Tiger Woods has spent the better part of a quarter-century defying physics with a golf club in his hands.
He didn’t just win; he won in style.
Ahead of this week’s Hero World Challenge, here are the 10 most heroic shots of Woods’ career (editor's note: Woods withdrew from the Hero on Monday because of plantar fasciitis):
10. 2019 Masters, final round, 16th hole
As those around him began to crumble, Woods found himself in position to win his 15th major championship after an 11-year drought that featured more trips to the surgical suite than the winner’s circle. Coming off a two-putt birdie at the 15th, golf’s great showman flirted with an ace at the 16th, sending the crowd into a frenzy and propelling Woods to a fifth green jacket.
9. 2000 WGC-NEC Invitational, third round, 18th hole
It’s hard to count the number of memories Woods has provided at Firestone Country Club over the years, but this one is certainly near the top of the list. After a substandard tee shot that finished in thick rough 184 yards from the hole, Woods was left with a seemingly impossible shot. Well, for most it would be impossible. For Woods, it was just another Saturday. A mighty hack with a pitching wedge sent his ball into the Ohio sky as he squeezed it through the trees guarding the front of the green, ultimately finishing some 15 feet from the hole.
8. 2000 WGC-NEC Invitational, final round, 18th hole
That’s right, we traveled a whole 24 hours to get to the next shot on the list. Sunlight is typically a necessity in the game of golf, but it wasn’t needed for Woods to throw a dart on the 72nd hole and cap off his 11-shot victory. It was his second trophy in as many Sundays after defeating Bob May in a playoff at the PGA Championship just one week earlier.
7. 2000 U.S. Open, second round, sixth hole
“It’s just not a fair fight,” said Roger Maltbie. A wayward tee shot at the par-5 sixth left Woods buried in deep rough with 202 yards up the hill at Pebble Beach. The broadcast estimated that half the field would’ve simply pitched out sideways. The result was the most iconic shot in one of the most iconic performances in golf history, as Woods went on to win by a record 15 shots.
6. 2012 Memorial, final round, 16th hole
Woods had broken a winless drought of more than two years just a few months earlier at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and was vying for another victory at Jack’s Place. An errant tee shot at the par-3 16th left him with one option out of the deep rough at Muirfield Village: a flop shot with water lurking beyond the pin. Woods himself couldn’t believe how softly he got the ball to land on the green before it trickled down the hill and fell over the front edge of the cup for an unlikely birdie. He would go on to win by two shots after adding another clip to the highlight reel.
5. 2001 WGC World Cup, final round, 18th hole
Woods was partnered with David Duval at the 2001 World Cup in Japan, and the duo found themselves two shots off the clubhouse lead as they played the par-5 18th in alternate shot. Duval missed his approach right of the green, leaving Woods short-sided, needing to hole the chip to enter a playoff. What happened next was seemingly conjured up by some of Hollywood’s most brilliant writers, as Woods bumped a wedge into the slope and watched his ball roll over the front edge of the hole like a putt. He called it, “Honestly, one of the best shots I’ve ever hit in my life.”
4. 2002 PGA Championship, second round, 18th hole
The shot that Woods has called the “best feeling” strike of his career did not come in a victory. Instead, it came at Hazeltine when the 15-time major champion finished runner-up to Rich Beem. Looking to close his second round with a birdie and inch closer to the lead, Woods pulled his tee shot into a fairway bunker and got an unlucky break when his ball settled near the back-left lip of the trap, allowing him just enough space to get both feet in the sand. The stage was set for Woods to do something only he could do, hoisting a 3-iron up and over the trees between himself and the hole and bringing the ball down softly into the middle of the green before rolling in the birdie.
3. 2000 Canadian Open, final round, 18th hole
Woods headed to Glen Abbey in 2000 seeking his ninth PGA Tour victory of the season, and he needed to birdie the par-5 18th to close it out. An errant tee shot left him in a fairway bunker with 213 yards to the hole, needing to carry his second shot roughly 200 yards just to clear the pond that guards the front of the green. With a 6-iron and a prayer, Woods hit one of the greatest shots of his career, landing near the hole before settling on the collar just off the back of the green. He would get up and down for birdie to seal a one-shot victory.
2. 2008 U.S. Open, final round, 18th hole
“Unbelievable. I knew he’d make it," said Rocco Mediate. Woods was never hesitant to push his body to – and often past – it’s limit, but what he did at Torrey Pines in 2008 redefined what that meant. Winning a U.S. Open on a broken leg shouldn’t be within the realm of possibility, and yet, Woods stared down a putt on the 72nd hole that had to find its way across the bumpy Poa Annua just to earn him 18 (turned into 19) more holes the next day. Like Mediate, we all knew he’d make it.
1. 2005 Masters, final round, 16th hole
Woods stepped to the tee at the famous par 3 with a one-shot lead over Chris DiMarco, who had already played a safe tee shot that finished about 15 feet from the hole. Woods – seeking his fourth green jacket at just 29 years old – then hit an uncharacteristically poor tee shot that finished against the second cut left of the green. The broadcast described what Woods faced as one of the toughest pitches on the golf course and even speculated that he may not be able to get it inside DiMarco’s tee shot. As was often the case with Woods, magic ensued. DiMarco could only watch as Woods sent one of the most brilliant shots the game has ever seen tumbling down the slope that slices through the 16th green. Everyone on site held their breath as Woods’ ball stopped on the front lip of the hole, then chaos ensued and celebrations erupted as it took one last tumble for an unlikely birdie. Woods went on to defeat DiMarco in a playoff.