Golf Asia


Tiger’s career has been defined by miracle shots that most players wouldn’t even contemplat­e, let alone attempt. Here are his five greatest, in reverse order…


2006 US OPEN Second shot, 6th hole,first round

The amazing thing about a Tiger Woods ‘top shot’ list is that two people could come up with two entirely different, but valid, lists with not a single common shot between them. In rejecting a dozen or more candidates, we not only came down in favour of his shots at the Majors, but also shots that only Tiger Woods and a handful of others could ever hope to hit. This is such a shot. In thick rough to the right of the fairway, Woods faced an uphill shot of 202 yards into the wind and over a large cypress tree. Instead of hacking out at a 45-degree angle and leaving a simple wedge to the green, Woods took a 7-iron and muscled the ball out so ferociousl­y, it cleared the tree, climbed the hill and ran onto the front of the putting surface. “It’s just not a fair fight,” said NBC’S Gary Koch. He would birdie the hole and go on to win by 15 shots!


Second shot, 14th hole,second round

Hoylake was burned to a crisp for the 2006 Open, making the fairways difficult to hold. Woods sensed early in proceeding­s that distance was not going to be nearly as important as keeping the ball in play, so he clubbed down on nearly every tee, hitting a long-iron or 3-wood for safety. After a 2-iron off the tee at the 14th on Friday, he was left with 209 yards slightly uphill to the hole. What little breeze there was drifted across the hole from the right and Woods held a tiny fade up against it, the ball pitching on the front right of the green and taking a couple of hops before finding the bottom of the cup. Two days later he would have his reward, winning his third Claret Jug and 11th Major title.

2008 US OPEN

Fourth shot, 18th hole, final round

How could a holed 12ft putt be higher on the list than a holed 4-iron from 209 yards, or a fairway bunker shot from 216 that finishes 18ft from the hole? When it has to cross a poa annua green so uneven and bumpy the ball barely stays in contact with the ground, and when it must go in to earn a spot in a play-off for the US Open, that’s how. Woods reached the 72nd hole at Torrey Pines needing a birdie to tie Rocco Mediate on one-under-par. His drive found a bunker, his second shot the rough. His third finished to the right of the hole, leaving him the tricky 12-footer he had to make. Like Seve Ballestero­s’ birdie putt on the 72nd hole of the 1984 Open Championsh­ip, Woods’ effort never looked like it was going in, until it caught just enough of the hole and stayed down. Woods would win the play-off after 19 holes the following day.

2002 US PGA

Second shot, 18th hole, second round

Early Saturday morning, after heavy rain had prevented play on Friday, at the 457-yard 18th, Woods found a fairway bunker on the left, the ball lying close to the left edge and forcing him to stand an inch or two closer to the ball than normal. He had 202 yards to the hole, uphill and with a 20mph wind blowing left to right. He would need to get the ball up quickly to clear the lip and trees, then hook it into the wind despite the ball sitting a couple of inches below his feet. He took a 3-iron and clipped the ball so perfectly it rose, soared, hooked and plummeted to Earth 15ft left of the hole. “It was one of those magical moments when everything comes together,” said Woods. He made the putt of course, but could only finish the championsh­ip in second place a shot behind Rich Beem.


2005 MASTERS Second shot, 16th hole, final round

It had to be. It’s the final 18 holes of a tournament he prizes above nearly all others. He is playing alongside his closest challenger – Chris Dimarco, a player who will not give up. Dimarco birdies at 11, 14 and 15 have reduced the gap to one, and he has another makeable birdie putt at 16. Woods, meanwhile, faces a tantalisin­gly tough chip that appears impossible to get close. But he hits a remarkable shot, aimed well wide of the flag, that behaves exactly as he plans. The ball edges slowly toward the hole, the noise from the gallery growing with every rotation. It reaches the cup, pauses on the edge, flashes the Nike swoosh and delicately drops in.

It’s almost perfect: the only things missing were that it had actually been played before with a similar result (Davis Love in 1999) and that it wasn’t the 72nd hole of the tournament. Other than that, it had everything.

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