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

Using his hat to struggle again tears, Woods started displaying slight cracks in his normally stoic facade as his momentous achievement was sinking in.

Meanwhile, a relieved and ecstatic Earl and Kultida Woods have been ready to hug their son as he made his approach off the long-lasting 18th inexperienced at Augusta National.

Woods is hugged by his father Earl  after winning the 2001 Masters.

And so was born the “Tiger Slam.”

While not the extra conventional “grand slam” in golf — holding all titles in the identical calendar yr — the “Tiger Slam” comprised profitable the final three majors in 2000 after which the Masters in 2001.

At the time, Woods — a toddler prodigy and seemingly at all times destined to be a star — was taking part in at a degree far above all of his opponents, and past being essentially the most identifiable Black participant within the golf world, he was arguably essentially the most recognizable title in sport throughout the globe. According to Forbes, Woods has made $1.4 billion since turning professional in 1996.

Yet for the younger man from California, none of that appeared to matter.

“It’s an eerie calmness. I’ve succeeded in what I wanted to accomplish,” he mentioned in his 2001 Masters coronation ceremony.
The 1964 U.S. Open winner Ken Venturi was extra emphatic in analyzing Woods’ achievement.

“I think it’s the greatest feat I’ve ever known in all of sports.”

READ: A Tiger’s trek: The life and occasions of golf’s largest star
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 turned the youngest Masters champion for his debut main victory, ending 12 strokes forward of Tom Kite — the margin of victory continues to be the biggest within the match’s historical past — earlier than profitable his second on the PGA Championship in 1999.

He appeared to be essentially the most well-known particular person on the planet and could not go wherever on the course and not using a throng of followers or photographers documenting his each transfer.

However, as a toddler star and underneath his father’s unrelenting steerage — particularly in relation to the racism he might face — Woods had realized learn how to put up partitions to mitigate towards the skin noise and stress, in accordance with Jeff Benedict, co-author of the biography on Woods, which fashioned the idea of final yr’s HBO documentary.

“His father had truly been a victim of racism on a more intimate scale than Tiger,” Benedict advised CNN Sport. “Earl Woods experienced racism at each step of his life. … And he was schooled by his father about racism. And for his dad, I think the racial implications of Tiger’s achievements were very important.

Woods celebrates after sinking a four-foot putt to win the 1997 Masters.

“All of [the media] was focusing on the racial angle of what Tiger was doing. When there’s that a lot saturation protection, it’s inconceivable to disregard it, particularly when you’re the middle of it.

“But I think part of what makes his achievement so otherworldly is that he did it in the midst of all of this other external pressure that none of the other golfers that he was competing against had to deal with.”

Not that you just’d have seen that Woods gave the impression to be underneath any undue stress. He dominated from begin to end on the 2000 U.S. Open, securing a exceptional 15-stroke win, the biggest margin of victory in a significant championship in golf historical past.

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

“That was really one of those golf tournaments where it looked like everybody else in the field was playing a different golf course than Tiger was,” mentioned Cannizzaro.

A month later at The Open Championship at St. Andrews, Scotland, Woods confirmed he actually was taking part in at a unique degree to everybody else, profitable by eight pictures to say back-to-back majors.

“There is a point where he has so much momentum and he’s almost like a steamroller with a club. It’s almost like you’re not really watching a competition between golfers,” Benedict remembers.

“You’re watching Tiger versus almost nature, because there isn’t anybody, in those particular tournaments, there wasn’t anybody else who was even in the same orbit he was in.”

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Woods tees-off on the 13th hole on the Old Course at St. Andrews at the Open Championship.

Forced to battle

With two majors in his pocket, Woods traveled to Valhalla Golf Club, Kentucky, for the 2000 PGA Championship with hypothesis intensifying as as to if one golfer might maintain all 4 main titles on the identical time and obtain the unthinkable.

After two tournaments the place he’d confronted little competitors, Woods had a a lot sterner take a look at at Valhalla from an unlikely supply: PGA Tour participant Bob May.

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

However, reflecting on the match afterward, May mentioned he “never once thought [Woods] was going to miss 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 group celebrating his each transfer, it appeared like Woods’ victory was destined. And win he did, alongside the best way giving us some of the memorable moments of the “Tiger Slam,” operating and pointing at a rolling ball earlier than the putt truly entered the outlet.

It was a victory that had Woods displaying a unique aspect to his recreation, which added one other layer of impressiveness — if attainable — to the “Tiger Slam” for Benedict.

“He demonstrated that whether he’s running away like that or whether he’s in a competition where there actually is another golfer who is neck and neck with him, which adds a tremendous amount of pressure and the stakes seem a lot higher and the margin of error becomes much smaller to be able to survive and win, he still does it.

“In my thoughts, there’s much more stress on him than on the guy golfer who’s difficult him as a result of nobody expects the challenger to truly beat him, whereas all people is anticipating Tiger to do that.”

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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 following year, Woods had plenty of time to contemplate the possibility of holding all four majors at once.

Despite the pressure, Woods felt more at ease heading to the event in 2001, according to Cannizzaro.

After an opening day where he finished five shots off the lead, Woods gradually made his move up the leaderboard.

By the end of the second round, he was two shots off the lead. By the end of the third round, he was leading the field by a shot.

Despite a late charge from US golfer David Duval, Woods — adorned in his now famous red shirt and black trousers — was able to create history by winning his second Green Jacket and complete the “Tiger Slam.”

Whether you were watching on TV or listening to it on the radio, Woods rolling in that winning birdie putt on the 18th green at Augusta National was one of those “I bear in mind the place I used to be when I used to be watching” moments.

“I believe all people appreciated that they have been watching one thing unprecedented, one thing that they might by no means see once more — particularly within the fashionable period, for somebody to be that dominant, to string collectively that many championships in succession,” Benedict said.

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

Woods celebrates after winning the 2001 Masters.

The pressure

At the start of Benedict’s biography on Woods, he and co-author Armen Keteyian liken Woods to William Shakespeare, in the sense that the golfer is a “as soon as in historical past” individual — one we most likely will never see again.

During that amazing 12-month stretch during which he was playing golf to a level we’ve not seen before, the pressure was, “an additional piece of bags that the famous person hauls round that different folks cannot see,” says Benedict, who adds that Woods developed his own mindset to cope and allow him to play his own game.

“When you get to be that distinctive, it’s exhausting for even your fellow opponents to fairly respect and perceive the mentality that these few convey to their sport,” Benedict explains.

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

“When you’re the greatest, and Tiger was the greatest who had ever played the game, he is at a place it’s impossible really for anyone else to fully appreciate the mental aspect of their approach to sport.”

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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’ want to win by no means appeared to be sated and he was at all times “thinking about the next one,” in accordance 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 stay on the top of the mountain? After you’ve conquered the mountain and you own it, how do you get hungry enough to now want to beat down everybody who’s coming up to try to be the next one on the mountain?” Benedict asks.

“There are very, very few athletes who possess the drive and capacity to do that. The history and annals of sports are littered with great athletes who achieve championship status and then are surpassed by the next person. There are very, very few who dominate consistently for years like Tiger has.”

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