For most of the four tournament days—well, for all of the days until he finished early on Sunday and attention could be turned to the leaders—Woods was the headline performer, with no one a close second. All of the other galleries from the record GMO crowds on the course, added together, wouldn't have equaled the size of his. "It didn't bother me," Woods said. "I'm used to it. Besides, if you lose a ball, there are a lot of people out there to help you find it."
Losing balls was not a problem last Thursday and Friday. He was still feeding off momentum from the Amateur, and both his first-day 67 and second-day 69 could have been lower if he had made some putts. ("I think I used them up in the Amateur," he said.) His first shot as a pro, let it be noted, was a 336-yard drive straight down the middle. He later described it as his most memorable shot of the tournament.
On the third day the momentum turned to fatigue. Woods found trouble and scrambled for his 73, which effectively knocked him out of a high finish. He skipped his normal postround stop at the driving range, went back to the hotel, slept for 4� hours, ate dinner and returned to bed. He said he had feared hitting the normal letdown after the Amateur and had staved it off for the two days before it landed, hard. He was back in form for the final day, when he shot 68 and made a hole in one—the ninth of his life—on the 188-yard 14th.
"I played with him on his bad day, nothing working for him, and I was impressed," said veteran Bruce Lietzke. "You learn about somebody when he's having that kind of day. A lot of 20-year-olds would get frustrated, angry. He never lost his temper, still kept working. If he's going to be the game's next great ambassador, then the game is in good hands."
Woods's plan is to play the next six tournaments, using up his seven sponsors' exemptions in hopes of winning enough money to finish in the top 125 for the year and automatically qualify for the 1997 Tour. The figure he needs will be approximately $150,000, which means he will have to win or place second in a tournament or string together some top-10 finishes. If he fails, he hopes to earn an exemption by playing in the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament.
Since he already eats, drinks, drives, telephones and engages in most other human activities, additional endorsement deals are no doubt on the way. After finishing on Sunday, he was on his way to the next Tour stop, the Canadian Open, outside Toronto. "What would you be doing if you hadn't dropped out of Stanford and turned pro?" a reporter asked. "Would you be registering now for classes?"
"No, school doesn't start until September 25," the kid said, sneaking out for a moment. "And you don't have to register. The student body is so small that you can just go to classes, find ones you like, then sign up for them. I went 3� weeks one semester trying a lot of them before I finally registered."
Ah, but none of that now. Back to work. This new and different school was in session, and the tests had only just begun.