WHAT'S DRIVING TIGER

April 06, 2008

For Tiger Woods, golf is all about the major championships. Winning them, he says, makes people remember you. This year Woods has upped the ante. Besides pursuing his long-stated goal of surpassing Jack Nicklaus's record 18 major titles, Woods has talked openly for the first time about winning the Grand Slam. That mission starts, or ends, next week at Augusta National. Here is a photographic breakdown of Tiger's swing plus charts that measure (from left) his rate of success in winning majors compared with Jack's, how many majors Woods is on pace to win if he plays to age 50 and a composite scorecard of his best and worst holes at the Masters.

FIVE!
Woods has won the Masters four times, tying him with Arnold Palmer for second in career victories at Augusta, two behind Nicklaus. Having won seven of his last eight starts, Woods is an overwhelming favorite to add a fifth Masters title next week. (Ladbrokes of London lists him at even money.) Such dominance has come about because Woods has finally mastered all the elements of a swing he spent the last few years retooling. Earlier this year, during the third round of the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines, also the site of the U.S. Open in June, SI photographer Robert Beck caught Woods's action from the moment he stepped onto the 2nd tee until he completed his follow-through. The images have been composed to make it look as if Tiger (left, with caddie Steve Williams) were watching himself. Woods went on to win the tournament—for the sixth time—by eight strokes, which is why, if he'd actually had an out-of-body experience, he probably would've been smiling.

Jacked Up

Once established as dominant players on the Tour, Nicklaus and Woods tailored their schedules to target the majors. Tiger has accelerated the pace set by Jack.

[This article contains a complex diagram. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

MAJORS WON

Masters

U.S. Open

British Open

PGA

WOODS

NICKLAUS

PGA TOUR EVENTS PLAYED

Major Haul

Winner of 13 majors overall, Woods, 32, has won 11 of them in the last eight years, putting him on a pace of roughly three titles every two years. At that rate, here's his projected major-championship total at five-year intervals up to age 50.

[This article contains a complex diagram. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

18th win
35 years old

25th win
40 years old

33rd win
45 years old

40th win
50 years old

Best Ball, Worst Ball

In 13 trips to the Masters, Tiger has birdied every hole at Augusta National at least once and has eagled a few too. Here's what his scorecard would look like if he counted his best score on each hole.

[This article contains a complex diagram. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

What would Tiger's worst score at each hole add up to? Believe it or not, if Mr. Major had strung together these hackerlike stinkers, he wouldn't have broken triple digits.

BIRDIE
EAGLE
BOGEY
DOUBLE BOGEY
TRIPLE BOGEY

FOUR CHARTSCharts by Slim Films EIGHT PHOTOSPhotograph by Robert BeckPhoto Composition by SI Imaging PHOTOSAM GREENWOOD/WIREIMAGE.COM (FLAG) PHOTOANDY LYONS/GETTY IMAGES (WOODS) PHOTOPHIL SANDLIN/AP (NICKLAUS)

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)