The Greatest Golf Ever Played

Golf Digest and Golf World editors and writers recount Tiger Woods’ dominating win at the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Released on 6/1/2010

Transcript

00:00
(gentle music)
00:07
There's an old phrase about the Open,
00:08
the ultimate examination, and I think it's
00:10
a legitimate way to characterize it.
00:13
It's the most challenging of the four majors.
00:16
It's the most challenging golf tournament in the world.
00:19
There was a lotta talk that Tiger couldn't win
00:21
the U.S. Open 'cause he didn't drive it straight enough.
00:24
He was massively long at the time,
00:28
but the question was could he hit it straight
00:30
enough in a very tight U.S. Open setup.
00:33
That was the one that a lot of people thought
00:35
might be the least likely that he would win.
00:37
So it was always sort of felt that the U.S. Open
00:40
is the one tournament that you can't win
00:41
unless you drive the ball straight, and there were
00:43
people who wondered whether Tiger would ever
00:45
drive the ball straight enough to win a U.S. Open.
00:47
I mean, he was the best player,
00:49
the best golfer in the world, but would he be
00:53
this incredibly dominant player?
00:54
I remember thinking, why did he change his golf swing
00:57
when he had won the Master's by 12 shots?
01:01
He had won only in 99 the PGA Championship at Medinah.
01:05
In terms of what would come later, it was a bit
01:07
of an off year for him in the majors,
01:09
but 2000, he was seemingly on a roll almost from the start.
01:12
He had gone through the period where he had
01:14
remade his game after the Master's of 97,
01:18
finally winning the PGA in 99, but that was death struggle.
01:23
There was Sergio.
01:25
So now we come to Pebble Beach in 2000,
01:28
and if you had said do you think somebody's gonna
01:30
win by double digits this week, it would've been laughable.
01:33
I think even in the week, I do remember,
01:35
there was this ceremony in honor of Payne Stewart,
01:39
and Tiger didn't go to it.
01:41
You come to find out that he didn't want to go,
01:44
he was focusing on what he needed to do,
01:46
what he needed to accomplish that week.
01:49
(pulsing music)
01:50
I was working, finishing up the issue of the magazine.
01:54
I did not fly until Thursday, that day.
01:58
What I'll always remember is I walked into the press center,
02:01
the first guy I saw was John Strege who was
02:03
writing the lead main story for Golf World that week.
02:07
I said, Hey, John, what's goin' on?
02:09
And John said, Tournament's over.
02:11
And I said, What?
02:13
And he said, Tiger shot 65, this tournament's over.
02:16
The 65 had no bogeys.
02:19
He made a couple of par saves.
02:22
He played with Furyk, and I remember talking
02:24
with Furyk about it.
02:24
He said every time he kinda was in a little danger,
02:27
had an eight-footer for par, had to scramble, he made it
02:29
and just kept the round goin'.
02:31
The glue was never loosened.
02:33
First off, I think the 65 took everybody by surprise.
02:38
You don't really expect that in a U.S. Open,
02:41
and if somebody does shoot 65 in the first round
02:44
of a U.S. Open, they don't win the tournament.
02:46
He took the lead in the first round,
02:48
and then just kept building on it and building on it
02:51
and building on it.
02:54
Again, much more so than 1997 at the Master's.
02:59
He seemed like he was playing a different golf course
03:02
than everybody else in the field.
03:04
He was playing from places that nobody else
03:05
was playing from, so that was the first key
03:08
to the combination.
03:08
He was just playing a shorter golf course,
03:11
and he was just in such a beautiful groove
03:13
with his swing, that he was hitting stiff a lot, too.
03:15
More than anything, he was making all his six
03:17
and 10-foot putts.
03:19
Butch Harmon said that he drove the ball
03:20
beautifully that week.
03:22
Steven Williams will tell you that he putted
03:24
incredibly well that week.
03:27
He one-putted 20 of the first 38 holes
03:31
before his triple bogey on Saturday,
03:33
and he responded to that triple on the third hole
03:37
by birdying six, seven and nine, I believe.
03:40
I thought that was actually the moment
03:41
where he was gonna come back to the pack,
03:44
and when he didn't come back, when he shot 71
03:47
with a triple bogey on Saturday,
03:49
obviously at that point, he was making
03:52
a mockery of his competition.
03:53
I think that Tiger got into one of those
03:56
zones that week that are just, you know,
03:58
what happens to great athletes.
04:00
It's like Bill Walton going 21 for 22
04:02
or, you know, it's when you get on one of those runs,
04:06
and he was on one.
04:07
There were over 50 rounds in the 80s that week.
04:09
The best golfers in the world, and they're just
04:12
hanging on by their fingernails, and this guy
04:14
is up by like 10 after three rounds,
04:17
and then it's a victory lap Sunday.
04:20
He just needed to get out on the golf course
04:21
and get started in the final round, and it was over.
04:25
I mean the only way he wasn't gonna win
04:26
is if he missed his tee time, if his car
04:29
didn't show up, if he forgot how to get
04:30
to the golf course that morning.
04:32
He just seemed so focused, and on the last day
04:34
he would win the tournament was well in hand.
04:36
He just didn't seem to want to make a bogey,
04:38
and he was goin' to do whatever he had to do
04:39
to keep that performance flawless.
04:42
That spoke to the makeup of the man
04:45
and the competitor as much as anything else.
04:48
He just didn't want to let it get away.
04:50
In his mind, I don't wanna make a bogey.
04:52
He kinda was playin' almost in his own league.
04:56
I remember he made about a 12-foot par putt
04:58
on 16, and he acted as if he'd just tied
05:02
for the lead or taken the lead.
05:03
He grinded over that putt like it was
05:05
the most important shot he was ever gonna hit,
05:08
and he made it, but when it went in,
05:10
he gave it one of those fist pumps,
05:12
and I was thinking wow, what a reaction to that.
05:14
So I asked him about it afterwards, why such a reaction?
05:19
He said, I started 10 strokes ahead, and I knew
05:22
with such a big lead it was gonna be hard
05:24
to maintain my focus, so my thought for the day
05:27
was to make no bogeys.
05:28
That was my goal.
05:30
I remember watchin' that week saying that
05:33
hey, this is special, guys.
05:35
This is another deal.
05:36
This is a guy who's playing the game perhaps
05:38
like it has not been played, even by myself,
05:41
even by Jack Nicholas, maybe even by Hogan,
05:43
you name the greats.
05:45
A lot of the guys realized what was happening.
05:48
I think it was Nick Price who said, you know,
05:50
I've had my time.
05:51
I feel bad for these other guys.
05:54
The implication was they may never have their time.
05:58
I think that was when the light really
06:00
went on for players that
06:04
we got a long haul ahead of us.
06:06
This guy's gonna be really, really difficult to beat.
06:08
The scoreboard itself at the end
06:10
of this tournament was a picture.
06:13
It told the whole story.
06:14
You have one guy, all of his numbers are in red figures,
06:18
and everybody else are in black figures.
06:21
That is the story.
06:22
As far as an indication on what was happening,
06:24
I think we all knew that Tiger Woods
06:26
was a special golfer, maybe the best ever,
06:28
or was gonna become the best ever,
06:30
but that was like an announcement, you know.
06:32
I'm here.
06:33
This is who you gotta deal with from now on,
06:35
and that was arguably the greatest golf ever played.
06:39
(pulsing music)
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