Signature shots in Tiger Woods decade of dominance

By Doug FergusonAugust 18, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 PGA ChampionshipCHASKA, Minn. ' Tiger Woods knew this day was coming. He just didnt want to believe it.
He was at Oakmont for a corporate function two months before the 2007 U.S. Open, sitting in an indoor practice facility as he talked about missing the cut a year earlier at Winged Foot. Woods agreed with the notion that perhaps more surprising than him missing the cut in a major was that it took 10 years for it to happen.
You figure youre going to have one bad week, he said.
It also was suggested that at some point, he would have the lead going into the final round of a major and not win.
He was 12-for-12 at that point.
I dont know, Woods said. His smile indicated that he never wanted to consider such a possibility, although reality returned moments later when he added, finishing his thought, If I keep putting myself in that position.
The moment arrived Sunday at Hazeltine in the PGA Championship when Y.E. Yang erased a two-shot deficit with pars, took the lead by chipping in for eagle and put Woods away with a birdie on the final hole for a three-shot victory.
So much for that perfect record on the last day at the majors, now 14-1.
That 14 out of 14, or whatever the numbers are, they are just staggering, Fred Couples said Tuesday. And when something happens, we make it like the world is going to come to an end.
The only thing that ended was an amazing decade in the major championships, which Woods dominated like no one before him.
  • His 12 majors in one decade were more than any player except Jack Nicklaus won in his entire career.
  • Woods won 32 percent of his majors ' 12-of-38 ' and finished no worse than third in half the majors he played.
  • He won the career Grand Slam three times over.
    Along the way, there was a defining moment at each of the four majors that illustrate his success.
    THE MASTERS: SPECTACULAR SHOTS: Crank up the highlights on Woods and it will start with his chip on the 16th green in the final round at Augusta National, the one that made a U-turn at the top of the hill, posed for the cameras at the edge of the cup, then dropped for birdie.
    That didnt give him a green jacket ' he bogeyed the next two holes and won in a playoff. Rather, it was a shot that captured the theater Woods so often provides. It was a great chip from the moment it left his club. Anyone else, and it might not take one last turn.
    Sure, there were other clutch moments, such as putts on the 18th green at Torrey Pines (U.S. Open) and Valhalla (PGA Championship).
    After watching on TV as his son hit a 6-iron out of a bunker, over the water and onto the green at the 2000 Canadian Open, Earl Woods said that night, In every tournament, hell hit shots that people will be talking about for 30 years.
    Not every tournament. But an awful lot of them.
    U.S. OPEN: DRIVE AND DOMINANCE: A putt that probably wont make any highlight was his 15-footer for par on the 16th hole at Pebble Beach in 2000.
    It was meaningless to everyone except Woods. He punched his fist when it fell, a strange reaction only because there were two holes to play and he was leading by 13 shots. He later said he was determined not to make bogey in the final round. Having blown away the field, that was the only challenge he had left.
    The putt was merely symbolic of the week, which remains his greatest feat.
    Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus talked about winning four majors in one year. Woods has even broached the idea of winning every tournament in a year. Who ever thought someone could win a U.S. Open by 15 shots?
    Tom Watson called it far and away the most sensational thing he had ever seen.
    BRITISH OPEN: FOCUS: Woods was in total control of his game at Royal Liverpool in 2006, plotting his way around the baked-out links with a superb display of irons. He only lost control when he tapped in for his two-shot victory, sobbing on the shoulder of his caddie, and then his wife.
    It was a poignant moment, his first victory since the death of his father.
    Even after establishing his dominance in golf, there were questions how he would respond to life changes ' marriage, children, losing parents, especially his father. Woods got married in October 2004 and won two majors the next year. His father died, and he followed with two majors. And after becoming a father for the first time, he closed out the year with a major.
    PGA CHAMPIONSHIP: LOSING: Woods stared solemnly at his golf ball as Yang celebrated his remarkable victory at Hazeltine. It was not the first time Woods played in the final group without winning, but the first time playing with the winner.
    Throughout the decade, losing only made Woods victories look even more impressive. There is a fine line between winning, and Woods always seems to wind up on the right side of it.
    Consider the putts he made at Valhalla, Augusta National, Torrey Pines, Southern Hills ' and the ones inside 10 feet he missed Sunday at Nos. 10, 13, 15 and 17. He got the wrong gust at the right time on the 17th. Instead of his approach on the 18th hopping right toward the hole, this time it went left into the rough.
    A bad day at the wrong time, Woods said.
    Which makes all those good days '12 majors this decade ' all the more astounding.
    Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
  • Getty Images

    Schauffele just fine being the underdog

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

    Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

    Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

    Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

    “All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

    Getty Images

    Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

    So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

    Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

    Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Jordan Spieth: 7/4

    Xander Schauffele: 5/1

    Kevin Kisner: 11/2

    Tiger Woods: 14/1

    Francesco Molinari: 14/1

    Rory McIlroy: 14/1

    Kevin Chappell: 20/1

    Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

    Alex Noren: 25/1

    Zach Johnson: 30/1

    Justin Rose: 30/1

    Matt Kuchar: 40/1

    Webb Simpson: 50/1

    Adam Scott: 80/1

    Tony Finau: 80/1

    Charley Hoffman: 100/1

    Austin Cook: 100/1

    Getty Images

    Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

    For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

    By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

    But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

    As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

    “This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

    Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

    As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

    After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

    “I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

    But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

    Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

    “I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

    There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

    Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

    And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

    As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

    “We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

    Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

    Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

    The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

    Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

    It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

    Getty Images

    Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

    One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

    McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.

    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

    McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

    “I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”