The ‘Tiger Slam’: 20 years on from when Tiger Woods received all of it

2021-04-08 12:37:56

Utilizing his hat to battle again tears, Woods started exhibiting slight cracks in his normally stoic facade as his momentous achievement was sinking in.

In the meantime, a relieved and ecstatic Earl and Kultida Woods had been ready to hug their son as he made his method off the enduring 18th inexperienced at Augusta Nationwide.

Woods is hugged by his father Earl  after winning the 2001 Masters.

And so was born the “Tiger Slam.”

Whereas not the extra conventional “grand slam” in golf — holding all titles in the identical calendar 12 months — the “Tiger Slam” comprised successful the final three majors in 2000 after which the Masters in 2001.

On the time, Woods — a toddler prodigy and seemingly at all times destined to be a star — was enjoying at a stage far above all of his rivals, and past being probably the most identifiable Black participant within the golf world, he was arguably probably the most recognizable identify in sport throughout the globe. In accordance to Forbes, Woods has made $1.4 billion since turning professional in 1996.

But for the younger man from California, none of that appeared to matter.

“It is an eerie calmness. I’ve succeeded in what I wished to perform,” he mentioned in his 2001 Masters coronation ceremony.
The 1964 U.S. Open winner Ken Venturi was extra emphatic in analyzing Woods’ achievement.

“I believe it is the best feat I’ve ever identified in all of sports activities.”

Woods puts on the Green Jacket in 2001 with the help of the previous year's champion Vijay Singh.

Blowing away the competitors

In June 2000, Woods was already a two-time main winner.

In 1997, he grew to become the youngest Masters champion for his debut main victory, ending 12 strokes forward of Tom Kite — the margin of victory continues to be the biggest within the event’s historical past — earlier than successful his second on the PGA Championship in 1999.

He gave the impression to be probably the most well-known individual on the planet and could not go anyplace on the course and not using a throng of followers or photographers documenting his each transfer.

Nonetheless, as a toddler star and underneath his father’s unrelenting steering — particularly in relation to the racism he might face — Woods had realized find out how to put up partitions to mitigate towards the surface noise and strain, in keeping with Jeff Benedict, co-author of the biography on Woods, which fashioned the premise of final 12 months’s HBO documentary.

“His father had really been a sufferer of racism on a extra intimate scale than Tiger,” Benedict instructed CNN Sport. “Earl Woods skilled racism at every step of his life. … And he was schooled by his father about racism. And for his dad, I believe the racial implications of Tiger’s achievements had been crucial.

Woods celebrates after sinking a four-foot putt to win the 1997 Masters.

“All of [the media] was specializing in the racial angle of what Tiger was doing. When there’s that a lot saturation protection, it is unattainable to disregard it, particularly if you end up the middle of it.

“However I believe a part of what makes his achievement so otherworldly is that he did it within the midst of all of this different exterior strain that not one of the different golfers that he was competing towards needed to take care of.”

Not that you just’d have observed that Woods gave the impression to be underneath any undue strain. He dominated from begin to end on the 2000 U.S. Open, securing a outstanding 15-stroke win, the biggest margin of victory in a significant championship in golf historical past.

Woods checked out ease on the notoriously-difficult Pebble Seashore course as his efficiency despatched out an ominous message to his rivals.

Woods holds up the U.S. Open trophy.

Mark Cannizzaro, sports activities columnist for the New York Publish, describes Woods’ domination of the remainder of the U.S. Open subject as “absurd” and “unimaginable.”

“That was actually a type of golf tournaments the place it seemed like everyone else within the subject was enjoying a unique golf course than Tiger was,” mentioned Cannizzaro.

A month later at The Open Championship at St. Andrews, Scotland, Woods confirmed he actually was enjoying at a unique stage to everybody else, successful by eight pictures to say back-to-back majors.

“There’s a level the place he has a lot momentum and he is nearly like a steamroller with a membership. It is nearly such as you’re probably not watching a contest between golfers,” Benedict remembers.

“You are watching Tiger versus nearly nature, as a result of there is not anyone, in these explicit tournaments, there wasn’t anyone else who was even in the identical orbit he was in.”

Woods tees-off on the 13th hole on the Old Course at St. Andrews at the Open Championship.

Pressured to battle

With two majors in his pocket, Woods traveled to Valhalla Golf Membership, Kentucky, for the 2000 PGA Championship with hypothesis intensifying as as to whether one golfer might maintain all 4 main titles on the similar time and obtain the unthinkable.

After two tournaments the place he’d confronted little competitors, Woods had a a lot sterner check at Valhalla from an unlikely supply: PGA Tour participant Bob Could.

Could, who had beforehand performed in solely 4 majors, caught with Woods gap by gap throughout the 4 days. Actually, after the 4 rounds, Could left Woods with a difficult, downhill putt to take it to a playoff.

Nonetheless, reflecting on the event afterward, Could mentioned he “by no means as soon as thought [Woods] was going to overlook it.”

Woods certainly holed the putt to ship the event right into a three-hole playoff.

Woods starts to swing during the PGA Championship.

With the gang celebrating his each transfer, it appeared like Woods’ victory was destined. And win he did, alongside the best way giving us one of the vital memorable moments of the “Tiger Slam,” working and pointing at a rolling ball earlier than the putt really entered the outlet.

It was a victory that had Woods exhibiting a unique facet to his sport, which added one other layer of impressiveness — if potential — to the “Tiger Slam” for Benedict.

“He demonstrated that whether or not he is working away like that or whether or not he is in a contest the place there really is one other golfer who’s neck and neck with him, which provides an amazing quantity of strain and the stakes appear lots larger and the margin of error turns into a lot smaller to have the ability to survive and win, he nonetheless does it.

“In my thoughts, there’s much more strain on him than on the man golfer who’s difficult him as a result of nobody expects the challenger to truly beat him, whereas everyone is anticipating Tiger to do that.”

Woods takes his second shot on the 18th during the third playoff hole in the PGA Championship.

Flying or falling

With eight months between the PGA Championship and the Masters in April the next 12 months, Woods had loads of time to ponder the potential of holding all 4 majors without delay.

Regardless of the strain, Woods felt extra relaxed heading to the occasion in 2001, in keeping with Cannizzaro.

After a gap day the place he completed 5 pictures off the lead, Woods steadily made his transfer up the leaderboard.

By the top of the second spherical, he was two pictures off the lead. By the top of the third spherical, he was main the sector by a shot.

Regardless of a late cost from US golfer David Duval, Woods — adorned in his now well-known purple shirt and black trousers — was capable of create historical past by successful his second Inexperienced Jacket and full the “Tiger Slam.”

Whether or not you had been watching on TV or listening to it on the radio, Woods rolling in that successful birdie putt on the 18th inexperienced at Augusta Nationwide was a type of “I bear in mind the place I used to be after I was watching” moments.

“I believe everyone appreciated that they had been watching one thing unprecedented, one thing that they could by no means see once more — particularly within the trendy period, for somebody to be that dominant, to string collectively that many championships in succession,” Benedict mentioned.

“Tiger was the best golfer we might ever seen.”

Woods celebrates after winning the 2001 Masters.

The strain

In the beginning of Benedict’s biography on Woods, he and co-author Armen Keteyian liken Woods to William Shakespeare, within the sense that the golfer is a “as soon as in historical past” particular person — one we probably won’t ever see once more.

Throughout that incredible 12-month stretch throughout which he was enjoying golf to a stage we have not seen earlier than, the strain was, “an additional piece of baggage that the famous person hauls round that different individuals cannot see,” says Benedict, who provides that Woods developed his personal mindset to manage and permit him to play his personal sport.

“Whenever you get to be that distinctive, it is onerous for even your fellow rivals to fairly admire and perceive the mentality that these few carry to their sport,” Benedict explains.

“Tiger is completely different than everyone else, like LeBron [James] is completely different than everyone else. Competing towards different nice athletes, however there’s the best after which there’s the good ones.

“Whenever you’re the best, and Tiger was the best who had ever performed the sport, he’s at a spot it is unattainable actually for anybody else to completely admire the psychological facet of their strategy to sport.”

Woods' tee shot on the 14th hole at Pebble Beach golf course during the U.S. Open.

As with LeBron James, Tom Brady or Michael Jordan, Woods’ want to win by no means gave the impression to be sated and he was at all times “occupied with the following one,” in keeping with Benedict.

He went on to win two majors in 2002 and 9 extra in complete, together with his memorable comeback victory on the Masters in 2019.

“How do you generate the drive to remain on the highest of the mountain? After you have conquered the mountain and also you personal it, how do you get hungry sufficient to now need to beat down everyone who’s coming as much as attempt to be the following one on the mountain?” Benedict asks.

“There are very, only a few athletes who possess the drive and capability to do this. The historical past and annals of sports activities are affected by nice athletes who obtain championship standing after which are surpassed by the following individual. There are very, only a few who dominate persistently for years like Tiger has.”

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