It’s US Open week and it just isn’t the same without the one and only Tiger Woods joining in all the action at Torrey Pines. With so many incredible and unforgettable performances under his belt, Woods has been an inspiration to many golfers that will be competing. His skillful determination is unmatched, making him truly worthy of being named the GOAT. Join us as we relive all of our favorite Tiger memories in this two-part countdown of his greatest moments.
“Where it All Began” – The Mike Douglas Show 1978
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Contrary to popular belief, Tiger’s “Hello World” press conference near the end of 1996 was not the first time we were introduced to the GOAT. Oh no my friends…that came when the then 2-year-old El Tigre, still knee high to a grasshopper, appeared in 1978 on the Mike Douglas Show. A young Tiger flaunted a near perfect swing, tempo that could carry an orchestra and a pizazz that even managed to impress one of the most influential golfers of the era, The Great Bob Hope.
“First Career Win” – 1996 Las Vegas Invitational
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What Else would you expect. Greatness cannot come from nowhere… Thus, his first career win. The catalyst to arguably the greatest golf career the sport has witnessed. Let me set the scene for you: back then this event was 5 rounds. It was a playoff for the history books, budding star Tiger Woods against then superstar Davis Love III. After stumbling out of the gates with a 70 in the first round (8 strokes behind the leader after day 1), Woods settled down and lit up the course, firing scores of 63, 68, 67 and 64 in his final 4 rounds. It was as if his game only got stronger, while the competition wilted in the Phoenix sun. Tiger easily defeated his opponent in the first extra hole as it went into a playoff. This was the first of many “overtime wins” in his career but he was on the board. Tiger had arrived…
“The First Green Jacket: Early Dominance Revealed” – 1997 Masters
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Enter stage left: Tigers first major tournament victory. Spoiler ALERT, as if you didn’t already know, Tiger Woods blew the competition away with a majestic aggression that left a mark on the sport. What else would we all expect in hindsight right? Tiger Woods dominated the field that week flashing that rye smile and that fist pump that would become his signature move in the years to come. Not only did he finish 18 under par but he also won by an amazing 12 shots. Both records that held up for some 23 years until DJ cracked 20 under par at the November Masters in 2020 during the “Infamous Fall Version” of Augusta National. Should there be an asterisk by DJ’s new Master’s record? Hmmmm??
“Career Grand Slam at Age 24” – 2000 British Open
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What more is there really to say? This guy accomplished more by 24 than most of us do, in our lives, and did so with an ease that made me both jealous and inspired to pick up the game at the same time. In winning the 2000 British Open at St. Andrews, the 24-year-old Tiger Woods became the youngest player ever to achieve a career Grand Slam. Just another day in the life for Mr. T!
“Battling The Unlikely Bob May” – 2000 PGA Championship
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The 2000 PGA Championship. Perhaps the biggest threat to Tiger’s early reign. After a hard-fought battle, the two went to a nail-biting playoff, where May would eventually succumb to Tiger’s dominance. He did not go down without a fight, and that was really the only real chance Bob May ever had at a major championship. After a 3 hole playoff, Tiger walked away a champion yet again. His first taste of adversity. That did not come without some drama if you remember…This is the scene of the iconic “Finger Point” (yes, we ALL remember that one). But it was also the scene of the “Mystery Kid in the Bushes Theory”. Tiger’s ball headed miles left and barreling towards out of bounds, moments later mysteriously reappeared. It tumbled down the cart path and he had a look. He went on to make par. Here’s the transcript of what was said on the telecast:
__ Venturi:__ “What happened with that ball?”
__ Nantz:__ “Do you think someone either kicked it or threw it back in that direction?”
__ Venturi:__ “I don’t know. It, it didn’t. . .”
__ Nantz:__ “It didn’t react naturally, did it?”
__ Venturi:__ “No, it didn’t at all.”
__ Nantz:__ “I sure hope someone didn’t slap it back.”
__ Venturi:__ “It could have been someone jumped up and hit it with their hand.”
Upon looking at the replay again a few moments later, Venturi declared, “Oh, that was going into that deep, deep rough and this kid kept it from going in there. That would have been an unplayable lie, maybe.” The world may never know!
“This Guy is in a Class All His Own” – 2000 U.S. Open
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Not that he ever disappointed an eager crowd, but Tiger Woods’ work in the 2000 U.S. Open was perhaps the most dominating performance in his career. Possibly the most dominating performance over the course of 72 holes in history…On his way to finishing with the largest margin of victory in a Major and becoming the only player of that specific tournament to finish under par (-12), 15 shots in front of the guys in 2nd place! Let it be noted that Miguel Ángel Jiménez and Ernie Els were tied for second place with a score of +3.
“ Broken Leg, Torn ACL, and the W” – 2008 U.S. Open
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This one is near and dear to my heart. As a San Diego native I have played Torrey Pines many times. It is both the most beautiful scenic golf course I have ever played and the meanest evil temptress I have set foot on. I was also lucky enough to be on site for a few rounds in ’08 at the Open and it was everything I had hoped for and more! Tiger, After hobbling through much of the tournament, found himself needing a birdie on the final hole to force overtime, which he naturally hit. He doubled down and showed the world his “double fist pump” when that putt dropped. Sense a theme here? That boy GOOD! He found himself in another playoff and as we all know, Tiger lives for the limelight. (Woods has an 11-1 playoff record, the best winning percentage (91.7%) of any player with more than five playoff appearances). During the 18-hole Monday playoff, he was once again needing a birdie on the final hole to force sudden death. Strike two Rocco – not looking good old buddy…Woods finally defeated Mediate on the 91st hole. Oh yeah, by the way he was playing on a broken leg and a torn ACL. He went on to have surgery and missed the rest of the 2008 PGA season.
Stay tuned for Part 2 on Monday…