Tigers Masterful Accomplishment

By Mercer BaggsApril 7, 2002, 4:00 pm
His head buried deep inside his baseball cap, Tiger Woods would not let the world see him cry.
The pressure had been levied. The hype matched. The questions answered.
Ive never had a feeling like this before, he said. I just started thinking, You know, I dont have anymore shots to play. Im done ' I won the Masters.
Woods didnt just win the 2001 Masters; he won his fourth consecutive major championship ' a feat never before accomplished on the professional level.
And after that final putt toppled in from 15 feet on the final hole, Tiger walked to the side, and in a brief but sudden emotional impact, the enormity of it all hit him.
It all began a year earlier in Augusta, Ga., when Woods opened in 75 and finished six strokes back of eventual champion Vijay Singh. The next major was the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He won by 15. Then the British Open at St. Andrews. He won by 12. Next was the PGA Championship. He defeated Bob May in the years most compelling event.
Congratulations, Tiger, youve just won three straight majors. Can you finish the Slam?
The Grand Slam, the Sequential Slam, the Tiger Slam ' it wasnt in a calendar year, but by any name, it was an opportunity to win four straight major championships. And no sooner had Woods hoisted the Wannamaker Trophy for the second time, he was inundated with questions on completing the cycle.
Every year, Tiger speaks of peaking four times. He started slowly in 2001, but almost as a byproduct of his preparation for Augusta, he won both the Bay Hill Invitational and The Players Championship ' his two prior starts before the Masters.
His game was on its way to reaching its first crescendo.
Throughout the week he played it cool. He didnt use sunglasses to hide the truth in his eyes. He didnt produce evasive answers to direct questions. He didnt show a hint of bravado.
What he was was calm, collected and unabashedly focused. No outside agency ' neither man nor media ' could tilt his plane.
Do I feel the burden of it? No, Woods said matter-of-factly the Tuesday before the first round.
From anyone else, we would scoff at such an outrageous statement. How dare he insult our intelligence!
But from Woods ' a man seemingly impervious to pressure ' it sounded sincere.
He shot 70 Thursday and ended the day tied for 15th. A Friday 66 had him tied for second. By Saturday, he was alone in first after a 68. Another 68 gave him a two-stroke victory.
For the second time Woods donned the green jacket. Coincidentally, it was the same size. He had been fitted for a looser version in 1997, not wanting to grow out of it anytime soon.
Tiger did plenty of growing in the five years after his first Augusta triumph. Physically, he added bulk. As an example of his fitness craze, his 2002 champions dinner will include a healthy dose of steak and chicken, rather than the fattening cheeseburgers he served up in 98.
However, it is mentally where the most maturing has occurred.
When I won in '97, I had not been a pro a full year yet. I guess I was a little young, a little naive, and didn't understand what I accomplished, for at least a year or two after that event, he said upon winning.
This year, I understand. I've been around the block. I've witnessed a lot of things since that year. You know, I have better appreciation for winning a major championship, and to win it ' to win four of them in succession, it's just ' it's hard to believe, really, because there's so many things that go into winning a major championship.
Tigers sixth career major victory was not only emotionally exhausting but physically draining, as well. In fact, defeating Phil Mickelson and David Duval proved to be a sickening experience.
I was beat, he recalled earlier this year. I was starting to get sick on Sunday, and by the time I got home Monday, I had a 104-degree temperature. I wore my body down pretty hard.
Woods didnt win another major for the remainder of the season, though he did add a couple of more titles to his resume. He also won his third consecutive Player of the Year award, along with countless other honors.
This year, he appeared to be on a similar path to Magnolia Lane. He once again won Bay Hill, but failed to repeat at Sawgrass.
He then decided to take a fortnight off before making the trip to Georgia. I dont want to take two weeks off, but Im going to, he said at The Players Championship. Tiger stated he didnt want to play last weeks BellSouth Classic, and couldnt make the trip to Houston, two weeks ago, because he had to attend the wedding of a friend hes known since the first grade.
The Augusta National that awaits Tiger and company is vastly different from the one of a year ago. Its reshaped in spots and 300 yards longer. Woods ' and common sense ' say the changes werent made to deter another Tiger triumph. If anything, the alterations increase the odds for a repeat victory.
I like the changes, what they have done. I like how they have now made driving a priority, not just hitting second shots, and obviously putting, but now youve got to get the ball in play, he said.
I spoke with [Augusta National Chairman] Hootie [Johnson] about the changes, and the changes are not for me. Theyre for the kids that are coming up in the future.
Theyre getting bigger and stronger, and the new technology is helping out. Its only going to enhance that in the future. So, I guess they went ahead and took a step to prevent players in the future from shooting tournament low scores.
Tigers record score of 18-under-par 270 (set in 1997) may be safe for a while. And should anyone break it, it may well be him.
Woods, once again, has been gearing his game for the stretch run down Magnolia Lane. Hes been arduously practicing that one shot he may or may not have to use over the weekend. If need be, hell be ready.
A successful defense wont come easy. Mickelson, Duval, Singh, Els, Garcia, Olazabal and others have no desire to watch Woods hand himself another green jacket.
It will be a matter of who peaks at the right moment. Whom fate shines promisingly upon. And whose emotions can stay intact until that final winning putt falls come Sunday.
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Tiger can't commit, goes OB on 16: 'That’s on me'

By Will GrayMarch 18, 2018, 11:05 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Standing on the 16th tee with the leaders in sight and the roars of the crowd still ringing in his ears, Tiger Woods contemplated three different options for his most critical tee shot of the week.

He couldn’t decide on any of them, and as a result deposited his chances of winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational into a backyard adjacent to the fairway.

Woods was only one shot back through 15 holes, but with the leaders well behind him on the course he knew he needed at least a birdie on the par-5 16th to keep pace. Instead, he pulled his tee shot left and out of bounds, leading to an untimely and costly bogey on the easiest hole on the course.

“I was caught,” Woods said. “I couldn’t decide what I was going to do.”

In Woods’ mind, he had three options: “fit” a driver left to right with the shape of the fairway, “bomb it over the top” of the dogleg or just hit a 3-wood “straight away.” He opted for the driver, but after missing right the first three days he sent his ball sailing left.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

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“I bailed out and hit a bad shot,” Woods said. “And that’s on me for not committing.”

Woods went on to bogey the next hole, but after a par save on No. 18 he finished the week in a tie for fifth at 10 under for his third straight top-12 finish. Given the sizzling close of Rory McIlroy, an eagle on 16 likely would have still left him looking up at the Ulsterman on the leaderboard.

“Even though I got up there, I just knew I needed to keep making birdies,” Woods said. “Those guys had so many holes behind me, where I just birdied the same holes and so if they made birdie on those holes, I would have to keep going. I got to 16, I figure I’ve got to play the last three holes in 3 under to have a chance and probably force a playoff. And maybe that wouldn’t have been good enough the way Rory is playing back there.”

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McIlroy (64) storms to Arnold Palmer victory

By Nick MentaMarch 18, 2018, 10:48 pm

Rory McIlroy fired a bogey-free, final-round 64, birdied the 72nd hole in Tiger-esque fashion and stormed to a three-shot victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here’s how Rory ended his winless drought, and how the aforementioned Woods made a Sunday charge before collapsing late:

Leaderboard: McIlroy (-18), Bryson DeChambeau (-15), Justin Rose (-14), Henrik Stenson (-13), Woods (-10), Ryan Moore (-10)

What it means: This is McIlroy’s 14th PGA Tour victory and his first worldwide win since Sept. 25th, 2016. That was the day he walked away from East Lake with both the Tour Championship and the FedExCup. It was also the day Arnold Palmer passed away at the age of 87. With the win, McIlroy reasserts himself as a force following a winless 2017 in which he was plagued by a nagging rib injury. The four-time major winner will make one more start at next week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and then make his way to Augusta National, where he looks to complete the career Grand Slam.

Round of the day: Two back to start the final round, McIlroy made his eight birdies in bunches. He circled three of his last four holes on the front nine – Nos. 6, 7 and 9 – to make the turn in 3-under 33 and work his way into the mix. Following three pars at 10-12, he caught fire, ripping off five birdies in his final six holes. He took the outright lead at 14, chipped in at 15, and sealed the deal at 18.

Best of the rest: DeChambeau made McIlroy earn it, cutting the lead to just one when he eagled the 16th hole as McIlroy was walking to the final tee. A par at 17 and a bogey at 18 netted him 68 and solo second.

Big disappointment: This is Stenson’s fourth top-five finish at this event in the last six years. The overnight leader by one, he went 71-71 over the weekend and bogeyed 18 to finish fourth.

Biggest disappointment: Woods made a vintage Sunday charge at Bay Hill before bogeying two of his final three holes and settling for a final-round 69 and a tie for fifth.The eight-time API winner was minus-5 on the day and just one off the lead when he sniped his tee shot at the par-5 16th out of bounds to the left. He bogeyed both 16 and 17 before making a scrambling par at 18 to finish the week 10 under par.

Shot of the day: McIlroy’s birdie putt at 18.

Remind you of anything?

Quote of the day: "It means a lot. You know, the last time I won a PGA Tour event was the day Mr. Palmer passed away, so it's a little bit ironic that I come here and win. He set a great example for all of us players to try and follow in his footsteps. If everyone on Tour could handle themselves the way Arnie did, the game of golf would be in a better place. ... To be able to win his event, I wish I walked up that hill and got a handshake from him but I'm so happy to my name on that trophy." - McIlroy

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TT postscript: Masters hype builds after final-round charge

By Tiger TrackerMarch 18, 2018, 10:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Here are some thoughts from walking one last loop alongside Tiger Woods on another steamy afternoon at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

• What might have been. Woods transformed Bay Hill into an absolutely electric atmosphere when he started the back nine with three birdies in four holes to get within a shot of the lead. Dressed in his traditional red and black, it was a second straight Sunday where we were treated to watching him try to catch the leaders down the stretch.

• But the momentum he had built up disappeared with a single tee shot, as Woods pulled his drive on the par-5 16th out of bounds and into someone’s backyard. His chances for a ninth tournament title were effectively ended with one errant swing, as he bogeyed the easiest hole on the course and then bogeyed the next for good measure.

• While the closing stretch was disappointing, it was still another remarkable week for Woods considering where his game stood a month ago. His 3-under 69 in the final round lifted him to 10 under for the week, and he ended up in a tie for fifth. He’s now on the cusp of the top 100 in the world rankings, and he’ll head to the Masters on the heels of three straight top-12 finishes for the first time since 2008.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

• It didn’t take long after his final putt dropped for Augusta National to become a topic of conversation. Woods has played only once since 2014, and he plans to make a return trip before the season’s first major to re-acclimate himself with the course and make sure his yardage book “is still good.”

• Taking the long view on things, Woods was all smiles about his comeback that remains a work in progress. “If you would have asked me at the beginning of the year that I would have had a chance to win two golf tournaments,” Woods said, “I would have taken that in a heartbeat.”

After going T-2 and T-5 in this latest fortnight, Woods will now have two weeks off before he tees it up for a chance to win his fourth green jacket, his first major since 2008 and his first tournament anywhere since 2013. Can. Not. Wait.

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Highlights: Tiger (69) makes charge, collapses

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 18, 2018, 9:45 pm

Tiger Woods made a vintage Sunday charge at Bay Hill before bogeying two of his final three holes and settling for a final-round 69 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The eight-time API winner was 5 under on the day and just one off the lead when he sniped his tee shot at the par-5 16th out of bounds to the left. He bogeyed both 16 and 17 before making a scrambling par at 18 to finish the week 10 under par, in a tie for fifth.

"I didn't commit to it," Woods said of his drive at 16, where he attempted to fly his ball over the fairway bunkers, rather than hitting a cut or laying back. "And that's on me for not committing."

Starting five off the lead, Tiger got rolling with with a laced 2-iron and a par at No. 1.

Woods hit the green at the par-3 second but left himself a 50-foot birdie putt and a 6-footer to save par, which he walked in.

A two-putt 4 at the par-5 fourth gave Woods his first birdie of the day and moved him to 8 under for the week. Apparently energized, Tiger pulled driver at the short par-4 fifth and unleashed this violent swing.

A pitch from the thick rough hit a sprinkler head and stopped on the apron, leading to this birdie try, which fortunately hit the pin but unfortunately didn't fall.

Looking to pick up another stroke - or two - at the par-5 sixth, Woods took his drive 317 yards over the water and hit this second shot from 227 yards to 13 feet, leading to another two-putt birdie when his eagle try burned the right edge.

Returning to his trusty 2-iron, Tiger found the fairway at the par-4 eighth and then threw this dart from 176 yards to 6 feet and rolled in his third birdie putt of the day to move to 10 under.

His momentum was slowed by his first bogey of the day at No. 9, the product of an errant drive and its ensuing complications. As a result, Woods made the turn 2 under on his round, 9 under for the week, and still five off the lead, like when he started the day.

But Woods wouldn't wait long to make up for his mistake, immediately responding with another flagged iron and birdie at No. 10.

He continued his assault on Bay Hill's par-5s at the 12th, getting up and down from the sand for a birdie-4 that moved him to 11 under par, just two off the lead.

This roll at 13 giving him his third birdie in four holes, and the charge was officially on, as Woods was suddenly just a shot back.

Just when it looked like Woods was primed for a late run at his 80th PGA Tour victory, Woods stepped to the tee at the par-5 16th, where he had missed wide right three days in a row, and ripped his drive out of bounds into a backyard miles left.

He made 4 on his second ball for a bogey-6 and dropped another shot at the par-3 17th, ending his chances.