But Woods, a senior from Western High, saved his best prep round for last, shooting a five-under-par 66 to win the Southern Section individual championship Monday at La Cumbre Golf and Country Club.
Woods broke the section final record of 67, which was shared by three, the most recent being Larry Springer of Rolling Hills in 1970.
It was the second consecutive section title for Woods and the third overall. Only two others--Long Beach Wilson's Boots Porterfield (1942-44) and Santa Monica's Mac Hunter (1945-47)--have won as many.
Woods, 18, had never seen the La Cumbre course, but said he figured it would take a low score to win because it's only 6,352 yards long.
"So I just went out and attacked the course," said Woods, who will attend Stanford in the fall.
La Cumbre didn't put up much of a fight.
Starting from the 10th tee, Woods made birdie on four of his first six holes and missed birdie putts on the other two.
After making the turn at five-under 30, he rolled in a five-footer for birdie on his 10th hole and seemed to be threatening the course record of 64.
"It was definitely within reach the way I was putting," Woods said.
By that time, he had left the rest of the field in the deep rough. He faltered on his 15th hole, the 522-yard, par-5 sixth, hitting his tee shot out of bounds. He took a double-bogey 7, but got a stroke back with a birdie on the next hole.
Woods finished four strokes ahead of Sunny Hills' Terry Noe, Anthony Marciano of Simi Valley Royal and Michael Chavez of Santa Barbara San Marcos, who each finished one-under.
The top 22 players, excluding Woods and those who already had qualified with their team, advanced to the CIF-Southern California Golf Assn. Championships, June 6 at Redlands Country Club.
Woods, who won the CIF-SCGA individual title by a record 10 strokes as a freshman in 1991, won't be playing in Redlands because he will be in Rye, N.Y., preparing for the PGA's Buick Open at Westchester Country Club.
He is passing up U.S. Open sectional qualifying, which is the same day, because the Open starts on the same day as Western's graduation ceremony.
Other than Noe, six Orange County players advanced.
Sunny Hills freshman Jin Park shot 73, finishing in a three-way tie for sixth. Jimmy Lee of Tustin and Greg Uberuaga of Huntington Beach each shot 74.
Corona del Mar's Bill Sarracino shot 75 and Ben Bost of Santa Margarita and Chris Berry of Esperanza each shot 76.
Jeff McGraw of Servite and Kevin Rodgers of Trabuco Hills shot 77s and survived a seven-way playoff for the final four spots. Ryan Donovan of Esperanza was eliminated in the playoff. El Toro's Ben Garner, Brea-Olinda's Mike Peterson and Aaron Smith of Dana Hills each missed making the playoff by one stroke.
Berry struggled most of his round but avoided the playoff by making a birdie on his final hole.
Berry, a senior who will attend Arizona, played in the foursome with Woods. He was frustrated with his play, but said the experience wasn't all bad.
"I was having fun watching Tiger play," Berry said.