In 1997, who became the first non-white golf player to win the Masters Tournament?
And the answer: Tiger Woods.
While Lee Elder was the first Black golfer to play at the Masters Tournament in 1975, more than two decades later, on April 13, 1997, Tiger Woods became the first non-white player to actually win the Masters (he was also the youngest player in history to win).
Tiger Woods' legacy as a unique golf prodigy remains impressive even today. Woods began swinging a golf club at the age of 1, and by 2, he was featured winning a putting contest with Bob Hope on television's "Mike Douglas Show." Yet, it didn't take long for Woods to turn from child prodigy to young legend. By 15, he had won his first U.S. Junior Amateur golf championship, making him the youngest in history to do so. By 1992 (just 16 years old at this point), Woods was given a sponsor’s exemption in order to compete in the PGA tournament, making him (again) the youngest player ever to play in such a competition.
By the time Woods signed to go professional, he had under his belt three straight consecutive wins in the U.S. Junior Amateur competition – a nearly unheard of feat. Young Woods had not only amassed trophy after trophy but a significant following as well, as the first Black player to win such titles.
Then, in 1997, Woods made history yet again. With an incredible 12 stroke lead in a record-breaking performance, Woods won the Masters title. He reached number one in the world rankings for the first time in June 1997, less than a year after turning pro. Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, Woods was the dominant force in golf. He was the top-ranked golfer in the world from August 1999 to September 2004 (264 consecutive weeks) and again from June 2005 to October 2010 (281 consecutive weeks). During this time, he won 13 of golf's major championships.
Learn more about the incredible career of golf legend Tiger Woods below.