Tiger Woods won his second U.S. Amateur in 1995 to earn his second trip to Augusta National Golf Club for the 1996 Masters.
Woods played a practice round with Fred Couples, Greg Norman and Raymond Floyd and soaked in as much knowledge of the course from the three. But it was his practice round Wednesday with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer that was as good as it gets, Woods said years later.
After the three completed 18 holes, Nicklaus and Palmer extended an invitation to Woods to join them in the Par 3 Contest. Less than 15 minutes later, the three were on the first tee of the short course.
Later in his press conference, Nicklaus dropped this bombshell.
“Both Arnold and I agree that you could take my Masters (6) and his Masters (4) and add them together and this kid should win more than that,” Nicklaus said of Woods. “This kid is the most fundamentally sound golfer I’ve ever seen at any age. I don’t know if he’s ready to win yet or not, but he will be the favorite here for the next 20 years. If he isn’t, there’s something wrong.”
1996 MASTERS: Final leaderboard
Well, Woods wasn’t ready to win his first Masters that year Playing with defending champion Ben Crenshaw, Woods drove the ball well but executed poorly with his distance control into the greens. With rounds of 75-75, he missed the cut by four shots.
“I was working on the right things, but I didn’t have it in the ’96 Masters,” Woods wrote in The 1997 Masters: My Story with Lorne Rubenstein.
A year later, he certainly did have it.
This is the second story in a series looking at each of Tiger Woods’ appearances at the Masters.