Tiger Woods: 'I fell asleep hugging the Green Jacket like a blanket.'
Tiger Woods won’t be in the field at this year’s Masters but the four-time champion has been reminiscing about his first victory – 20 years ago – in his new book.
Unprecedented: The Masters and Me looks back at his iconic victory in 1997 and, in this excerpt from the book, Tiger remembers his moment of victory…
I reacted with a right-arm uppercut. I had won by 12 shots and broken the Masters record for the low score of the tournament.
Fluff and I embraced on the green, a minute later my dad and I were hugging and I was crying. I rarely ever cried. But at that moment, I did. My dad had flatlined a few months before. We’d almost lost him. And here he was, with my mom behind the 18th green. As we hugged, Pop said, “I love you, and I’m so proud of you.”
Those words kept coming back to me for years, and they still do. I keep going back to his words. I will always cherish and never forget the embraces I shared with Pop and mom behind the 18th green, the moment after I won my first Masters.
After signing my scorecard, I saw Lee Elder and thanked him for his sacrifices and what he meant to the game, how hard he fought to make it to the Masters in 1975. He became the first black golfer to play the Masters in the year I was born. I had often thought of that.
I was taken to the Butler’s Cabin for the traditional televised ceremony where the defending champion placed the green jacket on the winner’s shoulders. It fit well. I wondered how Nick Faldo felt about having to hang around all weekend after missing the cut.
Jim Nantz asked me what my plan had been for the round, and then mentioned I was the first African-American, and the first Asian-American, to win the Masters. He asked me what that meant to me.
I told him that this Masters was all about the black golfers who had come before me, what they had done for me, and that I wasn’t a pioneer. They were the pioneers. Coming up 18, I said a little prayer for them.
My next move was to the media centre, but I got a call just before I got there. President Bill Clinton was on the line. He knew what the moment was all about, because he said the best thing he saw all day was my father and me embracing behind the 18th green.
Augusta quickly became a ghost town. As loud and as big as that sporting event with tens of thousands of spectators, it was empty just two or three hours later. They wanted it back to being a club as quickly as possible.
We had a CD by the hip-hop group Quad City DJs, and we put the song “C’Mon N’ Ride It (The Train)” on at full blast as we drove down Magnolia Lane to Washington Road, with the windows rolled down in the big Cadillac courtesy car. That song had never likely been played while driving down Magnolia Lane – nor that loudly.
We stopped at Arby’s and continued to the house. We all made toasts to Pop, and basically told him to get the hell out of there and go to bed, because, one, he shouldn’t have been at the Masters given his condition; and two, he shouldn’t be up that late; and three, he wasn’t feeling very well and needed the rest; and four, we were about to blow the top off every bottle in the house.
I wasn’t a big drinker, but I was the Masters champion, and everybody was going to town that night.
Later, after much celebration, I fell asleep fully clothed and hugging the green jacket like a blanket.
Tiger’s been a closed book at press conferences for two decades so it shouldn’t be a surprise he isn’t suddenly opening up now he’s written his own page turner, writes Steve Carroll.
This is a surgical shot-by-shot review of his first Masters – and first major – win and there will be readers who will lap up his forensic analysis of the tournament.
But for me, it feels like listening to one of Tiger’s interviews, largely devoid of feeling and emotion.
I wanted to learn about the man, but the expose books from Hank Haney and Steve Williams provide more detail than his own voice. Not that there isn’t anything to glean from an otherwise sterile examination.
Tiger’s review of the changes made at Augusta since his ‘97 triumph will be illuminating for anyone with an interest in topography.
But it is when the guard drops, when he talks about the racism he encountered in his youth, the relationship with his parents, how he destroyed Monty in round three after the Scot had questioned his credentials at the half-way stage and how he went to sleep clutching his green jacket, that you are riveted.
These moments, though, feel few and far between. That’s a shame. We’ve waited 20 years to hear Tiger’s story. One day, he might actually tell it.
Now win a copy…
Thanks to publishers Little, Brown UK, NCG has FIVE copies of Tiger Woods’ book, Unprecedented: The Masters and Me, to give away.
For your chance to get your hands on a copy, click here.
The competition will close at 12pm on Friday April 7.