Tim Finchem was in his second month as the newly appointed commissioner of the PGA Tour, not paying a great deal of attention to the U.S. Amateur being played down the street from his office at the TPC Sawgrass.
It was only when he arrived for the World Series of Golf at Firestone that he first came to appreciate Tiger Woods.
“I go up to Akron on the Sunday, and we give out the trophy and everything,” Finchem said. “And then I go to the locker room, and all the tour players are gathered around the television. And they're watching Tiger Woods play in the Amateur. I've never seen tour players interested in watching any other golf on a day they were finishing a tournament."
This was 1994, a few months after Woods had graduated high school and was headed to Stanford. He rallied to win the first of three straight U.S. Amateurs that day.
“It was amazing to me that this kid generated that level of focus,” Finchem said. “I mean, it was the beginning of understanding the Tiger Woods phenomenon.”
The occasion for this memory on Monday was Finchem being elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame. He will be part of the 2021 induction class that includes Woods.
Finchem was in charge of unprecedented growth during his 22 years as commissioner, and it's no coincidence that 20 of those years featured Woods.