Much like the second half of 1997, 1998 was a year to forget for Tiger Woods. He just won one tournament on the PGA Tour which was the BellSouth Classic. His best results in the 4 majors was a 3rd place finish at The Open Championship. Many believed that Tiger was a flash in the pan who had lost the motivation and hunger to win after the money he had made and his first majors win. In reality, though, Tiger was undergoing major experiments with his swing and was using the year to find the best option for him along with his coach Butch Harmon.
Keeping true to his word Tiger bounced back in 1999 and absolutely dominated the tour. The most memorable win for the year came in the final major of 1999, the PGA Championship which was held in Illinois. The course at 7,401 yards was the longest on the circuit. Sergio Garcia, the 19-year-old Spaniard was Tiger’s closest competitor here and the two fought a battle which would be remembered for ages.
Sergio had the lead after day 1 with Tiger 4 shots behind, Tiger was 2 shots ahead after Day 2 and both hit 68s on day 3 as Tiger entered the final day tied at the top of the leaderboard with Mark Wier.
He played a brilliant first half to the day. A birdie on the 11th meant he had a 5 stroke advantage over Garcia. And then the Spaniard started his comeback. A long birdie putt on the 13th was followed by a glare cum stare to Tiger, almost informing him that if he wanted to win this he had to play better.
The highlight of the day came during the 4 par 16th by when Woods lead had been restricted to a mere single shot. Garcia’s ball was behind the trees when he hit a remarkable broom-like-stroke to manoeuvre the ball out of the trees, he proceeded to follow it by making little scissor kicks, he was having fun and the crowd was lapping it up! Ser-Gio, Ser-Gio the crowd went who seemed to have decided whom they wanted to win.
Tiger hit a par of the 17th to seal the deal and he won the championship by a single stroke with a 277, 11 under par. For Tiger, his second major tasted sweet as all the changes he had made to his swing had paid off. He later commented that he had looked at the videos of his first major win in 1997 and realised that he had won simply because of his timing, his swing needed major changes if he needed to sustain in the game, this was indeed a matured Tiger that the world was witnessing.
Many hoped at that time that Tiger-Sergio would form the rivalry around which the golfing world would evolve for the next decade. Tiger fulfilled his bit winning multiple majors, but Sergio till date waits for his first.