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When young Tiger Woods tamed Thai Country Club

It is hard to believe that it was on this day 24 years ago when American  Tiger Woods took Bangkok by storm and claimed the Asian Honda Classic at Thai Country Club, just outside Bangkok.

The region had rarely witnessed such a sporting occasion and the world’s media turned out in full force to cover his every move.

The young American had arrived in the Thai capital to much pomp and ceremony and at times frenzied excitement.

He had competed in Thailand once before ― as an amateur in the 1994 Johnnie Walker Classic at Blue Canyon Country Club in Phuket ― but this was the first time he was playing there as a professional.

Aged 21 years old he was accompanied by his mother, Kultida, who grew up 70 miles north of Bangkok; she proudly chaperoned him throughout the week.

He was also surrounded by tight security during the trip ― which was much needed amid wild welcoming scenes at Don Mueng airport.

Having only just turned professional the year before, he had already claimed three titles on the PGA Tour, although at this point he had not won Major.

Woods cruised to a 10-shot victory in the US$300,000 event; which also saw Australian Steve Elkington, Frank Nobilo from New Zealand and American Curtis Strange competing.

He shot rounds of 70-64-66-68 for a brilliant four-round aggregate of 20-under-par 268; Korean Mo Joong Kyung secured second place.

He treated the fans to a level of golf they had never seen before, including driving the 389-yard par-four 10th hole during the third round.

It was a stunning performance, with his helicopter rides to and from the course adding to the spectacle.

Thousands of fans chanted his name as he walked down the 18th fairway on Sunday.

After the win, Tiger said: “Winning is great, but to win here in Thailand is something special. This is like home to me.”

-“I knew my swing wasn’t working well,” added Woods. “I made some bad shots out there, but I made some key putts and that’s what wins golf tournaments.”

Woods, who earned a cheque for US$48,000, had five birdies during the final round and nearly eagled the fourth hole. He had a bogey on the 17th hole when his drive sliced into the water.

Two months later he was to go on and win the US Masters for the first time ― by the incredible margin of 12 shots ― and commence a career that would see him win 15 Majors and 82 PGA Tour titles.

But few will forget how things began for him during that unforgettable week at the Asian Honda Classic ― nearly a quarter of a century ago.


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