Commentary

Ranking Tiger's triumphs of past decade

Originally Published: December 28, 2009
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

The decade began for Tiger Woods with a win in Hawaii and ended with another in Australia. Bookend victories for one of the most amazing runs the game has ever witnessed.

Along with way, he won 12 major championships, 56 PGA Tour titles and seven more international crowns.

[+] EnlargeWoods
Andrew Redington/Getty ImagesThe most emotional that golf fans have seen Tiger Woods on the course may have been after he won the 2006 Open Championship just months after his father died.

There were also seven PGA Tour money titles. And two FedEx Cup titles in three years. And then there were seven Vardon Trophies (for low scoring average) and eight Byron Nelson Awards, given to the player with the lowest adjusted scoring average.

How do you pick out the best 10 moments from that?

Well, here is an attempt, in chronological order.

2000 U.S. Open

The final score to this day remains awe-inspiring. Woods won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and was 12 under par, his total of 272 the lowest in tournament history. But more amazing was that nobody else was under par. He won by 15 shots. It was his 20th PGA Tour title and, at age 24, made him the youngest to win so often.

2000 British Open

A month after his U.S. Open romp, Woods did it again across the pond, this time at the Old Course at St. Andrews. The victory margin was not as wide, but still impressive: eight strokes. And he was 19 under, setting the major record in relation to par. The victory put him alongside Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to complete a career Grand Slam.

2000 PGA Championship

A third straight major was the most compelling of all. Woods needed a 31 on the back nine at Valhalla -- including a clutch 6-footer for birdie on the final hole -- to force a playoff with unheralded Bob May. Woods won the aggregate playoff with a birdie and two pars; he and Hogan are the only two players to win three majors in the same year.

2001 Masters

Woods completed the "Tiger Slam" by winning his second Masters, becoming the only player to hold all four professional major titles at the same time. His fourth straight major was his sixth overall.

2002 U.S. Open

When Woods won the "People's Open" at Bethpage, he led from start to finish and became the first player in 30 years to claim the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same season.

2005 Masters

Woods' chip-in for birdie from behind the 16th green was the highlight of the tournament, but his sudden-death playoff victory over Chris DiMarco snapped an 0-for-10 stretch in major championships and gave him his ninth major title.

2006 British Open

Woods defended his title at Royal Liverpool, going around the sun-baked course using just one driver all week. He holed a 4-iron second shot from 212 yards on the 14th hole in the second round for an eagle, and managed to keep DiMarco and Sergio Garcia at bay.

More important, this was Woods' first victory since the death of his father, Earl, in May. He had missed the cut for the first time in a major at the U.S. Open, but bounced back with the victory at Hoylake and then won a month later at the PGA. It was a big year, with eight victories on the PGA Tour.

2007 PGA Championship

His second-round 63 at Southern Hills matched the low round in major championship history, but if his final-green putt had taken one more turn, Woods would have had the record all to himself. In steamy Tulsa, where temperatures hovered around 100 all week, Woods' record-tying second-round score propelled him to his lone major of the year and the 13th of his career.

2008 U.S. Open

Playing his first tournament since the Masters due to what was supposed to be routine arthroscopic knee surgery, Woods was in obvious distress for most of the tournament, but somehow managed to get in contention. His back nine during the third round -- which included two eagles and a birdie -- gave him his 14th 54-hole lead in a major.

But Rocco Mediate held the lead on Sunday until Woods' clutch birdie at the 72nd hole sent it to a Monday playoff, which Woods won in 19 holes. It was Woods' 14th major title, and probably his most impressive. A week later, he had season-ending knee surgery.

2009 Arnold Palmer Invitational

With a lot of questions about his game after an eight-month absence following his ACL surgery, Woods was back in familiar territory at Bay Hill, where he had won five times. But this was just his third tournament back following the layoff, and he found himself trailing by five strokes heading into the final round.

Woods made up that deficit and was tied at the 18th, where his approach came to rest some 15 feet from the pin, in near darkness. Woods buried the putt, his first victory of a PGA Tour season that would see him win six times.

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com