Tiger Woods was a golf prodigy. But even he couldn't become arguably the greatest player in the sport's history without some help.

Butch Harmon was one of those individuals who helped Woods along the way. The legendary golf coach was hired by Earl Woods in 1993 to help take a 17-year-old Tiger to the next level. The following year, Woods won his first of three straight U.S. Amateur Championships. In 1997, Woods won his first major championship at The Masters. Woods won eight majors and 40 total PGA Tour events before the two finally parted ways in 2004.

At The Masters, ThePostGame sat down with Harmon, who explained just what made a young Tiger Woods such an intense competitor.

ThePostGame: Tiger, you started with him in 1993. At least that's what the books say. Did he come to you or did you come to him?
BUTCH HARMON: His father called me. Greg Norman, who I was working with, had won The Open Championship in July. He was playing the U.S. Amateur. I think Tiger was 16 or 17 at the time. It was in Houston, where I was living, at Champions. And he lost his second or third-round match. His father called me and asked if he could bring him over to the club. I was director of golf at Lochinvar Golf Club in Houston on the weekend. I said sure, I'd heard of him, but I'd never really seen him play. And that's kinda how we got started.

TPG: You watch him play. What's your first impression of this guy?
HARMON: It's funny because I asked him various questions. You could see the natural ability, a beautiful swing. He was real thin in those days. He wasn't real strong, had a whole flippy swing. But one question I asked that I got the funniest answer, I said, "Okay, everybody has a stock shot that when the pressure's really on off the tee, they can tee it a little lower and trap it out of the heel and hit a little fade or hit a little shot with a right to left. What's your stock shot?" He said, "You know, I just hit it as hard as I can and I just go find it wherever it is." I'm thinking, "That's a little cocky you-know-what." But the more I got to know him, that was how he played when he was younger. He'd just bomb it out there and wherever it was, he'd go get it and get it on the green and make a putt. He just had so much raw, natural talent that you could see, boy, if you could harness all this talent and polish it up, it could be something special. As it turned out, he's probably the greatest player that ever lived. Jack Nicklaus is the greatest champion. Tiger Woods is the best player I've ever seen.

TPG: And you mention his father, Earl, so much documented about how he got Tiger started early. Why do you think he needed you to help adjust that?
HARMON: I think he felt that he had taken Tiger a long way and he liked the success I had with other players. I never had a problem with Earl Woods. Earl and I were both Vietnam combat veterans, so we had that bond. We got along fine. I respected the fact he was Tiger's dad and he respected the fact he wanted me to coach him. That relationship worked pretty good.

Butch Harmon, Jay Brunza, Earl Woods, Tiger Woods

TPG: When Tiger won here in '97 at The Masters, did you think he was ready? Did you expect that or were you a bit surprised?
HARMON: I thought he was ready when he got here. I was a bit surprised with the 40 on the first nine, I could tell you that, with four bogeys, no birdies, that was a little shocking. But then he came back in 30 and the rest is history. The golf course was made for him. He was such a good driver and a long driver that he could just overpower the golf course and this was before they made the changes. He overpowered the course every time he played it. And he had a phenomenal short game. It was just something you expected was going to happen. You didn't expect he was going to win by 12 after going out in 40, but it was pretty phenomenal to watch, really.

TPG: It took a lot of composure. What was the number one thing you taught him outside of golf, just as a person?
HARMON: Well, one of the things we did, especially leading up to The Masters, is I used to have him play practice rounds, even when he won the [U.S.] Amateur and he would play here as an amateur. I always had him play practice rounds. I arranged him to play with former champions. And I encouraged him, "Ask them questions about the golf course, about how they played these holes," and he knew who they all were and they were so generous to him. The thing that I loved about him was he was like a sponge. He just soaked up information. He wanted to learn as much as he could. He used to go back, when he would come to play in a major championship, he'd go back and find old VHS tapes, so he could watch the balls bounce on the greens and how would these players play it. Well, here at Augusta, he was always playing with former champions and he was asking the questions. He said he learned so much from José María Olazábal about shots around the greens and how to play them and I think that was a huge asset for him and I encouraged him to always do that. And like I said, he was a sponge. He just soaked up information. He wanted to learn everything he could learn and he wanted to learn it quickly. If you remember when he won in '97, he broke the record by 12 and he wanted to change his swing because he didn't like the fact the club was a little shut at the top and I said, "Well, we can do that, but it's gonna take a while." He said, "No, I want to do it now." I said, "Well, it's gonna put a little pressure on you this year," and he only won one tournament in '98 when we worked on changing the swing and then the rest was history -- '99, 2000, '01, '02 -- he just took off and won everything.

TPG: Of all those majors you won with him, which is the most memorable to you?
HARMON: I'd have to say the first one in '97 and I'll tell you why. I used to tell him when he was a teenager, I said you know, my dad, when he won The Masters in '48, he won by five shots, and he said it was the greatest feeling in the world walking up the 18th fairway with a five-shot lead knowing that I can't lose. I said, some day, that's gonna happen to you. And then as I stood behind the 18th green on Sunday in '97 with his mom and dad back there, and I was standing back with his agent at the time, Hughes Norton, and it was fairly dark. I still had my sunglasses on because I had tears in my eyes. I said, "Wow, I knew he was gonna walk off this fairway with a big lead. I didn't know it was gonna be 12 shots."

TPG: You're working here with Mercedes, you've worked with them before, why does that partnership fit for you?
HARMON: I'm a Mercedes guy. I've owned Mercedes for the majority of my life. I own two Mercedes. I love the quality of their company and who they are. I have the opportunity to come and speak to their people tonight, which I did last year too, which is very nice. They're just a wonderful organization. When you have a chance to work for the best in the business -- and I think Mercedes makes the best vehicles in the world -- it's great. I have the same relationship with Rolex. I work with Rolex. For me, I've been so fortunate to be able to associate myself with sponsors that are the best in the quality at what they do. And it's an honor that I have a chance to be with them.

Harmon spoke to ThePostGame in Augusta before participating on a Mercedes-Benz panel with Golf Channel analyst Mark Rolfing.

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