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Play Ball

by M.G. Siegler


"He left us in the dust."

This year's Masters, which teed off yesterday, marks the 20th anniversary of Tiger Woods' historic turn. ESPN caught up with some of the other golfers who were on the course for that ride. 

Nick Faldo:

"He went out in 40 and back in 30 and then we didn't see him for the next 14 years. He left us in the dust. It was a special day. It was the way he went out in 40 and then to win by 12. That's something pretty unique. [It's like] you miss the first corner and then don't see him for dust. That's really what that week was.''

Paul Azinger:

"He was unaffected by the magnitude of what he was trying to accomplish. That's what struck me. He wants to play well way more than he is afraid of failing. There were little things in my head that I envied in him because he wasn't afraid of screwing up. Not everybody thinks that way. That's an asset. ... When people asked me about Tiger later in his career, I always said he wants it more than everybody else. That doesn't mean we don't want it. ... He's less afraid of failure than anybody I've ever seen. As a result he failed less often.''

Colin Montgomerie (at the time):

"There's more to it than hitting the ball a long way, and the pressure's mounting more and more. I've got more experience, a lot more experience, in major championships than he has. And hopefully I can prove that.''

And now:

"I'll never forget it. I outdrove him on the first. I hit the back of the bunker and it shot forward and I got him by a yard. I could have walked in. I don't think I saw him again all day. I think he was 60, 70 yards ahead of me all day. It was phenomenal to watch him. He knew it was going in and his caddie knew it was going in and I knew it was going in and everyone knew it was going in. The belief that he had that a ball was going to go in. Now Augusta is the most difficult to commit to and believe that the ball is going to go in the hole. Tiger had that belief at 21 years old. Incredible."

How insane was the performance?

Notable: Woods' 12-shot victory was the largest in any major championship going back to the 1862 Open at Prestwick, which Tom Morris Sr. won by 13 shots -- in a field that had just eight players. Woods later set the standard when he won the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by 15 strokes.

And where is Woods, who should be in the twilight of his golf prime. now? Not playing, sadly.


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