Pinpointing Masters moment where Tiger Woods became a legend

With the 2020 Masters, which was scheduled to begin Thursday with the opening round at Augusta National, postponed until November, The Post each day this week is reliving some of the most memorable moments coinciding with each round of the Masters.

Here’s a look at some memorable Thursday Masters moments:

Tiger goes 40-30 in ’97

On his way to making Masters history, Tiger Woods nearly shot his way out of the tournament, going out in 4-over — par 40 in his first nine holes on the Thursday opening round.

That being Woods’ first Masters as a professional (he’d played two as an amateur), it all looked like it might be too much too soon for him. After bogeys on Nos. 1, 4, 8, and 9, Woods missing the cut was a lot more realistic than him winning — let alone winning by a record 12 shots.

“I have to confess, part of you goes, ‘He’s not living up to the hype,’ ” Englishman Paul Casey recalled. “You jump straight in and say, ‘He shot 40 on the front nine, he’s never going to come back.’ That’s what makes that win more amazing.”

Everything changed at the turn. Woods, paired in that first round with defending champion Nick Faldo, figured out his swing flaw on the fly at the 10th tee. He went on to card four birdies and an eagle on the back nine en route to a 30, and he never looked back. Not just for that week, but for the next decade-plus.

“The way I analyzed it, he went out in 40, back in 30 and we didn’t see him for dust for another 14 years,” Faldo said. “That was the start of Tiger and the start of his dominance. It was a special day. You go out in 40 and then you win by 12. That’s something pretty unique.”

Woods, after that round, recalled being “pretty hot at the way I was playing” as he headed to the back nine.

“I was just playing real defensive golf, and that’s not exactly what you want to do when you’re struggling,” Woods said. “It was a tough day initially.”

Three days later, that tough day was a mere footnote as Woods finished 18-under to win his first of 15 major championships and changed the game forever.

Arnie’s Army says ‘goodbye’

No “Honorary Starter” ceremony, which has been a Thursday morning Masters tradition since 1963, was as powerfully emotional as the one in 2017. That was the first Masters since 1955 at which Arnold Palmer was not present. Palmer, a fabric of Masters lore as a four-time winner and one of the Honorary Starters since 2007, had died the previous September at age 87.

With a huge crowd enveloping the first tee, a white lawn chair sat on the tee with Palmer’s green jacket gently draped over it. His wife, Kit, was in attendance, along with the other two of the “Big Three” — Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

Billy Payne, then the chairman of Augusta National, spoke eloquently about “The King.”

“It is a wonderful but, in one respect, difficult day,” Payne said. “Arnold Palmer was my friend. He was your friend. Despite all the fame and fortune, he always had time for all of us. It still hurts so bad that he’s not here.”

Patrons wore “Arnie’s Army” buttons that were distributed at the gates to help honor Palmer. They read: “I AM A MEMBER of ARNIE’S ARMY.”

With tears in their eyes, Nicklaus and Player struck the ceremonial opening tee shots to commence the tournament — both shots coming to rest on the fairway. Nicklaus, doffed his cap and pointed to the sky when it was his turn to hit.

“The Masters did make Arnold in many ways because of his wins in ’58, ’60, ’62 and ’64,” Nicklaus said. “But in another way, Arnold made the Masters. I think Arnold put the Masters on the map. They were very good for each other.”

The Sharks hunts

Most remember the 1996 Masters for Greg Norman’s epic final-round collapse, losing a six-shot lead to winner Nick Faldo. What most don’t remember about that Masters was that Norman shot a tournament-record 63 in the Thursday opening round and looked like a runaway train.

Oddly, Norman started off slowly in his round, with pars on his first six holes. Then he birdied nine of the last 12 holes.

“It was just indicative of my style of play,” Norman said at the time. “I loved to be aggressive when I felt I was on.”

He remained “on” until the final round, which turned what had been a memorable week into a nightmare he would rather forget.

Norman’s 63 matched the 63 Nick Price shot in the third round of the 1986 Masters, which was famously won by Jack Nicklaus.

“The big thing is I would trade that round for a green jacket in a heartbeat,” Price said at the time.

So, too, would Norman.

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