If anyone thought that the year 1999 brought out the best in Tiger Woods and that golf would resume to being the competitive sport it was then they were highly mistaken. Tiger started off the year as he’d ended the previous one with a win at the season-opening Mercedes Open. The World Number 1 continued his fine form by winning the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am next. Another win at the Bay Hill Invitational meant that by the first major of the year The Masters took place Tiger had won 3/7 tournaments he’d taken part in and finished 2nd in 3 more. The Masters ended in disappointment as two balls in the water on the first day meant a score of 75 from which he could never really recover. He bounced back winning the Memorial Open before heading towards the second major of the year, the US Open.
The US Open, held in Pebble Beach, California that year witnessed a stunning display of talent from the master. Aged 24 Tiger mesmerized the world of Golf with an exhibition of first rate drives, deft chips and precise putts. At the end of a foggie day 1, Tiger had a one-stroke lead over Miguel Ángel Jiménez as he shot 65 for 6 under par.
On Day 2, he shot 69 further stretching his lead to 6 strokes at the top. The total of 69 was good, but what actually made it great was the treacherous conditions in which all the other competitors suffered. On Day 3, in even more difficult conditions he hit par, his total stood at 205 for 8 under par. However, his lead was now an astonishing 10 strokes over Ernie Els as Miguel had slipped out of the reckoning due to his performance over the day. The 10 stroke lead was the highest by any competitor in the tournament’s history after Day 3.
Tiger started Day 4 with 9 consecutive pars, birdies at 12, 13 and 14th followed and a par on the 18 meant that he had shot a bogey-free 67 on Day 4. Tiger had won his 3rd major and his first US Open by practically steamrolling the rest of the field. The difference in the levels of performance was thrilling for the history bookkeepers as the records kept tumbling, but was embarrassing for his opponents.
Tiger finished the tournament with a total score of 272 for 12 under par, his score tied with Jack Nicklaus, Lee Janzen and Jim Furyk as the lowest scores in history at the US Open, his margin of victory was 15 strokes over Els and Miguel.
NBC analyst Roger Maltbie rightly said that Tiger was playing golf practically from another planet and that this was not a fair fight! Ernie Els said that playing a major like this was a dream of his, but perhaps the most complete tribute came from competitor Mark O’Meara who said
“It’s hard to believe that there’s ever been a player who could drive it, cut it, draw it, hit it high, low, has the short game, putting, the mental toughness. If you were building the complete golfer, you’d build Tiger Woods.”
Till date, Tiger’s victory margin of 15 strokes remains the highest among the 4 majors on the golfing circuit.