People Staff
December 31, 1999 12:00 PM

One day last May, Tiger Woods, 24, had a fairway epiphany. After a lackluster 1998 season in which he won only a single PGA tour event, Woods—who in 1997 became the youngest player to win the U.S. Masters title and who was celebrated as golf’s shining future—had been struggling to overhaul his swing. Then, on a practice range in Dallas, it all came together. “He called and said, ‘Butchy, I’ve finally got it,’ ” says longtime coach Butch Harmon. “He also got back his cockiness, which all great champions have.” This year, pumped up with 20 pounds more muscle on his 6’2″ frame and with his toothy grin back in place, Tiger went on a tear. He won eight PGA tournaments, the most since Johnny Miller in 1974, and polished off the season with four straight victories, equaling Ben Hogan’s run in 1953. In the process, he pocketed $6.6 million, an all-time record. “He’s got a God-given arm and body speed that is unmatched,” says Miller. “Then he matched that with man-made strength, which nobody ever combined before. He is the greatest physical specimen ever to play golf.” Voted PGA player of the year, Woods has no intention of taking his eye off the ball. The taciturn, polite Stanford alumnus makes room in his busy schedule for only two other interests. He squires around his girlfriend of a year Joanna Jagoda, 22. And at his Orlando con-do he plays video games with the same concentration he exhibits on the links. As for the future, his father—and first coach—Earl Woods, says Fore! “People had their chance to beat him when he was a skinny little kid coming out of college,” says Earl. “Now they’ll have to face a full-grown Tiger.”

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