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Column: Ranking Tiger Woods’ most important Masters wins | Sports



AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Five wins 22 years aside, one similarity: A pink shirt beneath a inexperienced jacket.

Tiger Woods gained his first Masters 25 years in the past this week, a watershed second in golf as the primary participant of Black heritage to win at Augusta National and the style through which he destroyed the sphere like no different earlier than him or since then.

Equally exceptional, if no more, was his fifth inexperienced jacket in 2019 after Woods returned from 4 surgical procedures on a decrease again — the final one to fuse his backbone — in such dangerous form that he feared he may by no means have the ability to play once more.

In between was his most historic Masters victory — the Tiger Slam — when Woods made it a clear sweep of the 4 skilled majors in a span of 294 days. The feat stays his alone.

The hottest shot in televised historical past on the Masters? That could be his chip on the sixteenth gap in 2005 that scooted up the ridge, down the slope and paused on the sting of the cup for a full second earlier than tumbling in for birdie.

And when Augusta National super-sized the course in 2002 — 9 of the 18 holes had been lengthened within the greatest overhaul in membership historical past — Woods turned solely the third participant to win back-to-back.

So which win was probably the most vital?

The query was posed to 25 individuals — principally media, some gamers and some caddies — and the end result was resounding.

1997 (15 votes)

“He scared a lot of people away. Definitely, the first one,” three-time main champion Padraig Harrington stated. “Anyone who performed that week should have felt, ‘Oh my god. How can I beat this?’”

It’s sure to get plenty of attention this week as the 25-year anniversary of a Masters where Woods made his professional debut by breaking 20 records, including the margin (12 shots) and score (270) and his age (21).

The victory came two days before the 50-year anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball, adding to the significance. The late Lee Elder, who became the first Black golfer to play in the Masters in 1975 — the year Woods was born — was among those watching it unfold.

And yet it drew as many comparisons with Jack Nicklaus as Jackie Robinson.

“Tiger’s win on the 1997 Masters was a one-two punch not like something golf had seen earlier than, or has seen since,” said Michael Bamberger, a longtime golf writer and author now at golf.com. “It was breathtaking as an athletic assertion and as a social one.”

Most of the panelists referred to it as a second that modified the panorama of golf, a second in time that outlined a brand new period. There have not been lots of these.

Gary Van Sickle, a longtime golf author for Sports Illustrated now with the web website “Morning Read,” in contrast the ’97 Masters with Secretariat profitable at Belmont for the Triple Crown.

“The most significant event in American golf since Francis Ouimet won the U.S. Open,” he said.

2019 (6 votes)

No stranger to surgeries, mostly on his left knee, the back was a bigger problem. Woods could barely make it up the stairs to the Masters Club dinner on Tuesday night in 2017, and there were second-hand conversations that he was done. The pain was too great.

And then he had fusion surgery. By the end of 2017, he looked better in the Bahamas. He challenged at Carnoustie in 2018, and the comeback was seemingly and remarkably complete when he won the Tour Championship. All that was missing was a major.

Max Homa said the “younger me” may need picked 1997 for the best way it modified golf.

“But ‘19 is the most amazing thing to me, as an adult who plays this game, understanding how hard it is whether you’re healthy or not,” he stated. “That was the closest to emotional I ever got watching a golf tournament.”

Emotion was an enormous a part of it. The gamers, a few of them Masters champions of their inexperienced jackets, waited for him exterior scoring. Throaty chants of “Tiger! Tiger!” resonated throughout the course, perhaps all of Augusta.

“It was a phenomenon that transcended sports and attracted the attention of people from all quarters who were riveted by the themes of revival, resurrection and redemption,” stated Bill Pennington of the New York Times.

Joel Beall of Golf Digest noticed it by means of a wider lens. Woods turned a rock star in 1997 with a win that transcended sport. Over the subsequent twenty years of giving followers dominance on the course and disappointment off it, Woods has change into “so human it hurt.”

“His 2019 win meant the most because it was a win that was shared.”

2001 (4 votes)

As a lot as his ’97 win reshaped golf, no stretch of golf was extra dominant that when Woods gained the U.S. Open and British Open in 2000 by a mixed 23 photographs. He made what he considers probably the most clutch putt of his profession on the 18th gap at Valhalla to pressure a playoff and win the PGA Championship. And then got here seven months of anticipation till the Masters.

No one had ever held all 4 majors on the similar time. No one ever had an opportunity.

All it took was a battle down the again 9 with Phil Mickelson and David Duval, two of his greatest threats, to win what turned often known as the Tiger Slam.

“To think that he had all that pressure on him to win — while knowing that anything but a victory was, in the scheme of things, a failure — and watching him finish it off still boggles he mind more than 20 years later,” stated Dave Shedloski of Golf Digest.

While 1997 was historic and 2019 was inspiring, 2001 was all about efficiency. Golf has by no means seen something prefer it, then or now.

Jim “Bones” Mackay noticed it up shut. He caddied for Mickelson, within the ultimate group that day.

“As amazing a player as he is, to come to grips with that mentally had to take a tremendous amount of intestinal fortitude for what he was potentially about to do and will never happen again,” Mackay stated. “He had gotten to a mental standpoint no one had been to before.”

The different two Masters could be memorable to only about anybody else. They obtained no votes.

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