What we learned from Tiger Woods' new book

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He may be crocked (again) but Tiger was busy during his last injury-enforced break penning a new book called Unprecedented: The Masters and Me.

While we all still wonder if Tiger Woods will play in the Masters this year or not, we sat down and read his new book to relive some of the best Tiger Woods Masters moments. 

In his new book, Tiger Woods reflects on his record-breaking victory at Augusta 20 years ago, his relationship with his father Earl, and the dedication it took to reach the top of the game.

We’ll be publishing an exclusive extract in our next issue, which goes on sale April 13. But if you can’t wait until then, we’ve picked out some of the best bits to mark the 20th anniversary of his historic win at Augusta.

15 things we learned from Tiger Woods' new book, Unprecedented: The Masters and Me

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Tiger’s eureka moment came in the 1996 Open

Despite dominating the amateur ranks, it wasn’t until he shot a second-round 66 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger finally realised he was good enough “to compete and win” on Tour. He made seven birdies in an 11-hole stretch, a run which Tiger claims sent his “self-confidence soaring”. He ended up tying the lowest-ever Open amateur score (281) that week and turned pro a month later. 

The 14-time Major champ stuttered as a kid

For a man who seems to breed confidence, Tiger stuttered so badly as a youngster that he would sit at the back of the classroom so teachers wouldn’t ask him questions. He ended up seeing a speech therapist, an experience he claims was more challenging than changing his swing.

Earl trained him to be a “cold-blooded assassin”

Tiger was introduced to what his father called “psychological warfare and prisoner of war techniques” at the age of 11. Earl would push him to the point of insecurity, even shouting profanities when he was hitting balls. Tiger refers to it as “tough love”, taken straight out of the military playbook. It may sound extreme, but Tiger credits his upbringing to his ability to overcome any insecurities. “Had pop not trained me as he had, I could have easily crumbled after how I started the [1997] Masters.”

Tiger putted off the green on his first-ever hole at the Masters

We’ve all done it; ramming a putt so far past the hole that you end up further away than where you started. But if it makes you feel any better, Tiger did it on his first-ever hole at the Masters back in 1995. He had a 25ft putt for birdie on the par-4 1st at Augusta, and ended up playing a bump and run chip for his fourth shot. He eventually walked off with a bogey.

He once played 27 holes with Arnie and Jack at Augusta

In what surely goes down as the greatest three ball in history, the trio played a skins match on the Wednesday before the 1996 Masters. It all came down to the 18th and after Tiger and Jack had holed out for par, Arnie rammed home a 10 footer for birdie to take all the money. They ended up continued their match during the par-3 contest that afternoon, with Jack coming out on top.

Tiger shot a 59 the week before his historic 12-shot victory

Tiger is probably the most high-profile name missing from the 59 club on the PGA Tour, but 20 years ago he warmed up for Augusta by shooting a sub-60 score at Isleworth Country Club in Orlando on the Friday before the Masters. He then got a hole in one the day after, picked the brains of Seve and Olazabal during a practice round at Augusta on the Monday, and did the same with Nicklaus, Palmer, Raymond Floyd, and Fred Couples on the Tuesday. No wonder he won so convincingly…

Earl came to his rescue on the eve of the 1997 Masters

Tiger’s swing may have been in good shape, but his putting wasn’t. So the night before the opening round, Tiger grabbed his putter and sought out his dad for some advice. “I grabbed three balls and got into my putting posture as he lay there in bed, and asked if he saw anything. He did, and told me, ‘Your hands are too low. Lift them up. Get that little arch in your hands like you always do.’” Tiger made the changes there and then, and didn’t have a three putt all week.

One swing changed everything

Yes, he cantered to victory at the Masters two decades ago, but it’s easy to forget that people were writing him off after the front nine on Thursday. He shot 40 and “putted well to do that”. But standing on the 10th tee, Tiger recalls how he let go of any anger and started thinking about hitting one perfect shot after another at Isleworth. He pulled out a 2-iron and blistered it down the fairway. “I knew it, from that one swing on the 10th tee. This was the swing that was going to turn it around for me.” And so it proved. He ended up shooting a 29 on the back nine and signed for a 70, three shots off the lead.

The Golf Channel made an unlikely assist

We all know Augusta’s greens are notoriously tricky to read, so you can’t blame Tiger for doing his research before the 1997 Masters. Even so, the rumours that the Golf Channel helped him hole an eagle putt sounds a little unbelievable. And yet, it’s true. Faced with a 20-footer on the 15th during his second round, Tiger recalls how he watched almost the exact, same putt inside the Golf Channel’s video library in Orlando months earlier. He knew it didn’t break as much as he might have otherwise thought, and promptly holed it to take the lead for the first time!  

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Monty motivated him

Tiger always had the upper-hand during his rivalry with Colin Montgomerie and lot can be traced back to a press conference before the third round of the 1997 Masters. Tiger tells the story of how Monty said that we would see what Tiger was made of, and that his experience could be key. The comments ultimately backfired, and Tiger confesses that they gave him “extra motivation” to play his best golf.

He had decided as early as 1995 to change his swing under Butch

He may have obliterated the field by 12 shots at Augusta, but that didn’t stop Tiger from embarking on his first swing change soon afterwards. It took eighteen months to make the swing his own, and it was all born out of what he calls a search for perfection. “I wanted total control of my swing, and, hence, the ball.”

“From 2002, Augusta wasn’t as much fun to play”

It’s a damning verdict but one which is indicative of how much the course has changed in “just about every imaginable way”. The greens are now “less severe” and “the tee shots are less demanding” too. Tiger even reckons today’s players would break 60 around the course he played in 1997, thanks to the advancements in equipment.

Until 2015, Tiger would always fast-track his return from injury

Four knee and three back operations are bound to take its toll, and Tiger admits that his relentless desire to compete meant he “probably came back too early from some of the surgeries”. He acknowledges that he’s now paying the price, and confirms what we already knew that his ongoing back problems make it “difficult to swing” the way he wants. Does he regret pushing his body so hard? He claims not, and reveals that he made swing changes to improve and to compensate for his injuries. “I worked out because I enjoyed it and believed it would make me stronger mentally and physically.”

‘Compete’ remains his favourite word

For a man who only ever talks about winning, it should come as no surprise that he still hopes to “win another Green Jacket or two”. He still craves competing but the final two paragraphs, written in the past tense, infers that he’s resigned to finishing on 14 Majors. “My parents told me it was okay for me to fail, as long as I gave it everything I had. I have given it everything I have.” 

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What really happened that night on November 27, 2009…

We still don’t know. Tiger only mentions his ex-wife Elin Nordegren in the postscript, and even then he glosses over his “betrayal” in less than 50 words. He does admit that “his regret will last a lifetime” but if you were hoping for all the juicy details, you’ll be left bitterly disappointed. 

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