Greatest Sports Accomplishment: Tiger Woods Wins U.S. Open By 15 Strokes
The U.S. Open is designed to put even the best golfers in the world to the test. As seen in recent years, the United States Golf Association has done just that.
Flashback to the year 2000. Tiger Woods entered the 2000 season with two major victories on his record. He would leave the season with five, but none were more impressive than his victory in the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
In the Open, Woods either set or broke nine U.S. Open records. His total score of 272 tied Jack Nicklaus (1980) and Lee Janzen (1993) for the lowest total score. In 2003 Jim Furyk would also tie the record.
Woods would set a record for most strokes under par in 72 holes, going 12 under par. This score of -12 gave Woods a record margin of victory, not only at the U.S. Open but all major championships, winning by 15 strokes. His margin of victory broke Old Tom Morris's record, which stood since 1862.
Along with the records, Woods also became the all-time career money leader on the PGA Tour with his win.
What makes this one of the greatest accomplishments in sports, is not the records, but the fashion of which it was done. On his final 18 holes, Woods failed to bogey a hole. In the U.S. Open, that is unheard.
Woods took the hardest major championship in golf and turned Pebble Beach into his personal playground.
Sports Illustrated called Tiger's performance in 2000 U.S. Open, "the greatest performance in golf history."
It can be argued that Woods already achieved the greatest accomplishment in sports and golf when he won his first Masters in 1997 by 12 strokes. This made him the first African-American and Asian-American to put on the famed Green Jacket.
However the Masters is not the U.S. Open.
The '97 Masters was not "Tiger Proofed" yet. That didn't come until later years when they started lenghtening the course. The U.S. Open is constantly changed and designed to make the best in the world, look like everyday hackers.
In 2000, it was Woods, not Pebble Beach, that made the rest of the PGA look like amateurs. Even with a 10 stroke lead heading into Sunday, Woods was not ready to cruise to a title.
He wanted more.
He played the last 26 holes without a bogey. He went all week without a 3-putt, went bogey-less in the first 22 holes, and bogeyed just six holes all week to go along with 21 birdies.
Ironically, Tiger Woods gave his best major performance in the same U.S. Open that Nicklaus would say farewell to the tournament.
Woods defeated Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez that year, who both finished three over par, giving Tiger a wire-to-wire victory. He led after the first round by just one stroke, but led by six after round two, and 10 after round three.
Hale Irwin was the only other golfer other than Woods in 2000 to shoot two rounds in the 60s. He opened with a 68 and ended with a 69. His second and third rounds were a 78 and 81, though.
The win the 2000 U.S. Open opened a new chapter in golf and in the career of Tiger Woods.
In the 2000 Open Championship at St. Andrews, Woods won by eight strokes and set a record for lowest score from par in a major at -19. He would win the 2000 PGA Championship in a playoff over Bob May at Valhalla Golf Club.
His three majors that season made him just the second ever player to win three majors in one year. He joined the legendary Ben Hogan, who won three in 1953.
After the 2000 season, Woods was named the twelfth best golfer in history by Golf Digest and the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year for the second time. At the time, he was the first person to receive that honor twice.
His 2000 adjusted scoring average of 67.79 and his actual scoring average of 68.17 were the lowest in PGA Tour history, besting his own record of 68.43 in 1999 and Byron Nelson's average of 68.33 in 1945.
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