Golf Asia


In a career of so many victories, it’s hard to rank Tiger’s finest. Still, we’re giving it a go



mong his 67 regular PGA Tour titles there were many moments of magic bordering genius – among them the 2001 Players and the head-to-head with Lefty in the 2005 Ford Championsh­ip, to name just two. But when looking at Tiger’s greatest victories, it’s impossible to see past the Majors, the ultimate benchmark for any golfer. But because not all of Tiger’s Majors are equal, let us count down a top 10 ranking – from good to great to quite unbelievab­le…

On the Old Course in 2005’s Open, Woods yet again underlined his dominance on golf’s ultimate strategic venue with a five-stroke victory over Colin Montgomeri­e. Perhaps just as significan­tly, it marked Jack Nicklaus’ final appearance in the game’s oldest event. On the course where he had twice won previously, the Golden Bear went out on a typically high note with a 15-foot birdie on the final green. That day was his, but yet again the week belonged to Woods. “If ever a course was built for him, this is it,” sighed Monty. WM 8| LOP 8| D 7| HS 6| RB 5| Total 34/50

=8 2001 MASTERS

By itself, this was just another Major victory for Woods – his fifth by this point. But his second win at Augusta National – this time by two shots from David Duval – had a much wider significan­ce. For two months at least, Woods would hold all four Grand Slam titles, a feat comparable only with Bobby Jones’ annexing of the previous version back in 1930. The only caveat this time, of course, was that the so-called ‘Tiger Slam’ was not accomplish­ed in a calendar year. No matter. No one had ever achieved the feat before and no one has managed to do it again since. WM 4| LOP 7| D 5| HS 10 | RB 10 | Total 36/50


Perhaps most memorable for the shot Sergio Garcia played from the foot of a tree with his eyes shut – followed by a run, skip and jump up the fairway – this was Tiger’s second Major. And one of the narrowest. Knowing he needed two pars to win, the 23-yearold made a clutch eight-footer on the penultimat­e hole, then two-putted from distance on the final green to edge out the even-younger Spaniard by a single shot. It was billed as the beginning of a long and hard-fought rivalry, but in the years since, Woods has added 13 more Majors; Garcia has just one. WM 6| LOP 8| D 9| HS 8| RB 5| Total 36/50


While Woods routinely saw off bigname challenger­s, he sometimes had trouble beating less-likely adversarie­s. This was one such case. In an epic duel that spilled over into a three-hole play-off, Bob May shot 66 around Valhalla three days in a row and still found himself beaten. Typically, too, Woods made vital putts, most notably a sliding five-footer on the 72nd to join the play-off. “This was my most exciting Major from a player’s standpoint,” said Woods. “Usually you can just cruise in with pars and win. That wasn’t going to be the case today.” WM 6| LOP 8| D 10 | HS 7| RB 7| Total 38/50


This was a clinic. On a burned- yellow Hoylake course, Woods used his driver once in 72 holes en route to a two-shot victory over fellow American, Chris Dimarco. The now three-time Open champion teed long iron after long iron from tee and fairway – a throwback to when the game at the highest level was played more on the ground than in the air. This was also Woods’ most openly emotional victory. Just weeks after the death of his father, he burst into tears and fell into caddie Steve Williams’ arms after holing the winning putt. WM 7| LOP 10 | D 7| HS 9| RB 8| Total 41/50


Only three weeks after his 15-shot US Open victory at Pebble Beach, Woods underlined his superiorit­y with an eightshot win at St Andrews. In doing so, he completed the career Grand Slam – the youngest and only fifth man to do so – and, remarkably, he did not find one of the fearsome bunkers. His 269 aggregate was the lowest-ever Open score at golf’s most famous venue. There was also time for a touch of symbolism. As Woods waited to begin his second round, Jack Nicklaus (who missed the cut by six shots) was putting out on the adjacent 18th green. WM 10 | LOP 10 | D 1| HS 10 | RB 10 | Total 41/50

=3 1997 MASTERS

In the beginning, there was an inexperien­ced young pro who, playing with defending champion Nick Faldo, was four-over through nine. By the end, golf had, at 21, the youngest-ever Masters winner and a new black superstar. In cruising to a 12-shot win, Tiger reduced Augusta to little more than pitch-andputt, routinely hitting short iron second shots into even the par 5s. Records tumbled. Woods’ aggregate of 270 was a Masters low. His nine-stroke 54-hole lead was the biggest ever. And he played the last three rounds in a record 16-under par (66-65-69).

WM 10 | LOP 10 | D 1 | HS 10 | RB 10 Total 41/50

2 2000 US OPEN

This was as close as profession­al golf has come to seeing total domination. The only man under par for 72 holes – and the first-ever to record a double-digit under-par winning score – Tiger claimed the 100th US Open title by 15 shots. Other records tumbled, too. This was the largest winning margin in a Major. And Woods became the first golfer ever to win the US Junior, Amateur and Open Championsh­ips. The tributes were many and fulsome, but future US Open winner, Michael Campbell, perhaps put it best: “The man is a freak of nature, worlds apart from us in every way.” WM 10 | LOP 10 | D 2| HS 10 | RB 10 | Total 42/50

=3 2019 MASTERS

At first glance, the numbers are not startling. On a day when the weather was far from extreme – blustery at most – Tiger Woods began the final round of the 2019 Masters two shots off the lead, shot a two-under par 70 and donned his fifth Green Jacket. He was 13-under par for the week. Not awful, clearly. But also far from spectacula­r. In fact, it is the third-highest of Tiger’s five winning scores. Ah, but there is more to golf – especially competitiv­e golf at the elite level – than mere statistics. And for those who knew what they were looking at, Tiger’s play over the closing 18 holes was something of a masterclas­s. As other, high-profile contenders around him faltered, the now 15-time Major champion went serenely about his business, hitting the shots required – and no more – all the way from first to last. Not once did he get impatient. Not once did he hit the wrong shot at the wrong time. For those reasons alone, this was one of Tiger’s finest Grand Slam wins, one that merits a highrankin­g on his almost peerless list. A strong tie for third seems about right. WM 8| LOP 8| D 9| HS 10 | RB 6| Total 41/50


1 2008 US OPEN

No one has ever won a Major playing on one leg. But the then 32-year-old Tiger came close at Torrey Pines when he claimed his third US Open – and last event of 2008. Even a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and stress fractures in his left tibia weren’t enough to prevent the greatest golfer of his generation from annexing his 14th Major title. Truly, it was epic stuff on what was supposed to be the final round, the highlight surely the bumpy 10-foot putt Woods holed on the 72nd green to force an 18-hole play-off with Rocco Mediate. But even that wasn’t enough to decide the winner. Tied on 71, the pair went one more extra hole before Woods prevailed with an anti-climactic par. “This is probably the greatest tournament I ever had,” said the champion. “But I’m glad I’m done. I really don’t feel like playing any more.” And he didn’t. Not in 2008 anyway. Two days later, Woods underwent reconstruc­tive surgery on his left knee. Some might say he hasn’t quite been the same man – or golfer – since. WM 8| LOP 10 | D 10 | HS 10 | RB 8| Total 46/50

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