Tipping Point From 1996 into 2002 the golf gods smiled on Tiger Woods. Then, at the '02 British Open, his fortunes took a dramatic turn for the worse

June 14, 2004

Golf changed forever on Oct. 6, 1996, when Tiger Woods ushered in a
new era by winning the Las Vegas Invitational. Someday we might
look back on July 20, 2002, as the end of the Tiger Era. It was on
that Saturday that a fierce storm rose up as Woods, who already
owned the '02 Masters and U.S. Open titles, was about to begin the
third round of the British Open at Muirfield. Playing in a
four-club wind amid sheets of rain, Tiger struggled to an 81, his
worst score in a major. He would go on to finish 28th, beginning a
winless streak in the majors that stands at seven.

Coincidence? No, says Ernie Els, the winner of the '02 British.
"That Saturday changed a lot of things. When the wind came up and
he shot that score--since then there's been a huge change in golf.
Tiger had been getting all the breaks, with tee times, weather,
everything. Since then it's been different."

Here's what else has gone wrong in Tiger's previously charmed life
since that fateful day.

AUG. 7, 2002
Woods, who earlier had said there was nothing he could do about the
lack of women at Augusta National, restates his position after a
flood of negative press. "I am only one voice," he says in a
statement on his website, tigerwoods.com. Woods also denies the
authenticity of Internet photos that purportedly show his
girlfriend, Elin Nordegren, in the nude.

AUG. 18
During the final round of the PGA, Woods is looking at a birdie
putt on the 12th hole when he hears a roar from 11. Rich Beem
(right) has made an eagle to open a three-shot lead. Woods appears
to blink and then three-putts. After another bogey at 14 he is six
shots back. Although he birdies the last four holes, Tiger comes up
a stroke short, and Beem wins. Says Arnold Palmer, "When Beem made
that eagle, if you were watching Tiger very closely, you saw a
change of expression on his face. I know him well enough to know
the difference. That's the first time I've seen him lose it. I saw
him get distracted for a second and quickly make two bogeys. That
surprised me."

AUG. 24
Flirting with the lead at the NEC Invitational, Woods blames Steve
Williams (right), his caddie, for a wasted shot in the third round.
"It was a nice, smooth five-iron, and Stevie talked me out of a
five and into a six," he says. "It's a stupid play, and it cost me
a shot."

AUG. 26
Britney Spears (left) gets a call from Celine Dion, who tells her
that Woods wants to record a duet with Spears titled Let's Make a
Hole in One. "Oh, I would be so interested, definitely," says
Spears. "When do you all want to do it?" The caller isn't Dion.
It's shock-radio comedian Marc Audette.

SEPT. 19
At the American Express Championship in Ireland, Woods is asked if
it's more important to win the AmEx or the following week's Ryder
Cup. He says the AmEx and explains, "Why? I can think of a million
reasons." The British tabloids don't get the joke and take Woods
apart the following day.

SEPT. 29
Tiger is dissed by the Golf Channel for not wearing the same
short-sleeved red shirt as his Ryder Cup teammates. (Hoping to
break a fever, Woods wore a long-sleeved mock turtleneck.) European
captain Sam Torrance (above) piles on after the U.S. loss by
saying, "They have one Tiger, but I have 12 lions."

NOV. 2
After bogeying 18 on Saturday at the Tour Championship, Woods
angrily kicks a fence post outside the scoring trailer. Asked later
about his limp, Woods says his knee hurts but he doesn't want to
use it as an excuse.

NOV. 18
The New York Times editorializes that Tiger should boycott the
Masters to protest its lack of female members.

DEC. 1
Woods is annoyed with a photographer at the Skins Game, so Williams
takes the man's camera and tosses it into a water hazard.

DEC. 4
Two men steal three of Tiger's wedges from the locker room during a
pro-am dinner at the Target World Challenge, Woods's own
tournament. Later, a jet flyover before the tournament frightens
Arabian horses in a nearby stable, causing two of them to die from
panic.

DEC. 12
Tiger has fluid drained and cysts removed from his left knee. "I've
been playing in pain most of the year and felt it was time to take
care of it," Woods says.

FEBRUARY 2003
Phil Mickelson (right) declares in Golf Magazine, "Tiger and I
don't have issues. Well, maybe one. He hates that I can fly it past
him now. He has a faster swing speed than I do, but he has inferior
equipment. Tiger is the only player who is good enough to overcome
the equipment he's stuck with."

FEB. 18
With six seconds left in a Lakers-Rockets game and the score tied,
Houston guard Steve Francis (right) walks over to Woods at
courtside and congratulates him on his recent win at the Buick
Invitational. (The Rockets lose in double OT.)

MARCH 21
A dehydrated Nordegren (below) collapses outside the Bay Hill
clubhouse and is rushed to the hospital, where Tiger spends the
evening with her.

MARCH 23
Woods wins the Bay Hill Invitational by 11 shots despite suffering
from food poisoning. (Nordegren had put garlic in their pasta the
night before. Tiger is allergic to garlic.)

APRIL 9
When Tiger says that Augusta should admit a woman, Masters chairman
Hootie Johnson (below) responds, "I won't tell Tiger how to play
golf if he doesn't tell us how to run our private club."

APRIL 13
Mike Weir wins the Masters. Only four shots out of the lead going
into the final round, Woods shoots himself out of the tournament
when he pushes his drive into the trees on the short 3rd hole and
makes a double bogey. "I wanted to hit an iron, but Stevie said it
was better to play from in front of the green," he says. "I made
the wrong decision."

JUNE 11
Tiger has a new look (orange hair) and a new Nike driver. Without
naming names, he also accuses some Tour players of using illegal
drivers and calls for mandatory testing.

JUNE 15
Jim Furyk wins the U.S. Open. Woods makes only nine birdies and
finishes 20th, his worst Open as a pro.

JULY 17
Tiger's opening tee shot at the British Open flies into the high
fescue at Royal St. George's and is lost. He makes a triple bogey
and shoots 73.

JULY 20
Ben Curtis wins the British. Tiger closes with a 71--with 33
putts--to finish fourth.

AUG. 1
Woods puts his old Titleist driver back in his bag.

AUG. 17
Shaun Micheel wins the PGA at Oak Hill. Woods comes in 39th at 12
over, his worst score against par in a major since turning pro.

OCT. 26
Vijay Singh (right) wins the Disney and takes the money lead. Says
Woods, "Anyone would much rather have player of the year than the
money title."

JAN. 7, 2004
Tiger meets 14-year-old Michelle Wie (right) at the Mercedes
Championships. "I didn't realize she's taller than I am," he says.
"Oh, man."

FEB. 28
Davis Love III dominates Woods in the Match Play final but is only
one up after 18. Frustrated, Love confronts a heckler on the 23rd
hole and has him removed, then fails to win another hole. Woods
wins 3 and 2 to become the first member of the 40-40 Club--40
victories (in 149 starts, 72 fewer than Jack Nicklaus needed) and
$40 million in earnings.

MARCH 23
Butch Harmon (below), Tiger's coach through the '02 U.S. Open, says
on TV that he's "a telephone call away" if Tiger wants help.

MARCH 24
Woods responds to Harmon by saying, "Butch and I are still friends,
but as far as asking for help on my swing, there is no chance of my
calling him."

MARCH 25
The Tiger Cut Watch--he has advanced to the weekend in 120
consecutive starts--is on after a 75 (despite 11 one-putts) to open
the Players Championship.

MARCH 26
Woods shoots 69 to make the cut by two shots.

APRIL 11
Mickelson wins the Masters. Woods, who is nine shots out of the
lead at the start of the final round, throws up behind the 1st
green, vomits again on the 2nd hole and suffers hot and cold spells
that he blames on a preround sandwich at Augusta National. He comes
in 22nd.

MAY 9
For the first time in 19 career tries Woods leads after 36 holes
(at the Wachovia Championship) but fails to win.

MAY 16
After the Byron Nelson, Tiger is 18-2 when leading a tournament
after two rounds.

COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY HEINZ KLUETMEIER BLOWN AWAY Woods shot an 81 in the third round at Muirfield, his highest score in a major. COLOR PHOTO: DOUG MILLS/AP (BEEM) COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK (WILLIAMS) COLOR PHOTO: MATT YORK (SPEARS) THREE COLOR PHOTOS: FRED VUICH (TORRANCE, SINGH, WIE) TWO COLOR PHOTOS: HARRY HOW/GETTY IMAGES (MICKELSON, WOODS AND HARMON) COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (FRANCIS) COLOR PHOTO: DAVID GONZALES/WIREIMAGE.COM (NORDEGREN) COLOR PHOTO: ELISE AMENDOLA (JOHNSON)

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