Farmingdale, NY- In the 2000s, few athletes dominated their sport as completely as Eldrick Tont Woods controlled the golf world. He rewrote the record books and built a case to be considered the best golfer in the sport’s history.
Tiger Woods authored memorable moments like his miraculous playoff hole-out to win the 2005 Masters, dominating the 2000 US Open at Pebble Beach for the widest margin of victory at a Major (beating Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez by 15 strokes), and a heroic effort to top Rocco Mediate with one healthy leg in the 2008 US Open. There seemed nothing Woods couldn’t do nor any way his march toward the top of every golf record could be stopped.
After his triumph at Torey Pines in 2008, however, he fell apart. Tiger went a decade without a Major win while being mired in injuries and personal scandals. One mess led to another until Tiger faded from memory and began to pass into legend. Woods made a resurgence with seven PGA victories across the 2012 and 2013 seasons, and Top-Five performances at the 2012 Open Championship and the 2013 Masters. But the injury bug struck again and nearly ended Woods’ career for good. He missed two cuts at two majors and appeared beyond his time as a champion golfer.
Yet, that’s not the discussion today. Tiger found a friend in NFL Quarterback Peyton Manning who understood what he was going through. “I think when he was traded from Indianapolis to Denver, we played together at Medalist. I said, How’s it feeling? He said, Not that great. How many push-ups can you do? I can do six push-ups. He goes out and wins MVP that year. So just because someone doesn’t have the strength to do something, he’s going to figure out a different way, and that’s what we were talking about when we played, is that I don’t have a fastball, he can’t zip the ball into those tight little windows or in — he has to anticipate more. He has to do more work in the film room. I had to do more work on managing my game, my body, understanding it, what I can and cannot do, shots that I see I could pull off or better save it for another day. And more than anything, trying to figure out how to be explosive day in and day out.”
Tiger rode his work ethic and roared back to life at last year’s PGA Championship with a final round of 64, the best final round any major performer has scored. He fell two strokes short of Brooks Koepka for the crown at Bellerive but was the story leaving St. Louis, ahead of the champion. Tiger added a victory at the Tour Championship in Atlanta to close the 2018 season.
At Bethpage Black this week, a course he’s already won a Major at in the past, Woods has a chance to take a step closer to Niklaus’ record of major wins and the opportunity to tie Sam Sneed’s 54-year-old record for most tour victories.
The fact that Woods is so close to these long-standing and highly respected records after his personal problems and injuries dropped him to a fallen hero is remarkable. Tiger is already the best golfer of the age and has a chance to climb one more rung up the ladder with a good performance on a challenging course that he has won at before. Tiger is fully aware of his history and place in the sport.
“My narrative spans just over 20 years. A neat thing about this championship here is that when Jack played in his final PGA in 2000, I played with him, he said he played with Gene Sarazen in his final PGA.”
Tiger’s challenge begins with an 8:24 AM Thursday Tee Time. Woods goes against reigning Open Champion Francesco Molinari and reigning PGA Champion Brooks Koepka off the tenth tee. The three were top finishers in the last PGA Championship in August and have the last three Majors under their belts between them. The trio is slated to tee off on the first tee at 1:49 PM on Friday.
Woods decided to forgo a final practice round on Wednesday, opting to rest instead ahead of his Thursday morning tee time.