PGA Win Earns Tiger Woods New Stripes

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On a sultry Sunday afternoon at a course carved out of sandy hills and ringed in bluegrass, Tiger Woods stamped his footprint on the pages of golf’s history books, a place reserved only for the game’s most revered characters.

Woods joined the legendary Ben Hogan as the only players to win three major titles in one year when he won the fifth major of his career by capturing the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club by one shot over Bob May in a three-hole playoff.

The 24-year-old Woods not only became the first player to win consecutive PGA Championships in 63 years, but he also equaled Hogan’s 47-year-old standard of three major victories in one year.


Woods’ score of 66-67-70-67 and 270 total earned him his seventh PGA Tour victory this year. No one else has won more than three times this year.

Hogan won the Masters, the U.S. Open and the British Open in 1953. He did not enter the PGA Championship because the event overlapped with qualifying for the British Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, which was held the second day of the PGA at Oakland Hills in Birmingham, Mich.

Woods, who won the 1999 PGA Championship, was fifth at the Masters, then he won the U.S. Open in June and the British Open in July before successfully defending his PGA Championship.

Woods said equaling Hogan’s record was not his intention.

“I felt my game would bring me to the point where I would contend for major championships,” he said. “It’s up to the golf gods to see if I could get lucky or not.”

Woods’ accomplishments are unprecedented. He has won four of the last five major tournaments, a better ratio than Hogan’s six wins in nine majors from 1948 to 1953.

When Woods won the British Open four weeks ago on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, he became the youngest player to win each of the sport’s four major tournaments--the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA.


Only Hogan, Gene Sarazen, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Woods have won all four major championships, a so-called “grand slam.”

Nicklaus, who was 26 when he accomplished the feat in 1966, is the player to whom Woods is most often compared, but he had one fewer major victory than Woods at the same stage of his career.

Nicklaus is regarded as the greatest player of all time, but even acknowledges that Woods is well on his way to assuming that role.

“At this point, what he is doing right now, I think he is a better player than I was,” Nicklaus said.

From 1962 to 1986, Nicklaus won a record 18 major championships.

Woods has said his goal is to become the greatest golfer in history. When he was a youngster growing up in Cypress, Calif., Woods taped to his bedroom wall a paper on which Nicklaus’ records were printed.

But the first two rounds of the PGA Championship at Valhalla marked the first time Woods and Nicklaus had played together in a competitive round. Nicklaus, 60, said Woods makes golf appear easy.


“I don’t think I have ever seen anybody do what he is doing that much within himself. He doesn’t have to extend himself at all to do what he is doing,” Nicklaus said.

As usual when Woods plays these days, the accolades pour in from the icons of the game. Tom Watson won eight major titles and was the most dominant player in the game from 1977 through 1984 when he won 33 tournaments.

Watson, now a regular on the senior tour, said he is happy to be able to tell his grandchildren that he saw Woods play. “He has raised the bar higher than anybody,” he said.

Few have been able to challenge Woods in recent major golf tournaments. Woods has either owned or shared the lead in seven consecutive rounds and 11 of the last 12 rounds.

Even though he has not yet completed his fourth full year as a professional, Woods already owns scoring records at three of the four majors. He won the U.S. Open by 15 shots in June at Pebble Beach Golf Links. In the 1997 Masters, Woods won by 12 shots and his British Open victory was by eight shots.

The pairing of Nicklaus and Woods for the first two rounds of the PGA Championship was widely regarded as a symbol of the changing of the guard of golf’s hierarchy.


“I am passing the baton, which I think has been passed long before this,” Nicklaus said. “I couldn’t pass it to a nicer young man who is obviously the cream of the crop right now. By a mile.”