Tiger's game-changing triumph in 1997 is year zero for golf's new breed

Although tiger Woods put on a great last-round charge last night, his biggest impact on the 75th Masters may have been winning the tournament in 1997. Tiger's historic triumph by 12 strokes has been cited time and again as their main inspiration by the new generation of jacket-seekers, not least third-round leader Rory McIlroy.



As Woods attempts to rediscover his major-winning form, his task is made all the harder by this wave of young players. Back when Tiger was the boy wonder, he was the only one. Now there are so many contenders that as McIlroy imploded shockingly after retaining the lead through to the 10th tee, there were still others to take up the baton and leave Woods just short of redemption. There were the Australians Adam Scott and the 23-year-old Jason Day, followed ultimately by the new champion Charl Schwartzel.

Anniversaries are one of the big traditions at Augusta so there have been reminiscences about Gary Player becoming the first overseas player to win 50 years ago – so fitting with Schwartzel becoming the third South African champion. They do not usually celebrate 14-year anniversaries but the relevance has been forced upon everyone, including Tiger himself.

Since 1997 it has been all about Tiger for young McIlroy. "I was about seven and I can't tell you how much I was playing but I was really keen and playing a lot," McIlroy said. "I watched the previous year when Nick [Faldo] won but it is '97 that I remember watching with my dad."

McIlroy, who at 21 is only eight months older now than Tiger was in '97, can recount every stroke Woods hit as he won his first major championship as a professional. "That's when Tiger grabbed all our imaginations and won it by 12 and broke so many records. It was a huge moment for the game of golf."

Day said when asked for his first Masters memories: "Watching Tiger in '97 and he just blew the field away. That's when I wanted to play well and one day play the Masters, play at Augusta National."

"When Tiger came along, he pretty much changed the game," Day added. "Everyone turned into athletes. We are not fat slobs anymore. He has pretty much changed the game for the good. It just shows how good the coaching is, the science behind the game, and how confident some of these young guys are coming up now."

Rickie Fowler, the American who played with McIlroy and Day on the first two days, is 22 and already a Ryder Cup player. His Masters memories: "The highlights of '86 with Mr Nicklaus would be one but the other, probably the one I've watched the most, is Tiger winning in '97."

Hideki Matsuyama, the Asian Amateur champion, who was the only amateur to make the cut this week, is 19 and also nominated the 1997 Masters as his favourite. Matsuyama is the same age as compatriot Ryo Ishikawa, who has been a prolific winner in Japan for three years.

Charl Schwartzel is 26 so not only missed Player's first win but his third, in 1978, by six years. It was Player who once corrected an American television interviewer who referred to "foreigners" playing in the Masters by saying: "I don't believe in the word 'foreigners' because I think we are all just golfers playing around the world."

For those in America, the world rankings unequivocally reveal the truth of golfers being from all round the world, not just the United States. For the first time ever, no American was in the top-seven of the leaderboard after three rounds of the Masters. For the first time ever, no American finished in the top three.

"There are a bunch of really good players coming through," Schwartzel said. "The world is big. America is big, but the world is bigger."

Chubby Chandler, the manager of McIlroy and Schwartzel as well as Lee Westwood and Ernie Els, takes Player's view. "Everybody is worrying where these kids come from," Chandler said. "Golf's in great shape. They're all great kids who respect the game. I think people should focus on that."

When Woods burst onto the scene, he was the only one. The likes of Sergio Garcia and Scott tried to follow but have yet to hit major success despite each having their near-misses. The difference now is that there are so many youngsters queuing up to usurp Tiger. Once one does, others will surely follow. "A win for the ages," was how Jim Nantz famously called home Woods on American television in 1997. Perhaps only now is the full impact being revealed.

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all