by Jeff Skinner
Justin Timberlake welcomes the PGA Tour to Las Vegas this week for the Justin Timberlake Shiners Hospitals for Children Open. The Tour’s Fall Series picks up again in the city that shatters more dreams then it makes. One of those dreams that was born and survived in Las Vegas was one imagined by a twenty year old golfer trying to make enough cash to earn his tour card in his first year on tour. In 1996 a young Tiger Woods was making his fifth professional start at the Las Vegas Invitational. Tiger had come on the tour with more publicity and expectations than any golfer in history. Back in 1996 the tournament was five rounds and Woods used all of them and more to win his first professional tournament. He defeated Davis Love III in a playoff and the “Tiger Era” had officially begun.
Tiger didn’t stop there. He went on to win the Walt Disney World Classic later that season and hasn’t stopped winning since. Looking back at that first year, Woods had a magical season rarely seen by any golfer, amateur or professional.
As an amateur that season Woods was crowned the NCAA Champion and he won his third consecutive U.S. Amateur Championship. Two amateur championships and two professional victories is a career for most golfers but for Tiger it was only a warm up. Sports Illustrated thought so highly of his season that they named him their Sportsman of the Year (he also won it in 2000). In his article “The Chosen One” Gary Smith covers Tiger and his family in a revealing article where Earl Woods says that Tiger will change the world. It is the cornerstone piece that put Earl and Tiger in the spotlight forever. Earl Woods was not far off as Tiger has become his own man and has started many programs to change the world one child at a time.
It all started in 1996 at The Las Vegas Invitational.