Commentary

Tiger's hat slam was a Bay Hill beauty

Updated: August 6, 2009, 5:27 PM ET
By Jason Sobel | ESPN.com

Exactly one year ago, Tiger Woods was on the verge of history at Bay Hill Club & Lodge, site of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Seeking his fifth straight PGA Tour victory, fifth career win at this event and 64th title overall -- a number that would tie him for third all-time with Ben Hogan -- Woods had 24 feet standing between him and success on the final hole. What happened? Let's allow Tiger to provide the play-by-play.

"The great thing about the last hole, that was my best swing I made all week with the 5-iron I hit in there. The wind had totally switched. It was blowing off the left on 17, in off the left and now was in off the right on 18. So hit a 5-iron up there and held just a flat hill hold shot and felt great. I gave myself a putt at it. ...

"I was so excited the 5-iron I hit in there to give myself a putt at it. You have to understand, I had not hit the ball well the last three days, and then to have that shot with everything on the line, to hit a shot and give myself a putt at it; you saw Stevie [Williams] and I celebrate in the fairway, I was so fired up I hit the shot the way I wanted to. ...

Tiger WoodsChris Condon/US PGA TOURTiger's dramatic tourney-clinching putt would have never happened unless he hit this crisp 5-iron shot into the 18th green at Bay Hill.

"I felt good over the putt, and I also said, I did it in Dubai, downhill left-to-righter, there's no reason why I can't do it again. ...

"You know, all week I kept telling myself, don't leave yourself a second putt, obviously with the nature of these greens, they were not running too smooth. Like what happened at the 10th hole, I ran it by and that was probably the driest green of it them all and I missed a come backer and that's one of the reasons why I needed to really concentrate on my speed and make sure I didn't leave those putts. That's what I kept trying to tell myself on 18: Don't leave yourself a second putt. Make sure you get your speed right and so if it does miss, it's just a tad. ...

Tiger WoodsDavid Cannon/Getty ImagesDid Tiger think he'd make the putt for his fifth straight PGA Tour victory? No doubt.

"I was so into the moment of the putt going in and winning the golf tournament. I kept telling myself, I've done this before, I did it against Phil, and this time it's a little bit deeper into the green and the putt has a little bit more break and it has a little more grain; I've done it before and I can do it again. ...

"I was just trying to make sure I got the speed right. Now that green has a little bit more grass on it, and the grain has a little bit more effect on it, and I gave it just a little bit more. I hit the putt down there, and it took forever to start breaking and for the grain to start taking it. But once it started taking it, it went straight right and went in the hole.

"I had a good feeling probably six or seven feet in, once the grain started taking it and slinging it to the right. Once it got going to the right, it got more down grain and once it got going down grain, it was going to run out. ...

Tiger WoodsAP Photo/J. Pat CarterHow did Tiger's caddy Stevie Williams get Woods' hat? Tiger himself didn't even realize he had slammed his lid to ground after draining his birdie putt on No. 18 at Bay Hill.

"You know, when Stevie handed me my hat, I was like, 'How in the hell did he get my hat?' Evidently, it came off. I don't know how it came off, but it came off. ...

"I have to say it's [the ultimate feeling] knowing that you have an opportunity to end the tournament and it's in your hands, not anyone else's; it's in your hands. Whether you do it or not remains to be seen, and it's like having the ball with a few seconds to go; do you want it or not want it. I would much rather have it in my hands than anyone else's. ...

"I don't know where it ranks, but it got me a victory."

Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor, ESPN.com
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004.