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  • Woods completed one of the best comebacks in sports history at the 2019 Masters, but where does it rank among his 15 major titles?
By Daniel Rapaport
April 14, 2019

As the saying goes, no iconic feat goes unranked.

Tiger Woods did the impossible on Sunday, winning the Masters for his 15th major championship and truly completing one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.

The victory sent us on a trip down memory lane and got us thinking: Where does this win rank among the 15?

A disclaimer: the criteria for these are far from an exact science. Think of it as a highly subjective ranking of which wins were the most…interesting?

15. 2006 PGA Championship

He simply played better than everybody else, shooting four rounds in the 60s at Medinah to win major No. 12. Second place that day, five behind Woods? Shaun Micheel. Not exactly riveting action.

14. 2002 Masters

Woods’s third of five Masters titles doesn’t garner the same attention as the other three (more on those later). He entered the final round tied with Retief Goosen but had a three-shot lead by the fourth hole. Woods would win by that same margin, he was never challenged down the stretch.

13. 2005 British Open

Tiger completes his second career Grand Slam at the age of 29 with his second Open Championship win at St. Andrews. He was the solo leader after all four rounds and wound up beating Colin Montgomerie by five shots.

12.  2007 PGA Championship

In the second round at Southern Hills, Woods shoots 63 for the first and only time in a major championship. His lead was trimmed to one at one point, but the eventual two-shot victory over Woody Austin was comfortable.

11. 2002 U.S. Open

This was the first major ever played at a municipal golf course, and Tiger and Phil Mickelson gave the people what they wanted. Lefty charged on Sunday, and at one point he and Woods were four shots clear of third place, but he was undone by bogeys on 16 and 17. Woods won by three, and became the first golfer in 30 years to win both the Masters and the U.S. Open.

10. 1999 PGA Championship

A 24-year-old Woods was stumbling down the stretch as a 19-year-old from Spain named Sergio Garcia charged. But Garcia couldn’t muster one more late birdie and Woods hung on to win by one. This set the stage for what was supposed to be the golfing rivalry of the 90s, but it never really materialized—Garcia would not win a major until 18 years later.

9. 2000 PGA Championship

Remember Bob May? The journeyman pro, who never won a PGA Tour event, gave Tiger everything he could handle at Valhalla. The two players combined for 10 birdies and no bogeys on the Sunday back nine, and both birdied 18 to send things to extra holes. Woods won the three-hole playoff by a single stroke, and this might still be the major that required Tiger to play better than any other down the stretch.

8. 2005 Masters

This tournament produced one of the most iconic moments of Tiger’s career: the chip-in on 16. But here’s what people don’t remember—he bogeyed 17 and 18 and needed a playoff to beat Chris DiMarco. (To be fair, he did birdie the playoff hole).

7. 2006 British Open

A course management clinic, Woods only hit driver once all week as he avoided Royal Liverpool’s notorious fairway bunkers. This was also the first major he won after the passing of his father, and he broke down in tears after holing the final putt.

6. 2000 British Open

Woods completes the career Grand Slam at 24 in a dominant, eight-stroke victory at the most historical golf course in the world, St. Andrews. Coming off his victory at that year’s U.S. Open, it was further proof that Woods was in a completely different league than anyone else. His 19-under total was, at that point, the lowest score in relation to par in major championship history.

5. 2001 Masters

Tiger came into the 2001 Masters with a chance to become only the second player to win four major championships in a row. It wasn’t easy, as he was chased by two of the world’s best players in David Duval and Mickelson, but a final-round 68 was good for a historic two-shot victory. He punctuated the historic feat with a birdie on 16 for good measure.

4. 2008 U.S. Open

We knew Tiger was hurt when he won at Torrey Pines, but the extent of his injuries—and of his accomplishment—didn’t become clear until after he holed a 12-footer for birdie on the 72nd hole, after he edged Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole playoff on Monday. We learned that Tiger had been playing on a broken leg and a torn ACL, and he underwent season-ending surgery right after the tournament. It would also turn out to be the last major Woods would win for almost 11 years.

3. 2019 Masters

So many had counted Tiger out before he won this one, and they had good reason to. He hadn’t won a major in 11 years. He had been through a sex scandal. He’d been videotaped after driving under the influence. He was 43 years old and had undergone four back surgeries and suffered countless other injuries. He was now competing against deeper fields than ever before. All that doubt made this one extra sweet, and it jolted his quest to break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors back on track.

2. 1997 Masters

It’s impossible to overstate the impact this win had. Woods announced himself to the world as the new face of golf, as perhaps the new face of sports, in the most dominant way possible: A 12-stroke victory and a Masters scoring record…at the age of 21. It was also a hugely impactful moment for society: A black man winning on a course with such an exclusionary past. This tournament saw Tiger Woods become Tiger Woods, and set the stage for all the rest of his triumphs.

1. 2000 U.S. Open

Quite possibly the greatest golf tournament anyone has played, ever. Woods shot 65 in the first round at Pebble Beach to take a one-shot lead…then he shot 69 and led by six….then he shot 71 and led by 10…then he closed with a bogey-free 67 to win the U.S. Open by 15 shots. He finished at 12 under. Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez finished joint second at three over. This was the first time it was abundantly clear that Tiger Woods wasn’t just the best golfer in the world; he had a great chance to become the best golfer to ever play the game. It remains the largest margin of victory in a major championship ever.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)