Tiger’s start to 2001 was average considering the lofty standards he’d set in the last couple of years. A 4th place finish at the Buick International was his best result in the first 5 tournaments of the year. But as approached the majors season, Tiger turned into a “Tiger” storming to consecutive wins at the Bay Hill International and The Players Championship.
Up next on the Road was the Masters where Tiger had won his first major in 1997. As always, the Masters was the only major which was held at one course only irrespective of the year, the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.
On Day 1, Tiger had an uncharacteristically poor start as he was 5 shots away from the lead as he shot a 70. On Day 2 things restored to normal as he was tied for 2nd at the end of the day with a cumulative score of 136 over the two days, Chris DiMarco held a 2 stroke lead at the top.
Day 3 witnessed another sub 70 score as Tiger shot a 68 claiming the lead at the top of the leaderboard. Phil Mickelson was in 2nd, aiming to stop Tiger from making history by becoming the first man to hold all the four majors at the same time (Since he had won 2000’s Open, US Championships and the PGA Championships).
On Sunday the pressure was high but Tiger played a remarkable day of golf. A second straight four under par meant that Tiger finished the day at 68 again for a total of 272. David Duval finished 2nd, two strokes behind, and Phil faded in the last 3 rounds to finish 3 strokes behind. Tiger’s birdie on the final round was his 23rd over 4 days, truth be told there was never any doubt after Day 2 on who would win here.
This marked Tiger’s 6th major and 27th PGA Tour victory out of his 98 starts. Remarkably, he was 6-0 while leading a major after 3 days of the championship which meant if Tiger was leading the board after 54 rounds all bets were off!
At the time only Tiger seemed to have any idea about the magnitude of his achievement. He said he was amazed to have played so well when he needed to do so. He remarked “To win four in succession, that’s hard to believe, There are so many things that go into winning a major championship, or for that matter, any tournament. More so in a major, because you have to have your game peaking at the right time. On top of that, you’ve got to have some luck. To have it happen four straight times, some of the golf gods are looking down on me the right way.”
Tiger might have given the credit to the almighty but much of the golfing world was not surprised. He was expected to head into the Masters and become the first player in history to have all the four major trophies in his kitty at the same time. For it to be taken for granted that a 25-year-old would achieve this impossible dream was an indication of how high had Tiger set the bar for himself in the world of professional golf.