SSOMG could not put together a list of Sports Stories of My Generation without including Tiger Woods, certainly one of the legends of our time.
SSOMG touched on one of Tiger’s greatest victories in Story #15 – The Masters. But Tiger’s story is much more than just his latest major-tournament victory. Reading his life’s story up to now is a bit like riding a roller-coaster at Magic Mountain; so many fabulous “ups” and a dizzying numbers of “downs”.
Brian and I attended the 2006 tournament at Torrey Pines, in what was to be his 47th PGA Tour Title. Hard to believe that was 14 years ago. Woods won on the 74th hole that year, after ending regulation in a tie with Nathan Green and Jose Maria Olazabal. I remember going back to the tee box on the first extra playoff hole. Since it was a playoff, very few people had hiked all the way back out to see the tee shots, but I remember how nice it was to be on the same playing field, sort of like being part of the action. I also remember one of the spectators who ventured back to the tee box was his always-recognizable mother…
Tiger has eight championships at Torrey Pines, which equals his victory total at Bay Hill and at Firestone in Akron. But of course most of us will remember his most memorable victory at Torrey, the 2008 US Open.
Woods, playing on a broken leg with a torn ACL, birdied the 72nd-hole to force an 18-hole Monday playoff with Rocco Mediate. Three up through 10 on Monday, Woods needed another birdie at the 18th to extend the playoff to sudden-death. On the first extra hole, his 91st of the week, Woods finally put away his third U.S. Open and his 14th major. I suppose I will always regret the decision to not make the 30 minute trip down the freeway that Monday to be part of history. My recollection is that tickets were available to anyone for the memorable playoff with Rocco; you did not have to be a ticket-holder for the first 4 rounds…oh well, there you go.
Tiger is now 45 years old. He has won 82 PGA tournaments, tying him with Jack Nicklaus. He has won 15 major championships. He is generally regarded as one of the best, if not the best professional golfer of all time. Tiger has also suffered through 8 major knee and back surgeries, and a very difficult and well-publicized divorce. During his rehab stints, he has gone from being ranked #1 golfer world-wide, to falling out of the top 100…but he always seems to turn it around, and make the climb back to the top, a witnessed in his 2019 win at the Masters. It will be interesting to see what the future is for Tiger Woods, after this forced-time off for non-essential sports….SSOMG hopes to see Tiger back on the links soon, and for many years to come.