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Posted February 24, 2017, 3:32 pm

Tiger Woods: Looking Back at 1997

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    Tiger Woods: Looking Back at 1997
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    Tiger Woods set 20 Masters records and tied six others at the 1997 Masters. He also became the first black major champion. (AP/File)

  • Article Photos
    Tiger Woods: Looking Back at 1997
    Photos description

    Tiger Woods walks up the 18th fairway at Augusta National during the final round of the 1997 Masters. (AP/File)

  • Article Photos
    Tiger Woods: Looking Back at 1997
    Photos description

    1997 Masters champion Tiger Woods receives his Green Jacket from the previous year's winner Nick Faldo. (AP/File)

The 2017 Masters Tournament marks the 20th anniversary of Tiger Woods' historic 1997 win. We're looking back with exclusive content from the remarkable victory. 

It's hard to overstate the hype surrounding Tiger Woods' first Masters as a pro in 1997.

He had won three consecutive U.S. Amateurs but had foregone the automatic invitation to Augusta when he turned pro in 1996. He quickly earned a spot in the field by winning on the PGA Tour.

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Woods came in as one of the favorites, but his first major tournament as a professional didn't get off to a smooth start.

Woods played the first nine holes in 4-over-par 40, hardly the beginning he was looking for. He righted his ship with 30 on the second nine, including a chip-in birdie at No. 12 and an eagle on the 15th.

LEADERBOARD: 1997 Masters Tournament

From that point, the rout was on. Woods shot 66 and 65 the next two rounds as he overpowered Augusta National and made believers out of his critics.

Woods teed off in the final round with history for the taking. A final-round 69 gave him the lowest 72-hole score in Masters history and a 12-stroke victory, and at 21 he became the youngest winner in tournament history.

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As he walked off the 18th green, Woods gave his father, Earl, a tearful embrace.

"As my dad said Saturday night, 'Son, this will probably be one of your toughest rounds of golf you've ever had to play in your life. Just go out there and be yourself, and it will be one of the most rewarding rounds you've ever played in your life,'" Woods said. "He was right, because I had to deal with a lot of different thoughts and emotions that were going through my head."

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Woods was the first black major champion. In a locale where traditions mean everything, it was one of the game's biggest moments.

"I sneak into the back of the winner's dinner. (Woods) comes in the room and members give him nice applause," writer Rick Reilly said. "And then in the back, all the cooks, busboys, waiters. They're all black. They took off their gloves and gave him a standing ovation. That moment still gives me chills."

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Woods would go on to win three more Masters, including in 2001 to cap four major championships in a row. He successfully defended his title the following year, and in 2005 he joined Arnold Palmer as a four-time champion with a sudden-death playoff victory.

He might have had more success at the Masters in the 2000s, but the Woods era began in 1997. He set 20 Masters records and tied six others.

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"I've never played an entire tournament with my A-game," Woods said. "This was pretty close."

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