It may have been 17 years ago, and the WGC-Dell Match Play may be no more after 2023, but how could you forget this most brutal, merciless highlight of Tiger Woods’ career?
Woods won the WGC Match Play for the first time in 2003 and three years later, there was a bit of heat applied to his first-round match against Stephen Ames.
Ames provided what became a template for “famous last words” in the lead-up by saying, “anything can happen, especially where he’s hitting the ball,” about his match with Woods.
Woods had won the Buick Invitational in the month prior to the Match Play, held in La Costa, California, so the then-30-year-old was still full of confidence when Ames made his surprising comment.
The “anything can happen” part certainly rang true as the brutal Tiger beatdown unfolded. He made seven birdies in the first nine holes to go 9 up at the turn.
When asked for his reaction after the match in Carlsbad, Woods just replied with, “9&8.”
The 15-time major champion later revealed “how ticked he was” that he missed a putt on the 10th hole to upgrade the victory to 10&8, the ultimate golfing humiliation.
“I just think he didn’t all quite respect the way that I can play the game of golf,” Woods told Geno Auriemma on the Holding Court podcast in 2017. “So I had to show him that I can still play.”
Ironically, Woods was beaten 1 up by Chad Campbell in the third round.
Nonetheless, this still stands as the record margin of victory at the event, and Woods also holds the record margin of victory in the final after beating Stewart Cink 8&7 in 2008.
Perhaps the victory worked as a catalyst for Ames.
Just three tournaments later, the Canadian won the Players Championship by six shots, a margin only to be matched or bettered by two other winners in the history of the event.
It was also a lesson learned. Don’t give Tiger Woods the motivation he already possesses to take out an opponent in devastating fashion.
We dive deep into the golf ball roll back plans!