Over 40 days, GOLF.com is rolling out Tiger Woods’ 40 biggest moments. Our ranking started on Nov. 21 and will culminate on Dec. 30, which is Tiger’s 40th birthday. That’s 40 Tiger moments. In 40 days. Ranked. Click here to learn more about our list.
Tiger’s 40 Biggest Moments: No. 27 – Winning Back-to-Back Masters in 2002
By age 26, been-there-done-that moments were piling up for Tiger Woods. One feat he hadn’t accomplished, however, was repeating as Masters champ. Only two players had ever gone back-to-back at Augusta, Jack Nicklaus in 1965-66 and Nick Faldo in 1989-90. On April 14, 2002 Woods ticked another box by defending the title he had captured in 2001. It had all the suspense of a church bake sale.
During a rainy, mud-stained event that forced Woods to play 26 holes on Saturday, on a golf course that had been “Tiger-proofed” (again), with trees planted and nine holes lengthened, no one had any answers for golf’s dominant Number 1.
By Saturday night, a dream leaderboard had emerged, with Woods and 2001 U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen (World No. 4) tied at the top at 11-under-par 205, followed by four others ranked in the top 7, Vijay Singh (7th) , Ernie Els (3rd), Sergio Garcia (5th) and Phil Mickelson (2nd). By Sunday night, it was a dream deferred for everybody except Woods.
On a dull final round with little movement at the top, Woods dropped an enormous wet blanket on the field. His 71 was sufficient to down Goosen by three and Mickelson by four, but it may as well have been 13 and 14, so complete was his beat-down. “You just know Tiger is not going to make any big mistakes,” said Goosen, whose three-putt bogey at the first hole set the stage for failure, as Woods was opening with par-birdie-birdie.
Added a dazed Mickelson, “When other guys are up there, you know that if you can just stay around there, there’s a good chance they might come back two or three shots. But Tiger doesn’t seem to ever do that.” After Woods chipped in for birdie from behind the green at the par-3 6th, everybody was playing for second — yet again.
Check back on GOLF.com every day until Tiger’s birthday on Dec. 30 for a new moment in our [email protected] countdown.
No. 30: Ugly Breakup With Steve Williams
No. 33: Relationship With Lindsey Vonn
No. 35: A Shot in the Dark at Firestone
No. 36: Television Debut at Age 2