Tiger Woods almost didn't have the balls to win the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
Yes, he won by an incredible 15 shots. It wasn't even close. So why, you ask, do I dare say he didn't have the balls?
Because he almost ran out.
Golf balls! What were you thinking?
According to a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle by Ron Kroichick, Steve Williams, Tiger's caddy, recounted an interesting story about that 2000 U.S. Open. Woods and Williams were on the 18th tee at Pebble Beach on Saturday. That day was rainy and foggy, and there had been a rain delay earlier.
Woods drove his tee shot into Carmel Bay, then let some choice words loose that NBC captured for the viewing audience.
Williams reached into the golf bag and felt around. One ball was all he found. Without saying anything to Tiger he handed Woods the ball. He then told Tiger, "I'd like you to hit an iron, just to get it into play."
Woods already had a big lead by the end of the round Saturday. There was little reason to be aggressive, yet there was also little reason for Woods to suddenly alter his play and start playing ultra-conservative.
Woods hit a driver. He put it in play.
Williams, meanwhile, had been planning on running to the pro shop for more balls if Woods had hooked another one into the Bay.
Apparently Woods had taken three balls out of his bag in the hotel room the night before to practice putting, and had forgot to replace them.
When Woods found out the story later, he thought he would have been disqualified.
But he wouldn't have. According to USGA rules he could have borrowed a ball from his playing partner if it was the same brand and type. If it wasn't, Williams could have run to the pro shop, or had someone run to the pro shop for more balls. It would have resulted in a two stroke penalty. Tiger still would have won easily on Sunday.
Ironically, Woods didn't have the balls to win the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach yesterday, but that's another story.