike, as he won an unprecedented third straight U.S. Amateur Championship. Tiger won two tournaments after turning professional, making the cut in all eight tournaments he played in at the end of the season. 

When the 1997 Masters began, all eyes were on Tiger Woods, who was playing in his first major as a professional. Things started poorly for Tiger as he bogeyed the first hole. Perhaps suffering from anxiety, Tiger Woods had four bogeys and sat at +4 at the turn. Things would turn around as Tiger Woods got birdies on three of the next four holes. On the 15th, Tiger Woods got an eagle to drop into red numbers, finishing with a two-under 70 after a -6 on the back nine. 

Trailing John Huston by three strokes after the first round, Tiger Woods carried the momentum from the back nine and shot a 66 on Friday to soar into the lead. Again he excelled on the back-nine, scoring an eagle three on the 13th hole to take the lead he would hold for the remainder of the tournament. Saturday was Tiger at his steady best, as he had a bogey-free round and shot a 65 to take a nine-stroke lead Costatina Rocco at -15. 

Sunday at the Masters was a coronation of Tiger Woods, as he was clear of the field and did enough to make the tournament never feel close. Rocca dropped three strokes, while Tom Kite rose into second place with a 70 to finish at -6. Shaking off two bogeys, Tiger Woods finished with a 69 to set the tournament record at 270 (-18).