Tiger Woods' First PGA Tour Win: The 1996 Las Vegas Invitational

Tiger Woods speaks at the press conference after winning the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational
Tiger Woods was all smiles after winning the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational, his first victory on the PGA Tour. J.D. Cuban/Getty Images

When and where did Tiger Woods win his first PGA Tour tournament? It happened at the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational, which concluded on Oct. 6, 1996.

Woods was 20 years old at the time and it was just his fifth start in a PGA Tour event since turning pro. He was ranked 221st in the world rankings going into the tournament; he moved up to 75th after winning it. The tournament took place Oct. 2-6, played at TPC Summerlin golf course.

How Woods Won the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational

The 1996 Las Vegas Invitational was five rounds in length, 90 holes total. Woods opened with a 70, but from that point on he was on fire: Woods scored 26-under over the tournament's final 72 holes.

In the second round, Woods fired a 63. After a third-round 68, Woods moved into the Top 10. A 67 in Round 4 put Woods into a tie for seventh place, four strokes off the lead.

A final-round 64 put Woods in position to win, but Davis Love III eagled the 15th and birdied the 16th holes to tie Woods. Woods and Love finished regulation tied at 27-under 332.

Woods and Love entered a sudden-death playoff, but Love found a greenside bunker on the first extra hole and failed to get up-and-down. That gave Tiger two putts for the win, and Woods claimed his first professional victory. (Love was a 10-time PGA Tour champion at the time; he went on to win 21 career titles and earn membership in the World Golf Hall of Fame.)

The winner's paycheck was $297,000. The victory earned Woods a berth in the 1997 Masters — which he dominated to earn his first win in a major — and a two-year membership to the PGA Tour. That guaranteed that Woods wouldn't have to go through Q-School to earn tour membership. (In 2016, Woods told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he still has the giant check presented to him during the trophy presentation — it is hanging on a wall in one of Woods' offices.)

"He's not playing for the money," Love said after losing the playoff to Woods. "He thinks about winning and nothing else. I like the way he thinks. We were all trying to prolong the inevitable. We knew he was going to win. I just didn't want it to be today. Everybody better watch out: He's going to be a force."

Woods averaged 323 yards off the tee during the tournament, which was 13 yards longer than the next-longest player for the week, and nearly 40 yards longer than the field average.

You can watch highlights from Woods' victory at the 1996 LVI on YouTube.

Leading Up to Woods' First PGA Tour Win

Woods' first PGA Tour tournament after turning pro was the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open, which concluded on Sept. 1. He played in four tournaments prior to his first win, and he finished higher in each successive event:

Tournament Final Score Place
1996 Greater Milwaukee Open 277 (7-under) tied 60th
1996 Bell Canadian Open 208* (8-under) 11th
1996 Quad City Classic 272 (8-under) tied 5th
1996 B.C. Open 200* (13-under) tied 3rd

(*shortened to 54 holes by rain)

Following his win at the Las Vegas Invitational, Woods played three more PGA Tour tournaments in his rookie season: He finished third at the LaCantera Texas Open, won the Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Classic and was 21st at The Tour Championship.