Tiger Woods is back and, while not better than ever, he’s pretty good for a 43-year-old whose body has endured several major surgeries. His victory at the 2019 Masters and fine form heading into the 2019 US Open got Jack Green and Tom Bowles thinking: which is Tiger’s greatest win ever?

It was too hard to pick one, so they narrowed it down to seven and ranked them in order, taking the following criteria – difficulty, narrative and legacy – into consideration.

Each category was marked out of five – five being the best, one being the worst – with the highest score winning out.



Difficulty – 3

Narrative – 3

Legacy – 2

Total - 8

Bob May never won a PGA Tour event. Before 2000, he had only played in one major, finishing 74th at the 1998 Open.

Tiger Woods had won five times in 2000 prior to the PGA Championship, including both the US Open and Open Championship.

At Valhalla, they met in one of the great Sunday duels in major history.

Tiger Woods idolised May – an excellent junior golfer – as a youngster, and the pair both shot 31 on the back nine in an incredible battle.

It went to a playoff, and Woods holed one of the most famous putts of his career – a 15-footer that he chased into the hole, pointing at it the entire way.

That birdie sealed the win, which was the third step towards the 'Tiger Slam', when he held all four majors simultaneously.



Difficulty – 3

Narrative – 5

Legacy – 1

Total - 9

It had been 286 days since Tiger had last claimed victory at the 2008 US Open (more on that shortly), and golf had missed him.

PGA Tour ratings were down 46.8 per cent in the second half of the 2008 season from the previous year, with the star of the sport sidelined after knee surgery.

It seemed the wait for his next victory would continue when he went into the last round at Bay Hill – where he had already won five times – five shots behind.

But a Sunday charge saw him catch leader Sean O'Hair, before he rolled in a 16-footer to seal the win.

It was the third time Woods had won with a birdie putt on the 18th at Bay Hill.

This wasn’t a major, but it was pretty close.



Difficulty – 3

Narrative – 5

Legacy – 2

Total - 10

Tiger’s triumph at Royal Liverpool was one of firsts. In winning, he became the first golfer since Tom Watson in 1982-83 to win back-to-back Opens. More significantly, it was Tiger’s first major since his father, Earl, died of a heart attack two months earlier.

Without Earl, there wouldn’t be an Eldrick Tont Woods – that much is obvious. But there also wouldn’t be a Tiger.

It was Earl who introduced his son to the game aged two. It was Earl's career in the US Army allowed his son to hone his prodigious talent on the nearby Navy golf course in their hometown of Orange County, California. It was also Earl, a veteran of two tours of Vietnam, who helped instil in Tiger the determination, focus and drive that would enable him to become golf’s greatest ever player.

All that and more was going through Tiger’s mind when, upon holing his final putt, he fell into the arms of his caddie, Steve Williams, and sobbed. The sight of a bereaved son grieving for his father was poignant, but also remarkable given Tiger was previously renowned for his stoicism. For the first time in his professional life, the world saw Tiger not as a golfer, but as a human.



Difficulty – 4

Narrative – 3

Legacy – 4

Total - 11

It’s Sunday at Pebble Beach. And it’s brutal.

The wind is swirling. The rough is swallowing up errant drives. The greens are rejecting even the more tentative approaches.

Of the 63 players who made the cut, 62 are over par.

Several of them can’t remember their last birdie.

All of them know they're beaten.

Tiger Woods is 12-under par.

He wins by 15.



Difficulty – 3

Narrative – 5

Legacy – 4

Total - 12

It's rare that a victory for arguably the greatest golfer of all time can be considered an underdog story.

But this one, Tiger's fifth at Augusta and first ever after being behind on the final day, was just that.

Two years earlier, Tiger had told friends at the Champions’ Dinner that he “was done”, his body broken from multiple surgeries to both his knee and, more recently, his back. He couldn’t swing a club, let alone compete for the game’s biggest prizes.

But an operation that fused his spine first eased the pain he was in and, eventually, enabled him to return to golf.

It was inconceivable, though, that more than a decade after his last major and deep into his 40s, he’d contend again.

Except it wasn’t, as Tiger spent his 2018 contending at the 2018 Open Championship and US PGA Championship, before triumphing at the season-ending FedEx Cup.

Then came the 2019 Masters, as he intelligently plotted his way around Augusta to claim a one-shot victory and complete not just an underdog story, but the greatest sporting comeback of all time.



Difficulty – 4

Narrative – 4

Legacy – 5

Total - 13

Augusta is meant to be hard.

It’s where years of grinding, of learning the intricacies of pin positions and ultra-fast greens, is supposed to pay off.

It’s not a place where you win in just your third appearance.

So much for that.

A 21-year-old Tiger – red Nike sweatshirt three sizes too big, hairline two inches lower than it is now – strolled into one of the sport’s toughest venues and won by 12.

After a nervy start in which he was four shots over par after nine holes on Thursday, he surged clear and finished on a Masters record -18.

It wasn’t his grittiest major victory, or even his most commanding performance. But it was the first, and it showed that the game was about to change.




Difficulty – 5

Narrative – 5

Legacy – 4

Total - 14

He won golf’s toughest major on one leg. On one leg.

He played 72 holes, then an 18-hole playoff, then won in sudden death. On one leg.

When it became clear that no player could beat Tiger at his best, his own body had a go at stopping him.

Playing with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a stress fracture in his tibia, the world No. 1 opened with a double-bogey and struggled early on, but soon surged up the leaderboard, where he met Rocco Mediate.

Mediate, a charismatic PGA Tour journeyman who won six times in his career but no majors, more than held up his end of an epic duel that lasted 91 holes.

Tiger had to dig deep, twice sinking long birdie putts on the 18th hole to force a playoff and then send it to sudden death.

A par on the 91st hole sealed Tiger's 14th major. While it was clear that his injuries would keep him out for a while, it was inconceivable that it would be 11 years until he won another.

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