After a lacklustre 1998 Tiger was out to prove in 1999 that he belonged with the elite of the game, that he wasn’t just a flash in the pan and that 1998 was merely a year which he’d spent focusing on improving his swing and technique with his coach rather than winning laurels on the course.
He started the year well enough with a 5th place finish at the Mercedes Open, he went a couple of steps better and was 3rd at the Phoenix Open where he grabbed the headlines for different reasons altogether. From a tee shot Tiger’s ball was struck behind a giant boulder. The “loose impediment ruling” came into play as 15-20 men volunteered to remove the obstacle.
Tiger’s first win of the season came in the 1999 Buick Invitational where he shot a 266 over 4 days to secure a 2 shot win over Billy Ray Brown. He was 22 under par over the course. He finished 18th at the first Major of the year, the Masters. His second win of the year, his 9th on the pro circuit came from Muirfield Village at the Memorial Open where he scored 273 was a 2 stroke win over Vijay Singh.
He was third at the second major of the year, the US Open. This was followed by a victory at the Western Open where a 15 under par for 273 was enough to secure the 10th professional win of his career. The Open Championship major yielded a 7th place finish but at the following PFA Championship Tiger secured the second major of his career following a titanic battle with 19-year-old Sergio Garcia.
The year-end saw the most amazing run of form for Tiger as he won not 1, not 2, not 3 but 4 tournaments back to back! These were the WGC-NEC Invitational (270, 10 under par, 1 shot lead over Phil Mickelson), National Car Rental Golf Classic (271, 17 under par, 1 shot lead over Ernie Els), Tour Championships (269, 15 under par, 4 shot lead over David Love III) and the WGC-American Express Championship (278, 6 under par, playoff win against Miguel Ángel Jiménez).
It was pure dominance on the golf course. He won 8/21 PGA tournaments he competed in, 8 wins in a single year was a feat last achieved in 1974 by Johnny Miller. He also won the PFA Player of the Year and the more renowned PFA Tour Player of the Year (for which the Players themselves vote), not that his peers had much of a choice given the year Tiger had!
In the process he also first man to amass more than $6 million in winnings in a single year on the tour closing the year pocketing more than $6.6M compared to the previous highest of $2.6M of David Duval the previous year, the gap was a clear indicator of the benchmark that Tiger was setting for the rest of the field.
From March 1999 (when Tiger lost the Number 1 Ranking to David Duval) till August 15, 1999, Tiger and Duval traded the number one positions a couple of times. When Tiger regained the spot in August no one knew that he was about to embark on the longest run at the top that the game had ever seen.