Golf’s most famous two-word phrase was said on Aug. 28th, 1996. “I guess, hello world”, Tiger Woods remarked as he walked into a press conference just over two decades ago.
Nearly 20 years ago, Woods was welcomed into the professional golf ranks as a 21-year-old. His resume was truly astounding: three U.S. Amature titles along with playing in three of the four Major championships.
Saying hello can be a bit daunting sometimes, especially if you don’t know who you are greeting. Woods was no exception to this rule when he discussed the decision to go pro with his parents. Keep in mind, Woods still had a year left at Standford and per usual parents want to see their children finish what they start in school.
“Several weeks ago I spoke with some very special people,” Woods said in 1996. “My parents. And told them that after a frustrating and painful process, that I was struggling with the decision to become a professional golfer.
Then, I spoke with a very few close friends, whose advice and counsel I trust and respect. And told them of my thoughts. The reactions of both my parents and friends were similar. They asked serious questions and offered their views. And after a heated debate, especially with my dad, told me they (all) would fully support any decision I made.”
To the casual fan, Woods becoming a golfer seemed to be as factual as gravity is to science. Things were meant to be subject to these laws of physics just like Tiger Woods was meant to play professional golf…and play it well.
The frustration really came down to making a tough decision to not only to put his education on hold but to leave his lifestyle as a college student. Something we all know is not easy to do when entering the ‘real world’. But Woods’ call on this matter would depend on if he won the U.S. Amateur for a third time.
“It played a vital role, going into the amateur, I knew that I would make a decision to turn pro after the amateur one way or the other. I knew that after I had won there’s really not too much more to achieve in amateur golf. I felt like it was time.”
Now the process leading up to his decision might have been painful and dragged out, but once it was made Woods began his mission.
“There really was no fear because the decision was made so thoroughly and thoughtfully. That there was no fear because it really was the right decision. If I made it a spur of the moment or on a whim it would have been a different story.”
Woods would enter the Greater Milwaukee Open that week in August of 1996. He began the week on a rough note off the course when himself and swing coach Butch Harmon went to the course on the first day. Woods hadn’t received a dime from his $40 million contract with Nike, so Harmon had to foot the $100 bill.
Even with the rocky beginning, Woods would shoot 67-69 in the first two rounds and make the cut. He would finish the tournament T-60, but at least he made $2,544 in earnings.
Just enough to pay back Harmon.