Tiger: 10 shots that rocked the world

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Tiger’s career has been defined by miracle shots that most other players wouldn’t even contemplate, let alone attempt. Here is our shortlist of his very best.

Top 10 Shots

Second shot, 16th hole, final round

It’s the final 18 holes of a tournament he prizes above nearly all the rest. He is playing alongside his closest challenger – Chris DiMarco, a player who will not give up. DiMarco birdies at 11, 14 and 15 have reduced the gap to one, and he has another makeable birdie putt at 16. Woods, meanwhile, faces a tantalizingly tough chip that appears impossible to get close. But he hits a superb shot, aimed well wide of the flag, that behaves exactly as he plans. The ball edges slowly toward the hole, the noise from the gallery growing with every roll. It reaches the cup, pauses on the edge, and drops in. It’s almost perfect: the only things missing were that it had actually been played before with much the same result (Davis Love in 1999) and that it wasn’t the 72nd hole of the tournament. Other than that, it had everything.

 

Top 10 Shots

Second shot, 18th hole, second round

Early Saturday morning, after heavy rain had prevented play on Friday, at the 457-yard 18th, Woods found a fairway bunker on the left, the ball close to the left edge and forcing him to stand an inch or two closer to the ball than normal. He had 202 yards to the hole, uphill and with a 20mph wind blowing left to right. He would need to get the ball up quickly to clear the lip and trees, then hook it into the wind despite the ball sitting a couple of inches below his feet. He tooka 3-iron and clipped the ball so perfectly it rose, soared, hooked and plummeted to Earth 15ft left of the hole. “It was one of those magical moments when everything comes together,” said Woods. He made the putt of course, but could only finish the championship in second place a shot behind Rich Beem.

Tiger Woods

Top 10 Shots

Fourth shot, 18th hole, final round

How could a holed 12ft putt be higher on the list than a holed 4-iron from 209 yards, or a fairway bunker shot from 216 that finishes 18ft from the hole? When it has to cross a poa annua green so uneven and bumpy the ball barely stays in contact with the ground, and when it must go in to earn a spot in a play-off for the US Open. Woods reached the 72nd hole at Torrey Pines needing a birdie to tie Rocco Mediate on one-under-par. His drive found a bunker, his second shot the rough. His third finished to the right of the hole leaving him the tricky 12-footer he had to make. Like Seve Ballesteros’ birdie putt on the 72nd hole of the 1984 Open Championship, Woods’ effort never looked like it was going in, until it caught just enough of the hole and stayed down. Woods would win the play-off after 19 holes the following day.

Top 10 Shots

Second shot, 14th hole, second round

Hoylake was burned to a crisp for the 2006 Open, making the fairways difficult to hold. Woods sensed early in proceedings that distance was not going to be nearly as important as keeping the ball in play, so he clubbed down on nearly every tee, hitting a long-iron or 3-wood for safety. After a 2-iron off the tee at the 14th on Friday, he was left with 209 yards slightly uphill to the hole. What little breeze there was drifted across the hole from the right and Woods held a tiny fade up against it, the ball pitching on the front right of the green and taking a couple of hops before finding the bottom of the cup. Two days later, he would win his third Claret Jug and 11th major title.

Tiger Woods

Top 10 Shots

Second shot, 6th hole, first round

The amazing thing about a Tiger Woods ‘top 10 shot’ list is that two people could come up with two entirely different, but valid, lists with not a single common shot between them. In rejecting a dozen or more candidates, we not only came down in favour of his shots at the majors, but also shots that only Tiger Woods and a handful of others could ever hope to hit. This is such a shot. In thick rough to the right of the fairway, Woods faced an uphill shot of 202 yards into the wind and over a large cypress tree. Instead of hacking out at a 45-degree angle and leaving a simple wedge to the green, Woods took a 7-iron and muscled the ball out so ferociously, it cleared the tree, climbed the hill and ran onto the front of the putting surface. “It’s just not a fair fight,” said NBC’s Gary Koch. He would birdie the hole and go on to win by 15 shots! 

Top 10 Shots

Second shot, 9th hole, first round

Yes it was only Thursday, and no he didn’t go on to win the tournament, so it’s not his most momentous shot perhaps. But it is one only a select number of players could hit so impressively. In the first cut to the left of the fairway, Woods needed to hook the ball 30 yards around several pines. After shooting off low to avoid some branches, the ball needed to rise in order to clear the front bunker. He hit it perfectly, the ball pitching halfway up the green and running up the hill to finish just a few feet from the hole. “It was a shot of pure genius,” said the BBC’s Ken Brown.

Tiger

Top 10 Shots

Second shot, 18th hole, final round

After finding a fairway bunker to the right of the 508-yard closing hole at Glen Abbey, Woods was left with 216 yards to the pin. Locked in a duel with New Zealand’s Grant Waite who was just one shot back and in the fairway at the par 5, Woods needed something special to prevent a play-off. His unbelievable 6-iron shot carried the lake in front of the green and rolled off the back, 18ft from the hole. Waite missed his eagle try, leaving Woods two simple putts for his ninth victory of the season and 24th of his career.

Top 10 Shots

Second shot, 17th hole, third round

The 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship, is a 9-iron or wedge for the world’s very best players. It should be simple, a piece of cake. But, of course, the green is an island in a lake giving it a huge psychological shield. It’s not just the mental barrier that players need to overcome though. Even the green itself has some major borrows thanks to a ridge that begins at the front centre of the putting surface and curls off to the left as it extends towards the back. In the third round, Woods’ tee shot finished just a few feet from the back edge of the island. The putt was 60 feet downhill over the ridge, and fast. It broke right to left, crested the ridge and started falling back to the right. Then it caught the right edge of the hole and dove in. The following day he would shoot 67 and beat Vijay Singh by a shot.

Tiger Woods

Top 10 Shots

Second shot, 16th hole, final round

Five years after his first miraculous chip-in at the 14th, Woods managed it yet again but this time from 10 yards further back, hitting a flop that went just as high as it did long, pitched just on the green and ran into the hole. But he didn’t win that year, and said he got very lucky. So it didn’t make the list. His chip-in at the 16th in 2012 certainly does though. Starting the day four strokes behind the leader, Spencer Levin, Woods was still standing two back on the 16th tee. His 7-iron flew the green leaving him with an awkward chip back down the hill, and the brand new pond waiting for anything overhit. Woods said the lie was ‘marginal’ but the ball came out perfectly, landed softly on the edge of the green and rolled slowly down toward, and into, the hole. “What a shot,” Jack Nicklaus said. “I don’t think under the circumstances I’ve ever seen a better shot.” Woods went on to win by two.

Top 10 Shots

Fourth shot, 14th hole, final round

Woods arrived at the 14th tee at the Ottawa Civic Centre one shot ahead of playing partner Vijay Singh. No one else was in the picture. His long-iron tee shot found the right side of the fairway but his sand wedge second flew the green, leaving him an almost impossible shot from a tough lie down a glassy hill to the hole, with water waiting just a few yards beyond. He tried a flop shot, but the club went underneath the ball sending it just a couple of yards. Staring a five or six in the face, he calmly landed his second greenside shot just a few feet onto the green and watched it trundle down the hill, curl round to the left and drop into the cup for a par. Woods won his first Memorial by two.

Tiger