After a quarterfinal win over another future PGA Tour winner, D.A. Points, the semifinals would pit Stanford teammates Woods and Joel Kribel, and Florida's Robert Floyd, the son of 1986 U.S. Open champion Raymond Floyd, and Scott. Kribel had distinguished himself as one of the country's best in 1996, winning the Pacific Northwest and Western Amateurs, yet was hidden behind Woods.
Kribel played the outward nine in the equivalent of 32, winning the first and fourth with birdies, and he stayed 2 up until the 11th, where he began to unravel. Woods won the 11th with a two-putt birdie from 60 feet, the 12th with a par and then went ahead for good with a 12-foot eagle on the 470-yard par-5 14th hole.
Scott, who beat Floyd, 3 and 2, was visibly relieved at progressing further than in '95. Prior commitments prevented him from attending the Masters this spring with Floyd and another teammate, Josh McCumber, and now he had an invitation for '97. But he sobered up when it came to Woods and the even larger crowd expected for Sunday.
"I hope the gallery will clap at good shots," he said. "Everyone is going to want to see him win three in a row. If he does, he does."
The crowd at the first tee at 7:15 a.m. lined the hole, tee to green, and was greater than some Amateurs drew for an entire week. The gallery gave an energetic ovation when Woods was introduced, yet Scott deserved the applause by shooting the equivalent of a 68 and going to lunch, 5 up. It was nearly as strong a performance as the first 18 Kuehne had thrown at Woods two years earlier at TPC at Sawgrass. Any other foe would have folded.
The scoreboard had Scott for six birdies (fourth, fifth, 10th, 11th, 14th and 18th); combined with Woods' bogey at the seventh, Scott won four of the par-5 holes and halved the 14th when Woods two-putted from 35 feet. In fact, Woods hit just three fairways and four greens over the first nine, shot the equivalent of a 76 and needed 32 putts.
"You figure [5 up] would be good enough, but against Tiger Woods, no lead is secure," Scott said.
Woods spent most of the luncheon break on the practice tee with Butch Harmon, his swing instructor, while Jay Brunza, his sports psychologist and the man who accompanied him on that dusk visit to Waverley, stood on deck. Woods's rhythm, so often a problem early in a round, was again out of whack.
After his lunch Scott moved to the tee and promptly glanced his first half-wedge shot off the flagstick. The crowd, reading tea leaves, was mistaken. It was Woods who came out blazing. He had not missed a green in regulation in the morning's second nine, and when he found the rough at the 19th with a wedge approach, it was the last green he would miss in the final 29 holes. Woods birdied the 21st (2½ feet) and 22nd (two feet), then won the 23rd with par (Scott went over the green off the tee and missed a 5-footer to save par). Suddenly the advantage was two holes.
Woods was gaining momentum, winning the 27th with an incredibly long drive and then making a 10-footer for birdie. One down. That's when Scott countered, holing a delicate, downhill, in-or-25-feet-past pitch from right of the green to a hole cut five paces from the fringe. Woods was 24 feet away, but after Scott's nearly waist-high jump in exultation, the defender weakly waved the ball toward the hole and left it for his caddie to retrieve. Two down.
Scott birdied the 29th and lost, which tells you how the last eight holes of regulation went. Woods's approach from 196 yards cleared two towering pines at the second dogleg, and he ran down the 34-footer. One down. Scott claimed the 32nd with a 15-foot eagle. Two up, four left.
Then Woods, as is his wont, really started to play. He birdied the 34th from six feet to get within a hole, only after Scott reminded him to return his ball mark to its original position after moving it out of Scott's line. It was an act of sportsmanship widely praised, for it showed Scott's prescience (many people had forgotten the original move) and enlightenment (the Amateur Public Links final had been marred by a frosty silence when the eventual winner, Tim Hogarth, lost a hole by not replacing his marker). If he failed to return the marker to its original spot, Woods would have lost the hole, the match and a third title.
With the gallery buzzing, Woods won the 35th with a downhill 30-footer that evoked the fist-pumping photos that will be the week's overriding memory. Halving the 36th with tense pars, Woods missing from 12 feet and Scott from 18 feet to win, they went back to the ninth hole for the first OT Amateur final since Nathaniel Crosby won at the 37th in 1981.
They halved the 37th, Woods on a combination pull-misread from 18 feet and Scott failing along the same line from a stride closer. On to the 194-yard 10th, where Scott had jammed home the pitch shot two hours earlier. Woods, with the honor, kept it left of the flag and was safely on. Scott's nestled into the right rough, this time on a downhill lie. His pitch rolled seven feet past ·and, after a measurement with string, Woods was deemed away; his clincher slid 18 inches past When Scott missed, Woods rolled home his winner.
Within an hour Tiger Woods, at the awards ceremony, told the gallery "that the northwest is my lucky haven." He held the Havemeyer Trophy aloft one last time, with the photographers' shutters clicking like mad, lowered it and gave it the gentlest kiss. Dusk was turning to darkness on his amateur days. Ahead lay the dawn of a new challenge.