Sixty-one! Who does Tiger Woods think he is, Roger Maris?
Woods flirted with history Friday while manhandling both Firestone Country Club and an elite field of the world’s best players, eventually shooting a nine-under-par 61 on the second day of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Seven shots clear of the field, Tiger’s outright dominance reminded us of just how great he was, is and always will be. His sizzling second round also reminded us of some of his most unforgettable feats on the golf course.
As for Firestone, should he go on to win, it would mark the eighth time he has done so on this course, an amazing feat all on its own.
Tiger has revived himself once again this year, returning to his rightful spot as the No. 1 golfer in the world, winning four times already, earning a pair of top-10 finishes in the majors and now giving notice that he is still the most dangerous competitor every time he tees it up.
No one in the modern golf age has given us as many dramatic celebrations as Tiger. So where does Friday's thrill-ride rank among the best of his best? Read on to find his 10 greatest feats.
No. 10: 2009 Memorial Comeback
Woods entered Muirfield, the home that Jack Nicklaus built, and made himself right at home. On yet another course on which he has dominated, Tiger entered the 2009 final round trailing by four shots. Woods showed uncanny resilience, hitting all 14 fairways on Sunday, punctuated by a chip-in for eagle on the par-five 11th to finish with a 65 and a one-stroke victory over Jim Furyk for his fourth Memorial title.
No. 9: 2006 Deutsche Bank Championship
"Impossible" has never been in Woods' vocabulary. Woods was en route to his fifth consecutive win in 2006 when he overpowered Vijay Singh in dramatic fashion. Beginning the day trailing Singh by three, he quickly passed him with a birdie barrage, closing with a scorching 63 and a two-shot victory.
No. 8: 2013 Bridgestone Invitational Round of 61
In Friday’s round, he flirted with 59 and then suddenly began settling for pars at holes 16 and 17, only to come back on 18 with a scrambling par that covered the entire breadth of the hole. Ultimately, it was Woods' putting that set him apart, as he only needed 22 putts all day and made almost everything inside of 10 feet. Seven shots ahead of his closest competitor, Woods is no stranger to leading at Firestone. In 2000, he led by eight strokes when he not only shot another 61 on this course, but went on to win by a tournament-record 11 strokes. Today marks the fifth time in his career that he's shot 61.
No. 7: PGA Championship Final Round
Everyone remembers Tiger’s classic stance as he pointed to his ball dropping in the cup after a 20-foot putt on the first playoff hole of the 2000 PGA Championship. But, it took a lot more than that to capture the Wanamaker Trophy. In a bid for his third major of the year, after wins at Pebble Beach in the U.S. Open and St. Andrews in the British Open, Tiger began the final day at Valhalla Golf Club one shot ahead of little-known Bob May. So it looked like Tiger had it wrapped up. The 31-year-old May was seeking his first-ever victory and he pushed Tiger all day, shooting seven-under par over the last 12 holes just to force a three-hole playoff. By the time the two had completed 72 holes, they were five shots clear of the field and tied at 18-under, which remains tied (with Woods' 2006 PGA win at Medinah) for the record low score in relation to par.
No. 6: 2000 AT&T Pebble Beach Charge
Trailing Matt Gogel by seven shots with seven holes to play, Woods did the unthinkable. He finished eagle-birdie-par-birdie to shoot 64 and win by two. This was also the sixth win in his remarkable streak and served as the precursor to his win at the U.S. Open in June of that year.
No. 5: 2008 U.S. Open victory on One Leg
For sheer drama, nothing ranks higher. Playing on a knee that would later be reconstructed and two stress fractures in the same leg, Tiger defied his anatomy and the tough Southern California course, Torrey Pines, to defeat Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole playoff. Mediate’s gritty play forced Tiger to sink a late, desperate birdie—maybe the longest 15-foot putt he has ever had to make—on the 72nd hole in order for them to face off on Monday, leading to what is currently Tiger’s “last” major victory.
No. 4: 1994 U.S. Amateur Epic Comeback from Six Holes Down
This is where the legend truly began. Tiger’s comeback win borders on the impossible: six down after 13 holes of the 36-hole match-play final, five down with 12 holes remaining and three down going into the final nine. Tiger entered an unconscious zone and just kept making putt after putt in order to beat Trip Kuehne from Oklahoma State in arguably the greatest comeback of his glory-filled career.
No. 3: 2005 Masters, with Pitch at 16 and Beating Chris DiMarco in Playoff
If you hadn’t seen it, you wouldn’t have believed it. But you did see it. Everyone has. Perhaps the greatest and most clutch shot in golf history. It was on the par-three 16th hole where Woods pulled his tee shot left and seemingly two or three strokes from the cup. Instead, he chipped in a winding, ebbing shot that broke at least 20 feet and took forever to get to the cup only to then hang on the lip and, as if it were fate, drop in.
No. 2: 1997 Masters
Sheer domination on the most prestigious stage in golf by a 21-year-old virtuoso may be the only way to view Tiger's 12-shot victory at Augusta. He began unassumingly with a 40 on the front nine and then backed up with a 30. With momentum forever Tiger's ally, he followed his scorching back-nine 30 on Thursday with rounds of 66, 65 and 69. Tiger’s victory was so commanding that it led to a change in future course layouts, ushered in a new influx of players and changed the way the world viewed golf forever.
No. 1: The Tiger Slam (2000-2001)
This is not a singular feat, but a combined effort that may never be matched. Bobby Jones made the Grand Slam famous by winning all four major golf tournaments of his era in the same calendar year. Tiger won his own Grand Slam, beginning with the U.S. Open in 2000 and finishing with the Masters in 2001. There are only four other golfers that have won career Grand Slams: Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.