While it's hard to remember the Masters without Tiger Woods, here, from the pages of our sister publication Sports Illustrated, is a decade-old snapshot of something you'll never forget: the nail-biting quiet before Tiger's first Masters as a professional in 1997, and the aftereffect of the most dominating performance ever seen up to that time in a major championship. (Unattributed lines excerpted from stories by Rick Reilly, John Garrity and Jaime Diaz.)
One week prior to the 1997 Masters
The Sports Illustrated headline:
THINK TIGERMANIA IS AT A FEVER PITCH? WAIT UNTIL HE WINS THE GREEN JACKET NEXT WEEK IN AUGUSTA\n
"Already, 1997 has a different feel. The low expectations and general malaise that characterized the Tour's old order have been replaced by a sense of urgency that's shared by rookies as well as longtime campaigners."
"In the seven months Woods has been a professional, the sight and sound of his shots on the practice tee and the frequency of his name on the leader board have motivated many players to flatten their bellies, tighten their swings and intensify their powers of concentration."
"His African-American heritage would make a victory in [the Masters], in which no black was invited to play until 1975 and where every caddie was black until '83, a transcendent accomplishment."
"[By winning at Augusta] Woods would graduate from being the game's most talented player to its best, until further notice. And by winning a Grand Slam event at a younger age than Jack Nicklaus, Woods would be off to a flying start in his race against the record of the golfer with whom he is unavoidably compared."
"Augusta is made for Woods. His combination of length, high, soft-landing iron shots and delicate touch around the greens are the classic building blocks for Masters victories."
"As far as talent and potential, Tiger is the best I've ever seen. But what's best about him is that when there is chaos all around him, he can concentrate and perform." - Steve Elkington
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