Why Day, Scott were late for school in April 1997
(Augusta, GA:) Tiger Woods may have ruled himself out of this week’s Masters but it has not dampened the memory of Australia’s current top-two leading golfers of event that took place at Augusta National 20 years ago. The Queensland duo of Adam Scott and Jason Day were still in high school.
Scott was already making a name for himself having beaten Aaron Baddeley in the final of the 1997 Australian Amateur Boys Championship at Alice Springs, and would successfully defend his title a year later at Wentworth & Orange.
A 16-year-old Adam Scott could never have imagined he would some day emulate his hero Tiger Woods at Augusta (Credit: Getty Images)
He was aged 16 and Day was still seven-months shy of his 10th birthday.
It was into the early hours of Monday morning Australian time when the final round of the 1997 Masters was being beamed into the living rooms on Australia’s east coast.
Easter Sunday 1997 had fallen on March 30th so it was outside of the Easter School holidays, so Scott and Day would have been awake around 7am and preparing for a day at school.
But school was clearly not on the agenda around 4am this particular day!
“I was in my final year of high school and while I can’t remember if I eventually went to school that Monday morning, as it was Sunday afternoon in the US, who will ever forget what unfolded that afternoon at Augusta,” said Scott.
“Tiger had already influenced me, for sure, and every other young kid playing golf to the point everyone was wearing something with a ‘swoosh’ and trying to find to find a Tiger head cover.”
“So, I remember everything about that day as Tiger was the biggest news in golf for a good few years before that day in 1997. Greg (Norman) was nearing the end of his career and there was new idol not only in Australia but seemingly around the world for young kids like myself to look up to.”
Unlike Scott, Day was only just getting into golf.
“I was nine years old and I was getting into golf, I mean I played golf and I was actually in Rockhampton at the time and my mum and dad had this TV where you had to get up and turn the knob to change the channel and you had to move this bunny ears antenna to get the right picture and it was like really early in the morning,” he said.
“I remember Tiger walking up the 18th after he had obliterated the field.”
“That’s kind of one two moments where it really got me into golf in first Tiger winning the ‘97 Masters, so I started playing more golf than I usually did at that age.
“Then when I read a book about Tiger when I was 14. So, they are the two moments that really kind of changed my life with regards to my career.”
Scott’s golfing hero has always been Greg Norman but it did not stop him getting hold of VHS video of Woods’ achievements in the amateur ranks, so unlike most of us, Scott had been right up to speed with Woods’ career before that Sunday.
“My hero was always Greg and there was that kind of connection between Tiger and Greg with Butch Harmon,” said Scott.
“When Tiger had turned pro, and even though we had known about his US Amateur wins but never saw them on TV, I had some understanding of what he was achieving as I had been in the States competing in junior amateur events, so I knew what was going on at that early point in his career, and even sitting down to look at VHS tapes of what he was doing.”
“So, I had seen it all and including all those magical shots and the fist pumps long before that Sunday in April ’97.”
“And as I mentioned, every kid was then out there on a golf course trying to swing like Tiger. It was pretty amazing to see a 21-year old just thrash the field in the manner did.”
Of course, Day was excited in the manner of Woods’ domination of the 1997 Masters field but his family was struggling so much so there was no chance of a Tiger head cover.
“Back then I had second-hand clubs from Cash Converters and that was all we could afford,” said Day.
“So, I didn’t have enough money for a Tiger head cover and besides back then they didn’t have the head covers they have nowadays in the sports and golf stores.”
It took Scott a dozen years before he joined Woods as a Masters champion and as the golf world looks back this week on the events of that Sunday in April 1997, Scott reflected on how one person, a 21-year old African/American single-handedly changed the face of golf.
“I think we were all surprised one player could win by so many shots given he had shot 40 on the front nine on day one,” said Scott.
“Maybe after the manner of Tiger’s victory we should have expected it to be the dawn of a new era in golf but then it was still surprising how much he did single-handedly change the game. All of a sudden the golf he was playing was golf way outside of anyone’s comprehension.”
“It was the start of something amazing and you only have to look back at what Augusta National looked like in 1997 compared to what it now looks like 20 years later that it is a significant change, as well.”
“Then you think of the significant influence Augusta National has around the world and way we all are treated then it was Augusta who led the ‘Tiger-proofing’ of golf courses around the world.”
“It’s all very incredible and Tiger was simply incredible”.