Tiger Woods is having a stellar of a year; the big cat won his third event in his last 14 outings in 13 months. Woods shot a total of 19-under 261 to keep the local hero Hideki Matsuyama three shots short of him. The event which saw a typhoon on Friday, resulting in a Monday finish saw the thunder of the big cat too.
This one was as unexpected as any of the previous 81. Maybe the most unexpected.
After not shooting a single score lower than 67 since March 2019, Woods opened with three in a row in Japan as he started 64-64-66 to take a three-stroke lead into the final round. From there, it was a wrap.
Woods completed 29 holes on Sunday local before closing out the last seven holes on Monday morning.
“Five days at the top of the board is a long time, man. It was definitely stressful,” said Woods, who is now ranked sixth in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Tiger made his intentions clear to the field starting from the very first round with a 64 and saw Gary Woodland a Captain’s pick hopeful for the upcoming Presidents Cup join him at the top with a matching score. The following day Tiger shot another 64 to remain on top and followed it with a 66 and a 67 to clinch his title no.82. This 82nd win came for him in over 359 starts on the PGA TOUR equaling him to the all-time great Sam Snead who held the record since 1965 (over five decades). While Snead played in 585 PGA Tour events and won 82 of his first 425 (none for the last 18 years), Woods caught him in 359 events.
What makes this win even more significant is that Tiger had a total of 79 wins to his name on August 4, 2013, at the Bridgestone Invitational; he was second-already, after surpassing Jack Nicklaus by six, sitting at 73. It took him over three years and four fusion surgeries on his back to get back to golf and get back with the same energy as before. While his performances cannot be compared to his dominant era where he was much fit and was used to winning 17 times in 1999-2000 alone, a feat which led golf courses to start ‘Tiger Proofing’ themselves. Many courses in the PGA Tour rotation (including major championship sites like Augusta National) have added yardage to their tees in an effort to reduce the advantage of long hitters like Woods; this is a strategy that became known as “Tiger-Proofing”.
What’s next for Tiger? He’s not in the field for this week’s WGC-HSBC Champions. We’ll likely next see him at the Hero World Challenge, which is the week before the 2019 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.
The most exciting part is not that 82 happened but rather that No. 83, 84 and 85 look like they will, as well.
Where a 2020 schedule was looking mediocre, this win makes it more exciting and the viewer’s more hopeful of seeing the G.O.A.T in full action and even making ‘El Tigre’ the favourite to repeat his 2019 Masters win in 2020.
- Most PGA TOUR wins all-time
A CLASS OF THEIR OWN: Snead and Woods are the only players to win more than 80 PGA TOUR titles. Jack Nicklaus is the only other player to win more than 70.
NOTHING BUT A NUMBER: Snead’s 82nd career TOUR title at the age of 52 at the 1965 Wyndham Championship. Woods won his 82nd nine years earlier, at the age of 43. Here’s a look at the age that each player reached various victory milestones.