2000: Hal Sutton couldn’t wait to knock off Tiger Woods at the Players Championship

This story on Hal Sutton’s win at the 2000 Players Championship first appeared in the April 3, 2000, issue of Sports Illustrated.

When they get around to writing the history of golf in the 21st century, last week’s Players Championship may assume a prominent place in the narrative. Hal Sutton’s victory, 17 years after his first Players title, will rate a footnote as the moment when he completed his return to the front ranks of the game. Of more lasting significance will be whom he beat, and how. Tiger Woods strutted into Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., fresh from an alarmingly easy win at the Bay Hill Invitational, his third W of the year and his 10th in 16 starts. Woods had been making such a mockery of the competition that the day before the Players, Colin Montgomerie, No. 3 in the World Ranking, made a stunning admission: “After the first round last week, when Tiger shot 69, the view in the locker room—without anyone saying it out loud—was [that] the tournament was finished. It was like, Who is going to finish second?” This was a concession best left for a late-night chat with a sports psychologist, but by going public, Monty touched off a heated debate.