Valuation of Tiger Woods’ most important Masters wins

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Five wins 22 years apart, a resemblance: A red shirt under a green jacket.

Tiger Woods won his first Masters 25 years ago this week, a pivotal moment in golf as the first black legacy player to win at Augusta National and how he destroyed the course like no other before him or since.

Equally remarkable, if not more so, was his fifth green jacket in 2019 after Woods returned from four surgeries on his lower back, the last to fuse his spine, in such poor condition that he feared he might never play again.

In the middle was his most historic Masters victory, the Tiger Slam, when Woods made a clean sweep of the top four professionals in a span of 294 days. The feat remains his alone.

The most popular shot in television history at the Masters? That would be his card in hole 16 in 2005 that went up the ridge, down the slope and stopped at the edge of the cup for a whole second before falling for a birdie.


And when Augusta National expanded the field in 2002, nine of the 18 holes were lengthened in the biggest reform in the club’s history, Woods became only the third player to win in a row.

So what was the most significant victory?

The question was asked to 25 people – mostly media, some players and some caddies – and the result was resounding.

1997 (15 votes)

“It scared a lot of people. Definitely the first one,” said three-time senior champion Padraig Harrington. “Anyone who played that week must have felt,‘ Oh my god. How can I overcome this? “

It will surely draw a lot of attention this week as the 25th anniversary of a Masters where Woods made his professional debut by breaking 20 records, including the margin (12 shots) and the scoreboard (270) and his age (21).

The victory came two days before Jackie Robinson’s 50th birthday broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, which adds to the importance. The late Lee Elder, who became the first black golfer to play in the Masters in 1975, the year Woods was born, was among those who saw how he developed.


And yet, he made as many comparisons to Jack Nicklaus as he did to Jackie Robinson.

“Tiger’s win at the 1997 Masters was a one-and-two hit, unlike anything golf has seen before, or seen since,” said Michael Bamberger, a longtime golf writer and author now in golf. com. “It was impressive as an athletic statement and as a social statement.”

Most panelists referred to it as a time that changed the landscape of golf, a time in time that defined a new era. There weren’t many of those.

Gary Van Sickle, a longtime golf writer for Sports Illustrated now with the online site “Morning Read,” compared the 97 Masters to the Secretariat’s victory in Belmont for the Triple Crown.

“The most significant American golf event since Francis Ouimet won the US Open,” he said.

2019 (6 votes)

No stranger to surgeries, especially on his left knee, his back was a major problem. Woods was barely able to climb the stairs of the Masters Club dinner on Tuesday night in 2017, and there were second-hand conversations he made. The pain was too great.


And then he was operated on for fusion. In late 2017, he looked better in the Bahamas. He challenged at Carnoustie in 2018, and the comeback was seemingly and remarkably complete when he won the Tour Championship. The only thing missing was a major one.

Max Homa said the “younger self” could choose 1997 because of the way golf has changed.

“But ’19 is the most amazing thing for me, as an adult who plays this game, understanding how hard it is whether you’re healthy or not,” he said. “That was the closest thing to the excitement I felt watching a golf tournament.”

Excitement was a big part. The players, some of them Masters champions with their green jackets, waited for him outside scoring. Guttural chants of “Tiger! Tiger!” resonated throughout the course, perhaps all of Augusta.

“It was a phenomenon that transcended sports and attracted the attention of people from all walks of life who were fascinated by the themes of rebirth, resurrection, and redemption,” said Bill Pennington of the New York Times.


Golf Digest’s Joel Beall saw it through a wider lens. Woods became a rock star in 1997 with a victory that transcended the sport. Over the next two decades of giving fans dominance of the field and disappointment, Woods became “so human that it hurt.”

“His victory in 2019 meant the most because it was a shared victory.”

2001 (4 votes)

As much as his 97 victory reshaped golf, no stretch of golf was more dominant than when Woods won the US Open and the British Open in 2000 for a total of 23 shots. He did what he considers the most clutch putt of his career in the 18th hole in Valhalla to force a playoff and win the PGA Championship. And then came seven months of waiting until the Master.

No one had disputed the four majors at the same time. No one ever had a chance.

All it took was a battle between Phil Mickelson and David Duval, two of his biggest threats, to win what became known as the Tiger Slam.


“To think he had all that pressure on him to win, even though he knows that anything but a victory was, in the scheme of things, a failure, and seeing him finish it still gives him cunning more than 20 years later,” he said. Dave Shedloski of Golf Digest.

While 1997 was historic and 2019 was inspiring, 2001 was all about performance. Golf has never seen anything like it, neither then nor now.

Jim “Bones” Mackay saw him up close. He did caddy for Mickelson, in the final group that day.

“As amazing as he is a player, to face that mentally he had to have a huge amount of gut strength for what he was potentially about to do and will never happen again,” Mackay said. “He had reached a mental point of view that no one had been to before.”

The other two Masters would be memorable to almost anyone else. They received no votes.


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Valuation of Tiger Woods’ most important Masters wins

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