Tiger Woods is widely regarded as one of the best players to ever feature in a sport where only Jack Nicklaus has more Major Championship victories than the 42-year-old, who recently returned to the golf course after a long-term injury.
Woods turned professional in 1996 and it did not take him long to become a PGA Tour winner, with success coming in the Las Vegas International that year when he beat Davis Love III in a playoff. Here is a look back at the American’s greatest ever wins in a career that saw him dominate the sport for the best part of two decades.
1997 US Masters
It took Woods less than 12 months to win his first ever Major Championship and that came at the age of just 21 at Augusta National Club where he became the youngest ever winner of the tournament and the famous Green Jacket.
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The former Amateur Champion was so dominant in Georgia that he won the competition by a record 12 strokes. Incredibly, Woods made a slow start on day one as he was four shots over par after the opening nine holes. From there onwards though, he made a mockery of the course as he looked to score at every opportunity.
Woods shot a 65 on day two of the tournament and, after a round of 66 on the Saturday, he was soon in control at Augusta to enter the record books as the most dominant winner ever.
2000 US Open
In 2000, Tiger Woods was at the peak of his form and, as a result, was going off as the short-priced favourite in the golf betting for the Major Championships during that year. For a while, it simply made good sense to bet on the Californian regardless of what event he was appearing in. And, once again, in the 2000 US Open, the American broke a new record with a 15 stroke victory at Pebble Beach, a course he has since had so much success at.
The field for the 2000 Major featured Nicklaus who was playing in his final US Open, Vijay Singh, who had just recently won the US Masters and was challenging Woods for the number one spot at the top of the world rankings, Ernie Els and David Duval. Woods, though, was just far too clinical as he relished the conditions to lift his first US Open trophy.
2000 Open Championship
Woods completed the Career Grand Slam of Major Championships with victory in the 2000 Open Championship, where he became the youngest player in history to complete the set, beating the previous record set by Nicklaus two years ago.
The American got off to a solid start on day one at St Andrews as he shot a 67 that left him one shot off Els going into the second round. A 66 and 67 respectively from Woods soon put him in control heading into the Sunday, where he cruised to victory by eight strokes ahead of Els and Thomas Bjorn.
Not only was this a huge win for Woods in completing the set of Major Championships, it was his first big success outside of the United States, therefore, it helped build his profile around the world as one of the leading sportsmen on the planet.
2005 US Masters
One of the most iconic moments of Woods’ career so far came at the 2005 US Masters, where the eventual winner chipped in from off the green on the 16th hole, a shot which is regarded as one of the greatest five of his career. The former world number one played the shot with just the right amount of pace that it only just dropped in to produce a stunning moment that gets played back every year at Augusta during the tournament.
Woods was pushed all the way for his fourth Green Jacket but he showed admirable strength to overcome the challenge of Chris DiMarco in a playoff. The pair teed off at the 18th hole and after both men hit good drives down the fairway, it was Woods who was able to take advantage with a birdie, which sealed his 14th Major Championship success.
The 2005 US Masters was Woods’ last victory at Augusta, however, he did go on to finish inside the top ten at the next six consecutive tournaments at the course in Georgia, therefore, it is fair to say it is a competition in which the American has excelled at and where he has often produced his best golf.
2008 US Open
Woods’ last Major Championship came in the 2008 US Open, which was arguably his best ever success, as we found out after the event that he was carrying a serious knee injury that eventually ruled him out of the sport for the rest of the year, as he had to undergo surgery.
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This was Woods’ 14th Major victory and the one he is most likely to be proud of. Due to US Open rules, Woods had to play a 18 hole play-off against Rocco Mediate as both men were tied on -1 after 72 holes. Even after 18 more holes, nothing could separate the two players and it was only after a sudden death hole that Woods was able to defeat his fellow American compatriot with a par, which bettered Mediate’s bogey.
If this does prove to be Woods’ last Major win, it can be one he can look back on with great pride as he showed tremendous character amidst a great deal of pain on the final day of the tournament.
Woods’ next opportunity to add to his tally of 14 Major Championships comes at the 2018 US Masters on April 5-8.