Tiger’s Greatest Triumphs: Three Times Woods Defied All The Odds

The 46-year-old confirmed his place in this year's Masters on Tuesday morning
11:01, 07 Apr 2022

You simply couldn’t write the life of Tiger Woods. A man that has seen it all, won the lot and done it again. From his outstanding start as a junior, college and amateur golfer to his dominance of the sport for a decade, Woods’ life has been more than a spectacle to most. The most famous man in the history of golf returns to where he won his first major with dreams of once again wearing a green jacket. 

Before he potentially beats the odds once again, it’s worth remembering some of the times where he defied all expectations…

The Masters 2019

A true fairytale unfolded at Augusta National in 2019. After making his comeback to the sport in 2018, Tiger Woods was back on the circuit and enjoying himself. He got close to major glory that year, with a sixth place finish at Carnoustie in the Open and a second place at the PGA Championship. A win at the second-ending Tour Championship gave him a FedEx Cup win, ending his five-year drought without a win. 

He kept up his good form throughout the start of the 2019 season. The Masters came up on the calendar and he found himself shooting a 70 to start his tournament off. On Friday he delivered a 68 to take him to six under par and finished his Saturday exploits just two shots behind Francesco Molinari, the clubhouse leader going into the final round.

A first nine behind the Italian leader subdued too much excitement, before Molinari found the water twice, forcing two double bogeys within three holes. Woods holed a birdie on 15 to separate himself from the leading pack, followed by another on the 16th hole to make sure of his commanding lead. The parade began, with fans surrounding the final two holes waiting for golf’s prodigal son to return to the top of the sport. 

With a bogey on the final hole, he beat out Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka, who shared second place. He became the second oldest winner of a green jacket and it was his fifth in total. It was the comeback of comebacks, regarded by some as the greatest in any sport of all time. The footage of Tiger and his sons’ embrace after winning has been seen over two million times on Twitter alone. 

The unwritable script was written that weekend, and the 2022 Masters sees just as dramatic of a return for Tiger.

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2008 US Open

Torrey Pines played host to the US Open, a famously difficult course and the longest to ever host a major championship. Tiger was returning to the course after receiving arthroscopic surgery on his left knee after a difficult runner-up finish at The Masters that  same year. 

The crowd can be forgiven for thinking that his limping around the course was a bit of an act to gain sympathy or add a bit of reason to his performance. He even slipped on the cart path during his second round out, damaging the leg even further (spectators could hear it crack), but still made a birdie on the same hole. 

This was a momentous weekend for Tiger; it was his first Father’s Day since the birth of his daughter Sam that was spent away from home over on the coast of San Diego. He started every round except the second with a double bogey on the first hole. The US Open was introducing future stars like Martin Kaymer, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler, and Australian Stuart Appleby kept up the heat on the first two days before the frontrunners emerged in Tiger, Lee Westwood and Rocco Mediate. 

In the end, the four day event turned into five days with Woods and Mediate eventually going to an 18-hole playoff. We won’t ever see stakes as high nowadays as the Open changed their rules to make sure that there are only three holes in a playoff, rather than coming back the next day to play a full round. 

The playoff was the most watched golf event on American TV at the time. It was a tense affair to say the least. Mediate finished the front nine two over par, trading the lead three times before a capitulation from both men. By the 13th tee, Woods was two over with Rocco a shot behind. They both birdied the long par five 13th hole, Mediate continued and made it three birdies in a row and sat at even par.

Tiger couldn’t find a birdie to draw level, struggling further and further with his injury. The final hole saw an incredible birdie that meant that we were going again, before yet another playoff on the seventh hole where Mediate dropped his chance by bogeying, before Tiger made par and sealed his final major of the noughties. 

Two days following his dramatic win, news of his injury was revealed. During the rehab stages post-surgery two months earlier, he suffered a double stress fracture of his left tibia. He missed the rest of the 2008 season, with surgery being undertaken to repair his anterior cruciate ligament and fix his broken leg

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2006 Open Championship

The British Open visited Hoylake in 2006, a course with plenty of wind, horrendous rough and a tight snaking layout on the Wirral. The world’s finest arrived in Merseyside but for Tiger it was different. Earl Woods, Tiger’s father, had just passed away. 

Earl was the man who taught Tiger how to play golf and used a wide range of mental techniques to teach him how to get past distractions on the course and become the aggressive winner we all know. The father-and-son duo spent countless hours on the courses since he was just able to walk. He attended almost every event and although their relationship had moments where it strained, Earl was Tiger’s best friend for most of his life. 

The Open was the first major tournament win Tiger had after the death of his father, and it was never going to be easy. Royal Liverpool is an incredible course in the sense that, apart from its six dune holes, it’s flat and open, with the wind from the sea ready to ruin any shot that dares hang in the air. Tiger only hit his driver once in that entire week of golf, something pretty much unheard of for him. 

Tiger finished that week having become the first player since Tom Watson in 1982 and 1983 to win consecutive British Opens. He held off Chris DiMarco, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk and Sergio Garcia finishing 18 under par, one off the record for lowest winning score in a major. 

It was an emotional affair at Hoylake. The final hole saw a composed Tiger break down into the shoulder of his then-caddy, Steve Williams, who embraced him before he went down to the clubhouse to lift the Claret Jug.

Tiger Woods is 66/1 to win The Masters with Betfred*

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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