He's not completely out of it! Tiger Woods--and Phil Mickelson, the closest thing he has to a rival--will both begin their final rounds at the Masters seven shots behind surprise leaders Kenny Perry and Argentina's Angel Cabrera. Perry, at 48, is chasing his own bit of Masters history: if he holds on to win the green jacket, he'll beat Jack Nicklaus' record of being the oldest player to win the tournament, which the Golden Bear did inspirationally in 1986 at 46. Perry will also become the oldest player to win a professional major.
But back to Tiger. Can he do it? He's never won a major championship when he wasn't leading or tied after 54 holes. He's come from behind to win, but only at regular tour events. Assuming that Perry doesn't wilt and slightly extends his lead, Woods would need to shoot a spectacular round, something in the mid-60s--or lower!--if he wants to claim green jacket number five.
Of course, this is a man of moments. In major golf competition, we last spotted him nabbing the U.S. Open trophy while playing on a broken leg. The famous back nine at Augusta is set up on Sunday to induce eagles, so there are four of the seven shots that Woods' need to catch Perry. Has the guy turned in some great moments at Augusta? Um, the answer would be: YEAH!
He won by 12 shots to claim green jacket number one In 1997, Tiger blew away the field to win his first major and announce himself to the golf world. The course was different then--shorter and more forgiving--and Tiger had his way with it. No victory has every had such a significant impact on golf course design, as over the ensuing decade Augusta National was "Tigerproofed."
In 2005, he made seven birdies in a row OK, it was Saturday, during a rainy Masters that saw the second and third rounds squashed into a single day. But Woods needed to shoot a score, and so he did, getting himself in position to...
Make the greatest chip-in birdie in the history of the game How did it go in? In 2005, after missing the green on the 16th hole, a par three, and looking as if he was going to fade and allow Chris DiMarco to win his first green jacket, Woods studied a chip that he would have to play about three counties outside the hole. It rolled. It rolled and rolled and rolled. It took the slope. It trickled toward the pin. It hung on the lip, seemingly one revolution from tumbling in. Augusta National held its breath. Then Bobby Jones reached down from the Big Clubhouse in the Sky and nudged it in, making sure the Nike logo on Woods' ball was blazing in the Georgia dusk. The place went nuts. Woods went on to win in a playoff.
He wins the 2001 Masters, completing the "Tiger Slam" Only an opening round 75 the year before kept Woods from winning the calendar year Grand Slam in his most dominant year ever. This was also a great Masters for Woods from a competitive standpoint, as he beat David Duval, a former world Number One, and Phil Mickelson down the stretch.
He and Mickelson play trade-the-green-jacket Phil nabs his first Masters victory in 2004, so the next year, when Tiger wins, Phil get to help Tiger don the green jacket. The following year, Phil wins again, and Tiger does the honors, leading some to speculate that Tiger and Phil would be engaged in this verdant, sartorial to-and-fro for a while. Didn't turn out that way, but you could tell Tiger was happy to have a real rival at last, even if he and Mickelson aren't exactly BFFs.
Obviously, if Tiger manages to pull off a win this year, it will take either a phenomenal performance or a complete meltdown from the leaders. Maybe a little of both. But if he pulls this one off, it would be a Masters moment to exceed all others.