Devil Ball Golf - Golf

Tiger Woods' image has taken a brutal, perhaps irreparable hit over the last few weeks. Let's take a little time to remember why we liked the guy in the first place.

Way back in August 1996, a 20-year-old kid with a peculiar name teed up his first professional shot, at the Greater Milwaukee Open. Naturally, he drove that shot 336 yards and birdied his very first pro hole.

The legend of Tiger Woods was off, sprinting out of the gate.

Woods debuted with a Nike-crafted, innocent-yet-audacious tagline: "Hello, world." He was coming off wins in the NCAA and the U.S. Amateur (three times over), and while he wasn't a stranger to the world of the PGA, he was just getting his first taste of the riches that were to come.

Nike made him the centerpiece of a golf campaign that paid Woods an estimated $40 million over five years -- or just slightly more than what he makes in a single year from Nike now. And it rolled out full-page ads in newspapers -- hey, remember those? -- and this commercial to herald his debut:

With an apocalyptic, meet-the-new-boss campaign like that, you can see why Nike is sticking by Tiger during these troubled times. They went all-in with Tiger from the word go.

Oh, and for the record, Woods shot two birdies and an eagle through his first six pro holes, and finished the tournament -7 and tied for 60th. He'd get better.

Got a particular Woods moment of triumph you recall? Write us at jay.busbee@yahoo.com and we may use it in a future column. 

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