When and Where Was Tiger Woods' Pro Debut?

Tiger Woods left the ranks of amateur golfers and turned professional way back in 1996. But do you know exactly where he made his pro debut, and how he fared in that tournament?

Woods' professional debut happened on August 29, 1996, when he teed off in the first round of the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open on the PGA Tour. The tournament was played at Brown Deer Park Golf Course in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, suburb of Glendale. And where did he finish? He finished in a tie for 60th place. But although his finish wasn't high, Woods definitely gave fans a thrill (and a peek into his future of thrilling moments) by make a hole-in-one during the tournament.

Tiger's Road to His Pro Debut

How did Tiger Woods get to the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open? On Sunday, Aug. 25, 1996, Woods won the U.S. Amateur Championship for the third consecutive time (the first ever to do that). At 20 years old, he decided it was time to go pro.

Woods accepted a sponsor invitation to play in the Greater Milwaukee Open on the PGA Tour. Two days later, on the Tuesday before the Thursday first round of the tournament, Woods announced via press release he was turning pro.

The following day — one day prior to the tournament's opening round — Woods held a press conference to discuss his decision to turn pro. That press conference was absolutely packed with not just golf media, but national news outlets, because Woods' pro debut was the most anticipated ... probably ever. He opened that press conference by saying, "Hello, world."

But here's a fun fact: Even though Woods had just signed endorsement deals worth around $40 million, he had to borrow the $100 entry fee for the Greater Milwaukee Open from instructor Butch Harmon.

How Tiger Fared in His First Tournament As a Pro

We've already mentioned that Woods finished 60th in his professional debut at the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open. Let's look now at his scores in each round of that tournament, his first as a pro golfer.

In Round 1 Woods posted the score of 4-under 67, so his professional career got off to a pretty good start. But, for comparison's sake, that same day a journeyman PGA Tour pro named Nolan Henke shot 62. Woods was already five strokes off the lead.

What was the first shot Woods ever played as a pro golfer on the PGA Tour? A 336-yard drive that found the fairway on the first hole.

In Round 2, Woods shot 69 to stand at 6-under 136, eight strokes behind the leaders. But he did make the cut.

A third-round 73 was his worst score of the tournament, and he finished with a 68 in the final round. Woods' total score was 7-under 277, tied for 60th place. That was 12 strokes behind the winner, Loren Roberts (who beat Jerry Kelly in a playoff).

This is how Woods summed up his pro debut once it was over:

"Over all, I think the week was a lot of fun. With all that happened, turning pro, all the other things, I felt I was able to play pretty good. I just couldn't make any putts."

Woods Did Make an Ace in His Pro Debut

So Tiger Woods didn't win his first pro tournament, which would have been a storyline straight out of central casting. But he did something spectacular nonetheless: He made a hole-in-one. It happened in the final round. Woods used a 6-iron to ace the par-3 14th hole from 188 yards.

Said Woods: "I told my caddie, 'I guess since I can't make anything on the greens I might as well hole something from off them.'"

It was one of (so far) just three aces Woods has made in his PGA Tour career.

How Much Money Did Woods Make in His Pro Debut?

Woods' first paycheck as a professional was for $2,544. A humble start for a man who went on to become golf's first billion-dollar earner. But, then, Jack Nicklaus only earned $33.33 in his pro debut back in 1962.

Success Came Quickly After Woods' Pro Debut

Summing up Tiger Woods' first tournament as a professional golfer: He finished 60th, at 7-under 277, in the 1996 PGA Tour Greater Milwaukee Open, earning $2,544.

But much greater success was just around the corner. His first Top 10 finish came two weeks later at the Quad City Classic, where he tied for fifth place. His first Top 3 finish was the following week, at the B.C. Open (tied for third).

And Woods' first win happened at the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational, which concluded on Oct. 6, 1996. Around six months later, Woods dominated the 1997 Masters. And the rest is history.

Related articles:

Popular posts from this blog

Ryder Cup Captains: The Full List