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Tiger Woods - The Greatest of All Time

By: | Fri 03 Dec 2021 | Comments


TIGER WOODS changed the face of professional golf for ever and every player who routinely picks up winners’ cheques for sums in excess of $1m should give thanks to him. When Woods was in the field TV viewing figures went through the roof. Fans and sponsors alike couldn’t get enough of him. Everybody wanted him in their field.

He was golf’s first genuine gym bunny, and when he first started winning golf tournaments all the talk was about “Tiger-proofing” courses. His rivals quickly worked out that if they were to have any chance of competing with him then they needed to work out too. And that is precisely why we now have players such as Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy all routinely hitting the ball into the middle of next week. But when it comes to matching his genius, nobody comes close.

Tiger Woods

He won 15 majors. Jack Nicklaus won 18. The greatest of all time? It has to be Woods, if only because so much of his career was blighted by injury. Including this year, injury meant that he missed 18 majors.

He spent months in recovery from assorted surgeries when he should have been out there winning majors. Despite that, he spent more 550 weeks as world number one - a record nobody will ever come close to matching.

He is the only man to have held all four majors simultaneously, the famous Tiger Slam in 2020-21. And at the peak of his powers, his rivals couldn’t hold a candle to him.

When he turned professional in 1996 he had no status but he quickly won twice and was named rookie of the year. But it was his victory at The Masters in 1997 that announced his arrival as a golfer of special abilities. Paired with defending champion Nick Faldo, he played the front nine in 40 shots. But then he flicked a switch. Woods broke every record in the book as he won by 12 shots.

And consider this…he won the 2000 US Open by 15 shots and the following month won The Open at St Andrews by eight strokes. He then defeated Bob May in a playoff to claim the US PGA Championship and added another Green Jacket, winning The Masters in April 2021. With all four major trophies in his cabinet, it seemed there was nothing he couldn’t do.

He won The Players Championship twice and claimed a staggering 18 World Golf Championship titles, and when he won the ZoZo Championship in 2019 he equalled Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour wins.

When he was at his peak he was well-nigh unbeatable. In 1997 he won four times and climbed to the top of the world rankings for the first time - at 21 years of age he was the youngest to achieve the feat. He only won once in 1998 but claimed eight victories in 1999, nine in 2000 and five each in 2001, 2002 and 2003. A brief slump followed and he was replaced by Vijay Singh as world number one, but in 2005 he won six tournaments, in 2006 he won eight times, in 2007 there were seven victories, in 2008 he won four times and in 2009 there were six victories.

His crowning glory came at the US Open at Torrey Pines in 2009 when he defeated Rocco Mediate over 91 holes and later revealed that he had done so with a broken leg.

Months afterwards, stories began to circulate that Woods - a married man - was at the centre of a National Inquirer story in which it was claimed that he was a serial cheat. This coincided with him being found in his car after hitting a fire hydrant. It later emerged that his wife had attacked him after confronting him about the allegations.

He later stood in front of the world’s media and, shame-faced, admitted that it was true. At that point in his life he had 14 majors to his name. He took some time away from the game and it would be 10 years before he finally added a 15th, at The Masters in 2019.

He played little golf in 2010 and 2011 as injuries began to take their toll but he returned to something approaching his best in 2012, with three wins. And in 2013 he reclaimed the world number one spot with five wins in just 16 starts. It turned out to be a false dawn. More injuries followed and from 2014 until 2017 he spent much of his time either in hospital or in rehab. In 2017 he reached what was probably the lowest point when he was arrested at the wheel of his car. A confused Woods was unable to tell police officers what had happened and it later emerged that he had become addicted to painkillers. It looked like there would be no way back.

But there was. He had make-or-break fusion surgery on his back and, lo and behold, won the Tour Championship in 2018 amid hugely emotional scenes. Then came his scarcely believable Masters triumph in 2019. He struggled with injury once again for much of 2019-20 and then came the news of his car crash in February this year. It emerged that he was travelling at around 80mph and suffered horrendous leg injuries. After months in recovery, Woods has finally revealed to the world that, this time, there will be no fairytale comeback. And that is hardly surprising - he very nearly lost his right leg in the crash.

So what does the future hold for Tiger Woods? His late father, Earl, once said that if Woods chose to run for office then he could easily become US President. But politics would seem to be an unlikely path for the 15-time major champion. We will still see him playing in the occasional tournament and he may even contend from time to time. He is also involved in course design, has a foundation in which he will probably now play a more active role - and he has said that he wants to spend more time with his children.

He certainly won’t be short of money - he has pocketed more than $120m in prize money alone and is one of the wealthiest sportsmen in the world, with a vast income from endorsements. There is no reason why that should change.


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