The sporting world was rocked by the shock headlines that 15-time major winner Tiger Woods was involved in an almost fatal car crash in Los Angeles last February. Luckily the American survived the single-car accident, but even when in a stable condition, it was feared that the legendary golfer’s career was over once and for all.
Woods has overcome so much throughout his lengthy playing days, but surely this was a step too far — especially with the talk of him potentially having to have his leg amputated. But the 46-year-old has once again fought in the face of adversity and excitement is rife as speculation that he is going take part in this year’s Masters circulates.
The rumour mill has been in overdrive since Woods was recently spotted playing a practice round at the iconic Augusta National with his son Charlie and fellow professional and close friend Justin Thomas. While he certainly wouldn’t be one of the favourites in the odds for golf Masters 2022 if Woods is to tee-up on April 7th, it would be great just see him back in action.
So, with the golfing community on tenterhooks as they wait the confirmation of Tiger’s decision, read on as we take a look back at some of his most iconic moments at the Masters…
1997: Maiden Green Jacket
Where better to start than with Woods’ first Masters triumph in 1997? At just 21 years of age, the American roared to a commanding victory at Augusta National.
Two under after the first round, Tiger blew away the rest of field with sensational rounds on Friday and Saturday — impressively scoring 66 and 65 to open up a nine-shot lead.
A three-under round on Masters Sunday extended his advantage at the top of the leaderboard to 12 strokes and Woods sent records tumbling — with the largest margin of victory in a major and the lowest score Masters history (-18). Dustin Johnson has sent beat that score though, shotting -20 in 2020.
2002: Back-to-back victories
Winning successive renewals of the Masters is no easy feat. In fact, prior to 2002, only Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo had completed that task and nobody has been able to do again in the two decades since Woods’ back-to-back victories in 2001 and 2002.
In 2001, the 49-year-old headed to Augusta with the chance to become the first golfer to ever win the US Open, Open, PGA Championship and Masters simultaneously — and he duly delivered, winning a second green jacket. The incredible achievement was dubbed the ‘Tiger Slam.’
Not content with that though, Woods returned to Augusta in 2002 and retained his title. Tied for first with Retief Goosen going into the final round, Woods shot just one under on Masters Sunday. But that was enough for a third green jacket as his South African rival recorded a two-over round.
2005: Play-off victory
The 2005 Masters is arguably the most iconic renewal of the tournament in its history. A record seven consecutive birdies in the third round gave Woods a three-shot lead heading into Sunday’s play, with Tiger expected to run away with it in the final round.
However, still boasting that advantage, Woods capitulated somewhat on the back nine. A bogey on the 10th and four consecutive pars allowed Chris DiMarco to close the gap to one stroke. A sensational chip at the 16th avoided another dropped shot, but bogeys on each of the last two holes meant a nail-biting play-off with DiMarco.
Replaying the 18th, DiMarco secured a par with a close-range putt — which looked set to be enough to at least force another play-off hole. However, Woods would sink a 15-foot shot for birdie to rubber-stamp his fourth Masters triumph. The putt and subsequent celebrations are still shown time and again to this day.
2019: Fifth Masters
Injuries and issues in his personal life had derailed Woods’ career somewhat and he never looked like the original Tiger throughout the course of the 2010s. But something just seemed to click out of the blue at the 2019 editions of the Masters.
With Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari and Tony Finau all finding Rae’s Creek at 12th — carding double bogeys — Woods was allowed back into the running. A birdie on the 13th pulled him level and back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th gave him a two-stroke lead.
Knowing that he could drop to no more than one shot at the last on the last, Woods played the 18th carefully — two-putting for bogey and getting his hands on a fifth green jacket, his first since that emphatic victory in 2005. It was also his maiden major triumph since winning the US Open in 2008.