How Long Did It Take Tiger Woods to Reach No. 1 After Turning Pro?

Tiger Woods in 1996, photo by Dan Perry

When did Tiger Woods first hit No. 1 in the world golf rankings? It happened less than one year after he made his debut as a professional golfer. So the answer to the question in the headline — how long did it take? — is eight months and two weeks.

Woods' pro debut happened on Sept. 1, 1996, at the Greater Milwaukee Open. He first ascended to No. 1 in the world rankings on June 15, 1997, at the age of 21.

And what, exactly, did Woods do to grab that No. 1 ranking? Well, for starters, it came a couple months after his runaway win at the 1997 Masters. He won twice in 1996 after turning pro, and had three wins in 1997 prior to June.

Woods' No. 1 ranking happened on the day the 1997 U.S. Open ended. That tournament, ironically, was one of Woods' rare luckluster performances in the period: He finished "only" tied for 19th place.

These are the tournament finishes on the PGA Tour for Woods from his debut until he first achieved the No. 1 world ranking:

  • 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open — tied for 60th place
  • 1996 Bell Canadian Open — 11th
  • 1996 Quad City Classic — tied for fifth
  • 1996 B.C. Open — tied for third
  • 1996 Las Vegas Invitational — won
  • 1996 LaCantera Texas Open — third
  • 1996 Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic — won
  • 1997 Mercedes Championship — won
  • 1997 Phoenix Open — tied for 18th
  • 1997 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am — tied for second
  • 1997 Nissan Open — tied for 20th
  • 1997 Bay Hill Invitational — tied for ninth
  • 1997 Players Championship — tied for 31st
  • 1997 Masters — won
  • 1997 GTE Byron Nelson Golf Classic — won
  • 1997 MasterCard COlonial — tied for fourth
  • 1997 Memorial Tournament — tied for 67th
  • 1997 U.S. Open — tied for 19th

Photo credit: "Tiger Woods, Las Vegas Invitational, 1996" by is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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