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

Utilizing his hat to combat 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 have been ready to hug their son as he made his approach 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 profitable the final three majors in 2000 after which the Masters in 2001.

On the time, Woods — a baby prodigy and seemingly at all times destined to be a star — was enjoying at a degree far above all of his rivals, and past being essentially the most identifiable Black participant within the golf world, he was arguably essentially the most recognizable identify in sport throughout the globe. According to Forbes, Woods has made $1.four 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 needed to perform,” he said in his 2001 Masters coronation ceremony.
The 1964 U.S. Open winner Ken Venturi was extra emphatic in analyzing Woods’ achievement.

“I feel it is the best feat I’ve ever recognized 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 remains to be the most important within the match’s historical past — earlier than profitable his second on the PGA Championship in 1999.

He gave the impression to be essentially the most well-known individual on the planet and could not go anyplace on the course with no throng of followers or photographers documenting his each transfer.

Nevertheless, as a baby star and underneath his father’s unrelenting steering — specifically in relation to the racism he may face — Woods had realized the right way to put up partitions to mitigate towards the surface noise and strain, in line with Jeff Benedict, co-author of the biography on Woods, which shaped the idea of final 12 months’s HBO documentary.

“His father had actually been a sufferer of racism on a extra intimate scale than Tiger,” Benedict advised 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 feel the racial implications of Tiger’s achievements have been essential.

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 find yourself the middle of it.

“However I feel 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 cope with.”

Not that you simply’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 exceptional 15-stroke win, the most important margin of victory in a serious championship in golf historical past.

Woods checked out ease on the notoriously-difficult Pebble Seaside 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 Put up, describes Woods’ domination of the remainder of the U.S. Open discipline as “absurd” and “unimaginable.”

“That was actually a type of golf tournaments the place it regarded like everyone else within the discipline was enjoying a distinct golf course than Tiger was,” stated Cannizzaro.

A month later at The Open Championship at St. Andrews, Scotland, Woods confirmed he actually was enjoying at a distinct degree to everybody else, profitable by eight photographs to assert back-to-back majors.

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

“You are watching Tiger versus virtually nature, as a result of there is not anyone, in these specific 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 may 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 Might.

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

Nevertheless, reflecting on the match afterward, Might stated he “by no means as soon as thought [Woods] was going to overlook it.”

Woods certainly holed the putt to ship the match 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 crucial memorable moments of the “Tiger Slam,” working and pointing at a rolling ball earlier than the putt really entered the opening.

It was a victory that had Woods exhibiting a distinct aspect to his recreation, which added one other layer of impressiveness — if attainable — 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 quite a bit increased 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 guy 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 directly.

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

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

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

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

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

“I feel everyone appreciated that they have been watching one thing unprecedented, one thing that they might 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 stated.

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

Woods celebrates after winning the 2001 Masters.

The strain

Firstly 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 almost definitely won’t ever see once more.

Throughout that tremendous 12-month stretch throughout which he was enjoying golf to a degree we have not seen earlier than, the strain was, “an additional piece of bags 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 recreation.

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

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

“If 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 totally respect the psychological facet of their method 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’ need to win by no means gave the impression to be sated and he was at all times “occupied with the subsequent one,” in line with Benedict.

He went on to win two majors in 2002 and 9 extra in whole, 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 wish to beat down everyone who’s coming as much as attempt to be the subsequent 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 suffering from nice athletes who obtain championship standing after which are surpassed by the subsequent individual. There are very, only a few who dominate constantly for years like Tiger has.”

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