5 Worthy Facts From Tiger Woods’ Professional Debut That Every Golf Fan Needs to Know

Published 08/25/2021, 9:17 AM EDT
ST LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 11: Tiger Woods of the United States stands on the 15th hole during the third round of the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club on August 11, 2018 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)


Tiger Woods turned pro in 1996 and changed golf forever. He took the game into his grasp and dominated it like no other. When Woods turned pro, he vowed to revolutionalize it and has lived up to his word. August 29, 2021, will mark the 25th anniversary of Woods’ professional debut at the Greater Milwaukee Open, and here are five noteworthy facts from the tournament that will entice any reader. 

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The Greater Milwaukee Open holds the honor of hosting the great Tiger Woods on his professional debut. Woods was only 20 years old back then, but he clearly did not show any nerves, even if he felt them inside. 

How did Tiger Woods perform in his professional debut? 

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Tiger Woods was 20 years old when he debuted at the Greater Milwaukee Open played at the Brown Deer Park Golf Course. Woods impressed right away and made the 36-hole cut at the event. It was not an easy task to do as Woods already had massive pressure on his shoulders playing in his first professional tournament. 

Woods has gained so much fan following as an amateur that he had a massive fan following during his pro debut. That kind of pressure on a 20-year-old was not normal and he knew it. 

The greater part is that Tiger Woods lived up to the hype. The then 20YO delivered two fantastic rounds and made the cut at the Greater Milwaukee Open. He shot a 67 and 69 in his first two rounds and carded a score of 7-under for the tournament. 

This effort earned him a T60 finish. 

Blast from the past: Facts from Woods’ debut week 

Golf Digest produced an article that contained amusing/extraordinary facts from Tiger Woods’ first professional golf tournament. It was a celebration unlike any other, as Woods had already signed a deal with Nike even before his first tee shot at a pro tournament. 

1. Tiger Woods traveled through commercial airlines to play all his amateur events and was not too happy about it. “I’m never flying coach again,” Woods said to his father Earl during their flight to the 1996 U.S. Amateur Championship. And right after that, his words turned true. A day after his victory in Portland, Woods had a corporate jet waiting to take him to Milwaukee for his first professional tournament. 

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2. Despite signing a $40M contract with Nike before turning pro, Tiger Woods was penniless at the Greater Milwaukee Open. He did not have the $100 entry fee he was supposed to pay and took a loan from his swing coach Butch Harmon. 

3. When Woods was at the Greater Milwaukee Open, Nike had sent him several bags of shirts and pants. Furthermore, they filled up his locker room with Titleist golf gloves and dozens of golf balls. Tiger’s swing coach recalled the moment and said: “He was like a 10-year-old dropped into the middle of Toys ‘R’ Us.”

4. Tiger Woods was initially to announce his decision to turn pro at Niketown in Chicago. Woods’ management company conceived the idea but later scrapped it. Following that, he released a statement on August 27 1996 that he’s turning pro and held a “Hello World” press conference the subsequent day. 

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5. During Tiger’s first tee shot, the announcer mistakenly informed Woods’ hometown as Orlando, Florida. The 20-year-old responded later by saying “No, I don’t have a house there yet. I’m trying to get out of California state income taxes. I’ve always wanted to live in Florida.” And now he does. 

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Arjun Athreya

2106 articles

Arjun Athreya is a senior writer at Essentially Sports and has been contributing since early 2020. Having developed an avid interest in sports at an early age, he pursued a Journalism degree and graduated from Madras Christian College. Arjun manages the Golf division and its content, and primarily covers news pertaining to the NBA as well.

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