Tiger Woods collected his first of 79 PGA Tour victories on this day 21 years ago.
Its been some time since we have seen Tiger Woods in action on the PGA Tour. That will all change when he tee’s off next week at the Safeway Open. It will be the first time we’ll see Woods in action other than plucking a few balls in the water last year at the Shots for Heroes Charity Tournament. The timing couldn’t be more perfect as 20 years prior, Woods won his first PGA Tour event.
Woods first win came at the Las Vegas Invitational (now Shriners Hospital for Children Open) against Davis Love III in a playoff. Tiger had turned pro earlier that summer and was gaining momentum all the way until his first win. In his three events before the Las Vegas Invitational Woods finished 11th, T-5th, T-3rd. He had huge help from his final day charge by firing a 64 to erase a four-stroke deficit while shooting -4 on the back nine.
While Tiger was sitting in the clubhouse, Love III was making a comeback on the 15th hole. He drove the 341 yard par 4 and then calmly sank a 20 foot eagle putt for eagle. This put him at 26 under par…just one stroke behind Woods. On the 16th hole Love III two putted his way to a birdie to become even with Woods. At this point, Love III was in the driver’s seat and would let the tournament slip away by missing birdie putts on 17 & 18.
The Playoff: The Rookie versus The Veteran
On the playoff hole, the only playoff hole Woods and Love III both hit pretty drives down the middle of the fairway. Tiger went first with his approach, a shot that drifted slightly right of the flag stick yet pin high. Davis Love sent his approach in a green side bunker giving the rookie the advantage. Woods sat about 18 feet from the hole for a birdie attempt which he missed by a foot. Love III blasted his bunker shot to six feet while Tiger safely two putted. It was all up to Love III to sink a 6 footer to prolong the playoff, but misread the putt pushing it left of the hole.
His distance was key for TPC Summerlin because of the amount of par 5’s and limited rough. Some players proclaimed that the course was “made for his game”. In conclusion, Tiger Woods went on to have one of the most successful and most profitable golfing careers in the history of the game. His legacy and effect on the game will last forever and we know everyone secretly hopes he has one more major in him.
Note: It was comical to see the amount of fellow professionals and instructors who commented on Tiger’s win…
“We all knew he was going to win some time… I just didn’t want it to be today.”
-Davis Love III said after the loss.
“Am I surprised?…I’m surprised it didn’t come sooner!”
-Famed Instructor Butch Harmon
Josh Morris is the Editor of Golf History Today. A proud USGA Volunteer and golf enthusiast. In his free time he enjoys being a weekend caddie as well as playing as much as he can.