Earning a TOUR Card

Tiger Woods backs up the hype, winning twice in 1996

If Woods’ performance at Brown Deer Park gave any indications of a needed learning curve, well, that week was the learning curve. He finished 11th at the following week’s Canadian Open, then rattled off five consecutive top-5 finishes, including victories at the Las Vegas Invitational and Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic, to play his way into the TOUR Championship and earn a fully exempt place on TOUR that he will never relinquish – as well as the unwavering respect of his peers.

When Curtis Strange interviewed Woods prior to his opening round in Milwaukee, he and his peers knew that Woods had worlds of talent – they just couldn’t be sure how it would translate to the professional game.

By the end of the fall, though, the rest of the PGA TOUR had been convinced. Woods was a force to be reckoned with, and he would be for quite some time.

As for public comparisons to the game’s previous greats? Some may have been reserved, for the most part, until Woods won the following year’s Masters by 12 shots.

Still, by the end of 1996, we knew.

“He’s the greatest talent that I’ve personally able to watch play, in the 20-some years that I’ve played golf,” Roberts said at the 1996 TOUR Championship. “He’s got unlimited potential, unlimited talent.

“I hate to say anybody’s the next Jack Nicklaus or the next Arnold Palmer … everybody’s in their own time and has their own style. I think Tiger is going to make as big an impact on golf as Arnold did.”

Bold words, to be sure. But the right ones.

Recap of Las Vegas victory
Recap of Las Vegas victory
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Recap of Disney victory
Recap of Disney victory

I think everything that has been said about him is justified.

Greg Norman, 1996

Tiger recaps his 1996 season as a pro
Tiger recaps his 1996 season as a pro

Woods recently spoke to PGATOUR.COM about why the 1996 season as a whole turned into one of his biggest career accomplishments.

The only problem I could foresee is if he had a little bit of a back problem.

Corey Pavin, 1996

An interesting quote from Pavin in 1996 as back problems have hindered Woods.

Here's a look at how Tiger's swing with the driver has changed (and stayed the same) throughout his career.

Tiger's driver through the years: 1996-2015
Tiger's driver through the years: 1996-2015

I think 1997 is going to be the Tiger Woods show.

Mark Calcavecchia, 1996

Relive the Moments Again