As the greatest golfer of modern times, Tiger Woods has won 15 Major Championships in his career. Such are his talent and determination that he has been able to overcome a string of setbacks and personal problems to return to the course and compete with the very best.
At one time, the presence of Tiger Woods at a tournament would dramatically shift the golf betting odds and for a long period in the 2000s, he was unstoppable. Even now, at the age of 46, he remains impressive, and his latest comeback was particularly remarkable.
In February 2021, Woods was involved in a horrific car accident. The accident left him with multiple leg injuries and broken bones. He was away from the golf course for months, and there was some debate over whether he would return, but the doubters should have known better.
Woods marked his return to action in the best possible style, by making the Masters his first competitive tournament after the accident. He showed up remarkably well over the first two days, making the cut before fitness and lack of competition practice caught up with him over the weekend. It will obviously take him a long time to get back to the level at which he wants to compete, but the last few years have surely taught us that you write him off at your peril.
2019 Masters reminder
It is, after all, only three years since Woods returned to Major-winning form by claiming his fifth Masters’ title in 2019. Having won his previous Major at the 2008 US Open, he successfully bridged a gap of 11 years, a remarkable achievement.
Many believed Woods’ days of success in the major four events were finished prior to his victory at Augusta. Instead, on a golf course where Woods has often played his best, he outperformed the field over four days in Georgia. On the last Sunday, he was up against Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka, but none of them could match Woods’ performance.
That victory, according to Woods, was the finest of his career. He wasn’t sure whether he’d ever have another experience like it, but his sheer talent was enough to carry him through the doubts and to overcome the accumulated disappointments and physical pain of multiple injuries.
The pinnacle of golf Major success is to match the record of 18 held by Jack Nicklaus. Woods is still three short of that level and time is running out for him to get there, but we should not forget just how dominant he was early in his career, and just how easily the game seemed to come to him.
Woods won his first Major in 1997 and his second in 1999, but dominated in 2000, winning the PGA Championship, the Open and the US Open. He won three Majors in 2002, 2005 and 2006 and his tally after the 2022 Masters reads: 5 Masters, 4 PGA Championships, 3 US Opens and 3 Open Championships. No player of his generation comes close to matching that level of success, and the third player on the all-time list, Walter Hagen, won the last of his 11 Majors back in 1929.
Woods for Open success?
The Open is not the next Major on the calendar, but it would perhaps be the most fitting venue for Woods to return to Major-winning form in 2022, as this year, it is being staged once again at the famous old St Andrews course where he has enjoyed some of his biggest successes.
Woods has claimed the Open Championship on three occasions. In 2000, he won the Claret Jug for the first time at St Andrew’s. His performance in Scotland that week was widely regarded as one of the most dominant in Major Championship history. He ended with a -19 score, eight shots better than the rest of the field.
It’s rare for an Open to be dominated as Woods did in 2000. However, five years later he did it again. In 2005, the American returned to the home of golf, where he won at the Old Course for the second time. Despite the fact that the margin of victory was not as wide as it could have been, he clearly relished the challenge posed by one of the most famous courses in the world.
Many consider Woods’ victory at Augusta National in 2019 to be the greatest sporting comeback in history, but a 16th Major Championship victory at St Andrews might topple that historic achievement.