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Sportsman '96: Recalling the Tiger Woods of 20 Years Ago Podcast

Photo: Michael O'Neill

Tiger Woods was the first athlete to be named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year twice.

"Who will win? The machine…or the youth who has just entered its maw?"

That sentence was the focal point of Gary Smith's 1996 profile of newly crowned Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, Tiger Woods. Woods had just won his third consecutive U.S. Amateur title and two PGA Tour events.

He was 20 years old, still green and jumping into the "maw" of the machine or, in other words, the pressures of fame and media. Would he win? Or would the machine squash him like it had done so many others? Smith sits on the fence as he reaches the conclusion of the article. Hindsight could form an opinion in 2016, but Smith joined the Podcast this week to discuss what we learned and knew of Woods, the 20-year-old.

RELATED: Tiger Woods's 24 Sports Illustrated Covers

Smith discusses the incredible influence of Tiger’s father Earl Woods, the drive and control of Woods as a 20-year-old, the regrets he had about turning professional and what it meant culturally to have a young, black golfer rise to domination in a generally old, white sport. Check it out in the podcast below.


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