Slammed Shut


The scene was similar to that of four years ago.
Wearing red, Tiger Woods rolled in his final putt on the 18th hole, pumped his fist, and then fought back tears as he hugged his father while walking triumphantly into the scores tent to officially sign for his Masters trophy.
1997 was historic. But that year, Woods was just beginning to take his first steps toward history. This time hes walking a path never traveled before.
Woods carded a final-round 4-under-par 68 Sunday in Augusta, Ga. - emphatically sealing his victory with a birdie on the 72nd hole. At 16-under-par, Woods finished two shots clear of David Duval; and three strokes removed from his Sunday playing companion Phil Mickelson.
Tigers triumph is his fourth in a row in major championships. He won the 2000 U.S. Open by 15 strokes. He then won the British Open by eight shots. And he capped his historic season by winning the PGA Championship in a playoff over Bob May.
In donning the Green Jacket, Woods becomes the first man in the history of the game to hold all four major championships simultaneously.
Ive succeeded in what I wanted to accomplish, Woods said. I dont feel ecstatic yet. It hasnt sunk in.
Words dont do justice to what Woods has accomplished. Perhaps it was best described in a silent reaction. After fighting his swing, the course, and a pair of formidable opponents en route to his sixth career major championship, Woods faced one last battle ' with his emotions.
Upon winning, Tiger used his cap to cover his face in order to hide his tears of happiness and relief.
'I've never had a feeling like that before,' said Woods, who collected $1,008,000 for his win. 'I finally realized I had no more to play. I'm done.'
It was billed as possibly the most dramatic day in golf. The worlds No. 1 player going head-to-head with the worlds No. 2; while in the background loomed a host of major caliber contenders.
At stake was more than a Green Jacket. It was a place in history.
And it wasnt about destiny. Destiny is predetermined. The winner of the 65th Masters would have to earn the title.
Duval made the most noise early. After bogeying the par-4 1st, he birdied holes two and three. Then after another bogey at the 4th, he responded with consecutive birdies on holes 5-8.
When he tapped in for birdie at the par-5 8th, Duval found himself in sole possession of the lead at 13-under.
Though he wouldnt remain alone for long.
Playing in the final pairing, both Woods and Mickelson birdied the par-4 7th. Woods moved into a tie at the top, while Mickelson kept pace just one shot back.
At the 8th, Tiger reclaimed the outright lead by sinking a 10-foot birdie putt to move to 14-under.
He stayed on that number as he entered the back nine, where it is said the tournament truly begins.
Duval birdied the par-4 10th to once again tie Woods for first at 14-under. Tiger then seesawed back in front with a birdie of his own at the par-4 11th.
At the par-3 12th, Woods found trouble for the first time since a bogey at the 1st. Tiger flew his tee shot into the back bunker. He managed to blast out to six feet, but missed the par save and fell to 14-under.
The par-5 13th offered a reprieve. Woods birdied the 485-yard hole to take a one-shot lead over Duval at minus-15.
Meanwhile, Mickelson was fighting to stay afloat. The left-hander matched Tigers birdie at the 13th to stay within two shots. He then climbed to within one with a birdie at the par-5 15th.
Woods could have seemingly sealed the victory at No. 15, but inexplicably missed a two-foot birdie putt. Instead of leading by two with three to play, Woods advantage was but one at 15-under.
The lead was one because of a fatal error by Duval.
Duval stood at 15-under after birdieing the 15th, but flew a 7-iron over the green at the par-3 16th. He pitched to seven feet, but failed to save par and dropped to 14-under.
All was not lost for Duval, who like Mickelson was in search of his first career major trophy. After a par at the 17th, he staked his approach shot on the par-4 18th to five feet.
However, it proved to be but a cruel tease. Duval never scared the cup. He tapped in for par and entered the clubhouse at 14-under.
Once again, for Duval, it was wait and see. In 1998, he was in the same predicament; standing on the sidelines, waiting for a possible playoff, only to watch Mark OMeara birdie the final hole to steal away the Jacket.
But this time, Duval had to hope for a mistake ' from the worlds best, nonetheless.
Woods and Mickelson each parred the 17th, which meant Mickelson would have to birdie the 72nd hole and pray for a Tiger bogey.
Neither occurred.
Mickelson parred the hole, while Tiger drilled his 18-footer.
He simply does what is required, said a gracious Mickelson. If Im going to win with Tiger in the field, I cannot make the mistakes Ive been making.
'I just cant afford to keep throwing shot after shot away. All in all, I dont feel as though Im that far off. I just think that mentally, Im not there for all 72 holes.
Said Duval: Weve got a player who is certainly the best player in the game right now. I think what it will do is make my victories in these majors that much more special.
Mickelson and Duval will each have to wait until June for another chance to seize that elusive first major. The U.S. Open is next on the schedule at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.
For Tiger, the time is now.
In the modern era, no professional has laid claim to what Woods has now accomplished.
Not Jack Nicklaus, Tigers boyhood idol, who missed a chance to hold all four major titles at the same time in 1972. Not Arnold Palmer, for whom the definition of the modern Grand Slam was first conceived.
Only an amateur can relate to Tigers success. It was Bobby Jones who won the four biggest tournaments ' the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, British Open and British Amateur ' in the same year of 1930.
That Grand Slam is not debatable.
Call Tigers run what you will ' the Grand Slam, the Tiger Slam, the Sequential Slam, the Fiscal Slam. It really doesnt matter, least of all to Woods.
Regardless of how its headlined, the 25-year-old now possesses all four major trophies at the same time.
It will probably go down as one of the top moments in our sport, said Woods. I dont think its right for me to comment on that.
His play has already said it all.
News, Notes and Numbers
*Aside from winning four consecutive majors, Woods has won each of his last three starts (Bay Hill Invitational and THE PLAYERS Championship). He now has 27 career TOUR titles.
*Mark Calcavecchia and Angel Cabrera each held a share of the lead in the final round. Calcavecchia shot 72 to tie for fourth. Cabrera shot 73 to tie for 10th.
*18- and 36-hole leader Chris DiMarco birdied 16 and 18 to shoot 2-over 74 and finish in a tie for 10th.
*Defending champion Vijay Singh shot rounds of 69-71-73-69 for a 6-under-par total and a tie for 18th.
*30 players finished the event under par. Tiger's 272 total is two shots shy of the tournament record he set in 1997.
Full Coverage of the 2001 Masters Tournament