The choice--between Stanford and Nevada Las Vegas--would seem to be simple, but Eldrick (Tiger) Woods still agonized over it.
Woods, a Western High honors student who happens to be one of the best junior golfers in the nation, made such a strong effort to keep an open mind that he says the pressure made him physically ill. So it was with relief Wednesday that Woods announced he will attend Stanford.
"Now I can tell people where I'm going to college," Woods said.
Stanford, which received Woods' letter of intent by fax Wednesday morning, is getting the most successful junior golfer in history. Woods, 17, of Cypress, has won the last three USGA Junior Championships, an event that previously hadn't been won consecutively, a record six Junior World titles and countless other junior events.
In 1992, Woods received a sponsor's exemption and played in the Los Angeles Open--becoming at 16 one of the youngest to play in a PGA Tour event. Last year, he played in three PGA events, and he plans to continue playing in them while attending Stanford, his schedule permitting.
In high school competition, Woods won the Southern Section individual championship and the CIF-Southern California Golf Assn. title as a freshman in 1991. He won another Southern Section title in 1993, but has skipped the CIF-SCGA tournament the last two years in favor of U.S. Open qualifying.
Woods said he believed he would improve as a golfer at either UNLV or Stanford, but that the campus atmosphere in Las Vegas doesn't fit his personality.
"It came down to what school I would become a better person at," said Woods, flanked by his parents, Earl and Kultida, in the Western gymnasium. "I figured, 'What's more important, school or golf?' My entire life has always been school first, golf second, so why change now?"
Woods, whose GPA is better than 3.7, will major in economics at Stanford. Because the school doesn't have an undergraduate business program and Woods wants to study accounting, arrangements are being made.
"The dean, the athletic director and the business director said, 'We'll work with you. We'll create you a major, " Woods said. "I said, 'OK.' "
The Cardinal has won two tournaments this season and is ranked ninth in the nation by Golf Week. UNLV, top-ranked for part of this season, is fifth.
Woods was drawn to Las Vegas because of a friendly relationship with the coach, the plentiful golf courses and seemingly endless days of sunshine.
"Las Vegas has something like 311 days of sunshine a year," he said. "But playing on the tour you don't always get sunshine. You need to play in rain and bad weather, and that had something to do with the decision also."