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3 Tiger Woods

WHEN ELDRICK (Tiger) Woods was 11 years old, he spent an entire
afternoon constructing a chart to mount over the bed in his room in
Cypress, Calif. Down the lefthand column he carefully wrote the names
of all the major golf tournaments. Then he cut a photo of Jack
Nicklaus out of a magazine and placed it at the top of another
column; below it he penciled in Nicklaus's age at the time he won
each major for the first time. Finally, Tiger wrote his own name at
the top of a third column. ''I wanted to be the youngest player ever
to win the majors,'' Tiger says, as if this were a routine aspiration
for any kid. ''Nicklaus was my hero, and I thought it would be great
to accomplish all the things he did even earlier than he accomplished
After becoming the youngest golfer ever to win the United States
Amateur last August, the 19-year-old Woods is on track to reach his
goal. This season he hopes to participate as an amateur in a
half-dozen events on the PGA Tour, including the Masters and the U.S.
Open. When he does join the Tour, Woods will most likely become its
only black member, and he will surely be its most anticipated new
face since Nicklaus himself.
As a freshman at Stanford, Woods's time on the Tour is limited
this year. He plans to remain in college for four years and get a
degree in business before turning pro. So far, college life has been
rewarding and frustrating for Woods. In the fall, he won two
collegiate tournaments and led Stanford to the No. 2 spot in the
national rankings behind Oklahoma State. Then, in December, he was
fortunate to escape harm when he was mugged at knifepoint behind his
dorm. And in January, Woods had two benign tumors removed from his
left knee. He is expected to be fully recovered by spring.
Woods has been a Tiger from birth. His father, Earl, a Green Beret
in Vietnam, named his newborn son after a fellow soldier, a fearless
South Vietnamese war hero, and it took little time for little Tiger
to begin creating his own legend. As a baby, he dragged around a
sawed-off putter instead of a rattle, and at 10 months he began
hitting golf balls in the family's garage. According to local lore,
Tiger shot a 48 over nine holes at age three. He appeared on the
television show That's Incredible at five. ''The first time I saw
Tiger hit a golf ball, I saw a kid who'd popped out of the womb as a
Magic Johnson or a Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,'' remembers Rudy Duran,
Tiger's first teaching pro. ''He had talent oozing out of his
fingertips, and you just couldn't wait until he grew up to see how
good he could be.''
It wasn't long before Tiger began dominating the junior golf
circuit, winning an unprecedented six World Junior Amateur titles. He
was the youngest ever to play in a PGA tournament in the United
States when he teed off in the Los Angeles Open at age 16. And last
August he became the youngest person and the only African-American to
win the U.S. Amateur in the 99-year history of the event. He
completed a six-shot, final-round rally with a twisting, 15-foot
birdie putt on the 17th hole -- the greatest comeback ever at the
Amateur. After the championship match, Earl bear-hugged his son and
told him, ''You have done something no black person has ever done,
and you will forever be a part of history. This is ungodly in its
For his part, Tiger prefers not to dwell on the racial barriers he
is constantly demolishing. ''I don't want to be the greatest minority
golfer ever; I want to be the greatest golfer ever,'' he says. ''I
want to be the Michael Jordan of golf.''
After the Amateur, Tiger returned home to Cypress, to his bedroom,
and found a pencil. He approached his chart and slid his finger down
to the line that read U.S. AMATEUR, then across to the column beneath
his name. There he wrote his age: 18 YEARS, 8 MONTHS. Tiger had won
the Amateur one month before Nicklaus had. The rest of the chart