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Four Days That Changed Golf

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Tiger Woods was not supposed to win the 1997 Masters, but when he did, by 12 strokes — one of 20 Masters records he set in that tournament — he remade the game and catapulted himself to stardom.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember on the 25th anniversary of Tiger Woods’s seismic victory at the 1997 Masters, the first of his 15 major championships, is that almost no one saw it coming.

Yes, Woods, then 21, had won three PGA Tour events, and there was avid interest in his first major as a professional. But one year earlier, as an amateur, he had missed the Masters cut. In 1995, he tied for 41st. It was accepted wisdom that grasping the intricate nuances of Augusta National Golf Club would take years. Woods, it was said repeatedly by the tour’s elders, would have to wait.

“That’s how I felt,” Paul Azinger, a 14-year tour veteran in 1997 and the winner of the 1993 P.G.A. Championship, said in an interview last month. “It’s harder than it looks.”

Azinger felt differently after he was paired with Woods in the second round. For the first time, he watched Woods hit a ball with a driver. Azinger, now 62, had never seen a golf shot hang in the air for so long as it rocketed away from the tee.

“I can still see that white ball framed against the dark trees in the distance, then the blue sky and then the green fairway — it was a bullet that seemed to never stop,” Azinger, now an NBC golf analyst, said.

The four days of the 1997 Masters would turn out to be a profound experience for those of us fortunate to be on the grounds at Augusta National, and for 44 million people who watched on television. It set records and broke cultural ground, as Woods became the first nonwhite athlete to win golf’s most tradition-bound event. It permanently reshaped almost every aspect of the game, how it would be broadcast and who might watch, and it was the first globally prominent chapter in the life of a young Black man with a catchy nickname who would soon become one of the most famous and most popular people in the world.

Although many remember vividly the moment that Woods won — the 4-foot putt and his full-body fist pump — not everyone recalls that his week began inauspiciously.

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Credit…Augusta National Golf Club

During his first nine holes on Thursday, Woods very nearly played his way out of the tournament. He shot a four-over-par 40 with four bogeys and no birdies. I realized it was possible for him to win, but it seemed unlikely. It was Augusta National. It takes time. Almost every enduring, top golfer from the last 60 years — Palmer, Nicklaus, Faldo, etc. — did not win the tournament until his fourth try. Most won in their fifth or sixth. And they weren’t 21, either.

But when Woods then shot 30 on the back nine — and was calm in the news conference afterward, as if he had expected it — that’s when I knew he would be contending on Sunday.

NICK FALDO (defending Masters champion, paired in the first round with Woods) We both made a mess on the front nine; just knocking it all over the place. I had won six majors so maybe people gave me a little slack, but for Tiger, I’m sure a lot of people were probably thinking, “Well, he’s still a little in over his head, isn’t he?”

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TOM KITE (finished second) The Tiger curiosity was very high so I have no doubt a lot of guys in the field heard about that opening 40.

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Tiger Woods teeing off on No. 18 in the first round of the 1997 Masters. He shot 30 on the back nine.
Credit…Steve Munday/Allsport via Getty Images
Tiger Woods teeing off on No. 18 in the first round of the 1997 Masters. He shot 30 on the back nine.

TOMMY BENNETT (one of many Black caddies picked by the club from the nearby Sand Hills neighborhood) Somebody told me Tiger shot 40, and I said, “Doesn’t matter, man, he’s not worried.” That kid was raised to be fearless. When I caddied for him in ’95 [at the Masters] he only put three balls in his bag and told me he wouldn’t need any more. And he didn’t. I knew he’d come back.

FALDO Tiger birdied the 10th and chipped in for birdie on the 12th hole. That shot was basically the beginning of the rest of his career.

JEFF SLUMAN (tied for seventh) The chip from behind the 12th green was incredibly difficult. Everybody watching was saying, “He’s got to be careful not to pitch that back into Rae’s Creek and make double bogey.” And bang! He puts it in the hole. Are you kidding?

FALDO The crowds around us started getting bigger and bigger and louder and louder. He seemed to feed off that. It was the beginning of Tiger mania, right? I looked around and realized that this is really something to remember.

Woods would birdie the par-5 13th and eagle the par-5 15th — for the tournament he would be 13 under on the par 5s — then added another birdie on the 17th hole. He finished at two-under-par 70, one of only seven golfers in the field of 86 to break par that day. Woods celebrated by heading to the drive-through of the Arby’s on Washington Road just beyond the club’s ornate front gate. He had two of his Stanford college buddies in the car. After they wolfed down roast beef sandwiches at the house rented with Woods’s parents, Earl and Kultida, they played basketball in the driveway and table tennis in the basement.

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Credit…Augusta National Golf Club

KITE The conditions had been so hard the first day — windy with very firm greens — you bet 70 was a good score. People noticed.

AZINGER I suddenly realized how many people were following us and how much pressure he was already under.

LEE WESTWOOD (playing in his first Masters) It was obvious how strong he was mentally, and his age did not matter.

AZINGER We get to the 13th hole on the back nine and he’s now four under par for the tournament, which is not too shabby. Then Tiger goes eagle-birdie-birdie on 13, 14 and 15.

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JIM NANTZ (longtime CBS Masters host) Tiger made the putt for eagle on 13 and I looked at my watch thinking this might be a historic moment. I said, “Let the record show that a little after 5:30 on this Friday, April the 11th, Tiger takes the lead for the very first time at the Masters.”

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Woods and Paul Azinger waiting to tee off on the eighth hole in the second round.
Credit…Amy Sancetta/Associated Press
Woods and Paul Azinger waiting to tee off on the eighth hole in the second round.

AZINGER Tiger was hitting a wedge or 9-iron to the greens on the back nine par 5s while some guys were hitting 3-woods there. Tiger looked like he wasn’t more than 155 pounds and his swing was so fierce I worried for his back even then, but my goodness, every shot had such integrity. As pros, we know it when we see it.

JUSTIN LEONARD (1997 British Open champion) We were trying to beat this guy, but I knew I couldn’t drive it as far, I didn’t hit my irons as well, I didn’t have his short game and I didn’t putt as well. You knew you were going to be able to watch history, but you weren’t going to be making any history yourself.

At the midpoint of the tournament, Colin Montgomerie, a sometimes crusty Scot who at 33 had competed in 22 majors and finished in the top 10 five times, trailed Woods by three strokes. In a packed news conference after the second round, Montgomerie said of Woods, “The pressure is mounting, and I have a lot more experience in major championships than he has.”

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Credit…Augusta National Golf Club

Before Woods’s third round on Saturday began — he was in the final grouping, the prime TV spot, with Montgomerie — Butch Harmon, Woods’s coach, put his arm around his pupil and said, “Let’s go show Colin Montgomerie who you really are.”

Woods responded, “Oh, don’t worry.”

LEONARD I would have said the same thing as Colin. As professional golfers you have to try to draw on experience if you have it, and Colin had the experience — with some successBut at the end of the day it didn’t matter at all.

Woods, in a 2007 interview on the 10th anniversary of his 1997 victory, said: “Colin’s comment did motivate me. Maybe if he had already won a major I might have let it go, but since he had not, I figured we were pretty even going into that round.”

BERNHARD LANGER (1985 and 1993 Masters champion) I had played in Thailand with Tiger when he was an amateur and it was clear as day that this was going to be a different kind of rookie on tour. In the third round Saturday he shot 65, right? Seven birdies? It doesn’t sound like he was very nervous to me.

SLUMAN He wasn’t afraid of anything. The bigger the stage the better for him. I made a comment when I was in pretty good position on the leaderboard that maybe all the guys on tour should take up a collection and offer to send him to grad school or something.

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By the third round, Colin Montgomerie knew he had no chance to overtake Woods, and he wasn’t happy about it.
Credit…Augusta National/Getty Images
By the third round, Colin Montgomerie knew he had no chance to overtake Woods, and he wasn’t happy about it.

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MONTGOMERIE (after he shot 74 to Woods’s bogey-free 65) All I have to say is one brief comment today. There’s no chance humanly possible that Tiger is going to lose this tournament. No way.

When a reporter recalled that Greg Norman in 1996 had lost a six-stroke, final-round lead to Faldo, Montgomerie snorted: “Faldo’s not lying second, for a start. And Greg Norman’s not Tiger Woods.”

As they had since the tournament started, Woods and his college buddies went to Arby’s. Then they played basketball and table tennis.

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Credit…Augusta National Golf Club

Late the next morning, Woods donned what would become his trademark Sunday colors: a blood red sweater and black pants. Before he left for the course, Woods ascended the stairs and entered the bedroom of his father, Earl, who had recently undergone surgery for his ailing heart.

“Son,” Earl said when he saw Tiger, “this is probably going to be one of the toughest rounds you’ve ever had to play in your life.”

The day carried a weight, and when Woods arrived at the course, a visitor found him. It was Lee Elder, the first Black golfer to play the Masters, in 1975. Elder got a speeding ticket on the drive to Augusta. An honorary starter at the 2021 Masters seven months before he died, Elder told reporters in 1997: “Nothing was going to stop me from getting here. I made history here, and I came here today to see more history made. After today, no one will turn their head when a Black man walks to the first tee.”

Henry Ashley, the headwaiter at Augusta National and one of about 20 Black club employees who lined the plantation-style clubhouse balcony to catch a glimpse of Woods on the first tee, told The Greensboro News and Record: “Tiger’s the man, period. He’s your man; he’s my man.”

After Woods thundered a tee shot toward the first fairway, the congregation of club employees remained on the balcony to watch him walk onto the course. As Woods disappeared over a distant hill, the employees, one by one, turned and walked through a single thin door frame to continue their clubhouse duties.

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Woods, teeing off on No. 3 in the final round, had captivated the gallery.
Credit…Steve Munday/Allsport via Getty Images
Woods, teeing off on No. 3 in the final round, had captivated the gallery.

LANGER I don’t know all about American history. But there were a lot of scenes like that in 1997. You know, seeing Tiger win the Masters, I think, in effect, said, “You can do what I’m doing.” I’m convinced it had an impact on future generations that were not white.

COSTANTINO ROCCA (accompanied Woods on Sunday) The mood was festive, like a celebration or a big party. I’m not sure the crowd even knew there was a little Italian guy playing with him. The atmosphere was powerful.

KITE Because the final round of the Masters has seen many historic collapses, nobody was conceding Tiger the title — even if he would have had to collapse like crazy to be caught. But there was still a wait-and-see attitude.

ROCCA I did cut his lead by a stroke after the first seven holes when Tiger made a couple bogeys. Then he hit his tee shot on No. 8 into the trees and I thought maybe there’s some chance. What if I make birdie and he makes double bogey? Instead, I made par and he made birdie.

KITE It was case closed.

SLUMAN From there, a coronation.

NANTZ I talked briefly to Lee [Elder]. There was emotion in his eyes. And fatigue.

ROCCA (tied for fifth) On the last nine holes, the crowd was getting crazier and crazier, and at one point Tiger turned to me and asked if I was OK. He’s a nice guy, and I was proud of him.

NANTZ I kept thinking about how much this moment meant to so many people. It transcended the sport, and seeing Lee Elder was a visual cue to me.

As Woods, his baggy pants flapping in the wind, sank a last putt to set 20 Masters records, including youngest winner and largest margin of victory (12 strokes), Nantz said, “There it is, a win for the ages.”

Boxing & UFC

Stylish or vulgar? With fluorescent interior, Floyd Mayweather rides around in an almost $8 million Rolls-Royce

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Boxing legend  Floyd Mayweather Jr. appeared this week sporting a new “toy”. On Instagram, he posted a video of the latest addition to his luxury car collection: a Rolls-Royce Cullinan. The vehicle, which is worth from $ 1.7 million in the U.S. market, has a completely customized interior.

With steering wheel, seats and part of the dashboard in a lime green color, Mayweather’s black SUV also features a “starry” roof. For the registration, the 45-year-old boxer wore an outfit to match the car’s style.

The customization was ordered by the former athlete from the Champion Motoring dealership in California. On social networks, the company had already published images of the car, but without “giving away” who would be the owner.

The Cullinan has a 6.75-liter V12 engine that generates 543 horsepower and 86.6 kgfm of torque. According to the portal ‘Auto Evolution’, the model can reach 100 km/h in 5.2 seconds and has a top speed electronically limited to 249 km/h. This is the sixth Rolls-Royce of Mayweather, who already had another Cullinan in his collection.

The legendary boxer has always been a supercar aficionado and says he owns more than 100 of them.

During his career in the ring, the boxer earned the nickname ‘Money’ for being the highest paid athlete in the world. The former boxer was only overtaken in 2016 by Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Boxing & UFC

Adrien Broner challenges Floyd Mayweather, his mentor: “We’d make $100 million each”

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Despite being officially retired for several years now, Floyd Mayweather Jr. remains a coveted name on any billboard. In addition, “Money” continues to be active by appearing in different exhibition fights.

In fact, he already confirmed to the FightHype portal: “I have three more exhibitions this year, it could be one fight and two exhibitions”.

And he added: “But guess what, the best thing is that, at least, I’m talking about $200 million”.

In this interview, “Money” stated that he is willing to put his illustrious 50-0 record on the line. So as he prepares for his September fight against MMA star Mikuru Asakura, he is also said to be negotiating a rematch against 34-year-old UFC fighter Conor McGregor.

Adrien Broner enters the Floyd Mayweather fight conversation.

Also weighing in on the conversation was Adrien Broner, Mayweather’s pupil and considered one of the top 10 fighters in the super lightweight division, according to The Ring magazine.

He thinks a “pupil vs. master” fight would be a big box office magnet with an estimated purse of $100 million each.

In an interview with Cigar Talk, Broner came clean: “If I were Floyd, I’d know I’d never have to fight again.”

“That exhibition, me being his little brother, would give us a lot. Hey, little brother (Mayweather), we’re going 10 rounds and we’re both going to generate over $100 million for that. We’ll never have to box again,” Adrien Broner said.

In addition, “The Problem” noted, “It’s time for everyone to get what’s coming to them. He’ll never have to box again. That’s what I would have done, because that’s what I should do. I don’t know if Floyd wants to see me with that kind of money.”

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He even said he is willing to comply with any of the requirements Mayweather requests to give people this opportunity to see him again in a professional fight. However, he doesn’t know if the proposal is attractive enough to convince him:

At the end of the day, I don’t know what his feelings are towards me. I don’t know how he feels. I can’t say anything. I just, I don’t know why that fight doesn’t happen. It would be the biggest moneymaker of his career,” Broner said.

Finally, “The Problem” noted, “I love Jake Paul, as well as Logan Paul. I love what they do for this sport. All I’m saying, I have a fight in three weeks. If Floyd calls me to fight him, I’ll cancel it.

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Formula 1

Floyd Mayweather Smashes $3 Billion Earnings Figure, Leaving Behind LeBron James and Michael Jordan

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Floyd Mayweather is among the wealthiest athletes of all time. Several times, the Forbes list (2012, 2014, 2015, and 2018) announced Mayweather to be the world’s highest-paid athlete. Additionally, In a year-old interview, ‘Money’ had revealed he was worth over a billion. Now, in a recent update, it has been claimed that Floyd Mayweather earned a total of three billion dollars.

In a recent assessment of Floyd Mayweather’s PPV sales, it has been found that Money, in his lifetime, has gathered an amount as big as three billion dollars.

A year back when Mayweather revealed he crossed 1.2 billion dollar, he was asked how he reached that point. Mayweather had said, “I mean, the first thing is belief. I mean, I tell everybody in this room if you don’t… You got to believe first. If you don’t believe first, then you ain’t gonna never trust. You ain’t gonna never get to where you’re trying to get to. I believe I knew from the beginning I was the best in boxing from day one.” 

Here is how Floyd Mayweather became the first three-billion-dollar man in the U.S. surpassing the likes of LeBron James and Michael Jordan.

The insane pay-per-view sales of Floyd Mayweather

Combining all the money Floyd Mayweather made from all the PPV sales we have the enormous figure of $3billion. These PPV sales that we take into consideration include his fights against the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Canelo Alvarez, Marcos Maidana, Manny Pacquiao, Andre Berto, and ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor.

When Mayweather squared off with Golden Boy De La Hoya, it generated a PPV sale of 2.4 million. The fight against Canelo Alvarez on Sep 14, 2013 captured a PPV sale of 2.2 million. With Marcos Maidana, the numbers went down by a significant margin. The first fight against the Argentine generated only 900k, and the rematch, 925k total. However, the fights against Manny Pacquiao and Conor McGregor witnessed an unparalleled growth. With Pacquiao, it was 4.6million and with McGregor, $4.3million PPV buys respectively.

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Formula 1

Red Bull snap up F1 legend’s son in their bid to find the next Max Verstappen

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Red Bull have signed up Formula One legend Juan Pablo Montoya’s son in their bid to find their next Max Verstappen, according to reports. Sebastian Montoya has joined the Red Bull Athletes roster as he plots a career in motorsport.

The younger Montoya was previously part of the Ferrari Driver Academy. He received support from Ferrari while he was karting for a year in 2018.

Looking to follow in the footsteps of his father and former Williams and McLaren driver Juan Pablo, the 17-year-old started 2022 in good form. He recorded two wins for Mumbai Falcons in the Winter Championship Formula Regional Asia. Montoya Jnr is 10th in his rookie season in the Formula Regional European Championship, in which he is driving for Prema.

And Red Bull have now snapped up the teenager as they seek to find the gems of the sport’s next generations. His move does not mean he is part of the Red Bull Junior team, but he can receive sponsorship.

That is according to F1 Feeder Series, who point out that Montoya posted a picture to his Instagram clad in Red Bull gear. His caption read: “Don’t know about you but I love my new helmet. News for today, I am a Red Bull Athlete. Thanks Red Bull for the support!”

Montoya will have hopes of one day lining up alongside Verstappen, who is also the son of a former F1 racer – Jos Verstappen. Red Bull have enjoyed an excellent 2022 season in F1, building on Verstappen’s controversial Drivers’ Championship victory last year. The Dutchman leads the championship by 63 points just beyond the midway point of the campaign.

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Verstappen benefited from Charles Leclerc’s crash to win the French Grand Prix last Sunday. It was his seventh race victory of the season and means his rivals have plenty of work to do in their bid to catch the reigning champion in the final 10 races.

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Formula 1

Toto Wolff raises ‘brain damage’ fears for F1 drivers after Lewis Hamilton complaints

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Toto Wolff has called on the FIA to make more changes to address porpoising concerns to stop drivers from suffering brain damage. He claims drivers could suffer due to the intensity of the bouncing seen at several tracks this season.

It comes after Lewis Hamilton was seen clutching his back in pain when stepping out of the car at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Wolff said: “I still believe that the FIA and all of us must do something about it.

“Frequencies of 1 to 1 hertz that last for a few minutes can cause brain damage. We have 6 to 7 hertz for several hours.” However, Mercedes rivals have hit back at Wolff’s push, claiming the porpoising issues have not been as bad in recent races.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner claimed he “didn’t see any issues” at the French Grand Prix or over the past three or four races. He blasted the FIA for getting involved in the debate, stressing it was not their duty to ensure Mercedes were still competitive.

However, Wolff rejected his rivals and denied that more help is needed to address the problem. He explained: “That (argument) doesn’t count because Silverstone, Paul Ricard and Austria aren’t exactly tracks we bounce that much on anyway.

“I don’t want to come to Spa or some of the later races where the track isn’t as smooth as a conventional racetrack and we didn’t do anything about it. There is all this talk about lobbying in both directions, but what are we talking about here anyway?”

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The FIA will bring into force new rules to address porpoising concerns at the Belgian Grand Prix with a new minimum oscillation test. The governing body are also expected to raise the floors by a minimum of 25mm for next season’s regulations to help counter the issue.

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