Recalling Tiger Woods Trek at the Honors in '91 and '96

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Updated: 6/12/2013 7:10 pm

With Tiger Woods set to tee off Thursday at the U.S. Open, we decided to look back at his two stops at the Honors Course in Ooltewah. They were the '91 U.S. Amateur, and the '96 NCAA Championship. Sam Woolwine, who chaired that NCAA tournament, and SportTalk host Gary Haskew, help tell the story.

The first ever U.S. Amateur Tiger Woods played in was at the Honors in 1991. But the 15-year-old phenom missed the cut for match play. Said Tiger during an interview in August of 1991,"I was telling my caddie, my brother, that I hope the gallery gets bigger, and it didn't. I'm really not that famous yet. If I can get on Tour and do well, then I will probably open some eyes."

Tiger was pretty famous when he returned to the Honors in 1996 with the Stanford golf team for the NCAA Championship, and he brought a bigger gallery. Said Woolwine,"We ended up setting a record, an (NCAA) spectator record for the four days."

Tiger's amateur resume had everything by '96, except an NCAA title. Said Tiger in '96,"It's one of those tournaments that a lot of great players have won, and I would like to win as well." Said Haskew,"It was clear that he had an aura about him that nobody else had. When you watched him play, you knew he had it, and you knew he was going to be a great player. You could sense it."

The nation's top amateur was ready to tackle one of the nation's most difficult courses. Said Woolwine,"At one time, the Honors was maybe the second toughest golf course in the country. It had a rating of 156. There was only one other course in the country that had a rating higher than that."

But the Honors wasn't too hard for Tiger. Said Haskew,"He just slayed the field. Good night alive. He slayed them."

First day Tiger shot a 69. Second day he shot a course record 67. Third day, another 69. Said Haskew,"Nobody took apart the Honors like he did."

Everyone enjoyed Tiger's performance, expect for maybe a few Honors members. Said Haskew,"I head a comment by one of the Honors members. He's still there today. It wasn't Mr. (Jack) Lupton either. He said he can't do that to this golf course. It's too hard." Said Tiger,"Some of the pin locations can be really tricked up. If they get the green speed up, this course can play really hard."

Apparently tricked up pins were the case on the final day. Said Woolwine,"In fact, the next day, if I'm not mistaken, nobody shot in the 60's."

Tiger shot an 80 in the fourth round. And yet, he still won by four shots. Reporter-"How many golf tournaments can a guy win when in the last round he shoots an 80?" Said Haskew,"Never been done before or since I bet. Not in major play."

Tiger finished at three-under, the only golfer under-par. Said Tiger after his win,"I'm exhausted because I dug down so deep inside me to do what I did."

Woolwine drove Tiger back to his hotel after his victory. Reporter-"Didn't know if he (Tiger) said I enjoyed it." Said Woolwine, "He shot 80 remember. (laughter) He wasn't going to say I enjoyed it." (laughter)

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