Player Feature
Tiger Woods
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The three time Champion Golfer
TigerWoodsTheOpen18SB

At Carnoustie in July, it seemed the whole world was behind Tiger Woods in his extraordinary push for a shock 15th major.

But his double bogey on the 11th dashed any hopes of him adding to his three Open Championships.

Woods, who celebrates his birthday on December 30, has not won a major since the 2008 US Open and eventually shot 71 to finish tied sixth in east Scotland.

He has been golf’s household name for over two decades but his future world domination was forecasted long before his first senior major triumph.

Early beginnings

Introduced to the sport by his golfing father, Earl, who was a single-digit handicap amateur golfer, Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods’ career started at age three, when he shot 48 over nine holes at the Navy’s course in Los Alamitos, where his military dad was based.

He first broke 80 over eighteen holes at age eight and he went on to win the Junior World Championships six times, including four consecutive wins from 1988 to 1991. Woods first broke 70 on a regulation golf course at the age of 12.

He graduated from Western High School in 1994 after winning a flurry of awards and competitions. On the back of this junior success, he was awarded a golf scholarship at Stanford University.

Tiger

At age 19, while at Stanford, Woods participated in his first PGA Tour major - the 1995 Masters - and tied for 41st as the only amateur to make the cut. It was in this season that he made his debut at The Open but despite making the cut, he was not able to win the Silver Medal awarded to the top-scoring amateur.

Woods turned professional at age 20 in August 1996 and immediately signed advertising deals with Nike and Titleist.

He played his first professional golf event at the Greater Milwaukee Open, where he tied for 60th place and recorded a hole-in-one.

Major breakthrough

Before he arrived at St. Andrews for the 2000 Open, he had already won three majors - the 1997 Masters, where he set 20 Masters records and tied six others, the 1999 PGA Championship, and the 2000 U.S Open, where he broke the record for the largest margin of victory - 15 strokes - which is also the record for all majors.

In June 1997, in only his 42nd week as a professional, Woods rose to number one in the official World Golf Ranking, the sport’s quickest-ever ascent.

When he won the 2000 Open, the records continued to tumble.

He became the first golfer since Tom Watson in 1982 to win the U.S. Open and The Open in the same year. He became the youngest player to win all four majors, and the fastest, too.

But it would take five years, a coach change, and some swing adjustments for Woods to return to the top of The Open’s leaderboard, despite winning a raft of other majors in the interim period.

At his favoured St Andrews in 2005, Woods pulled away from Colin Montgomerie to claim his tenth major.

He backed up that victory a year later, this time at the Royal Liverpool.

Emotional Tiger

His decision to use only long irons off the tee was vindicated by his wondrous precision – he missed just four fairways all week – and his score of 18 under was just one off his major record of 19 under.

An emotional Woods sobbed in his caddie’s arms as he won, dedicating the victory to his father - his mentor and inspiration, who had recently died.

Injury troubles

Wood has only won three of his 14 majors since that 2006 victory in the Wirral, and his performances at The Open have mirrored his struggle with form and injury.

In 2008, despite recording the last of his major victories in that year’s US Open, he did not play due to injury, while in 2009 he missed the cut - by one shot - for the first time at The Open.

After missing the 2011 tournament due to injury, Woods managed two top-ten finishes in 2012 and 2013, but then missed the cut at the 2015 tournament.

Injury ruled him out of the 2016 and 2017 tournaments until his remarkable comeback in 2018.

After a steady first two rounds at Carnoustie, Woods came to life in the third.

He carried his momentum into the final round, where he temporarily held the lead in the tournament, but he was unable to hang on.

He finished tied for sixth, his best finish in a major since 2013.

Carnoustie renaissance

Regarding his Carnoustie revival, Woods said: “I had a great opportunity. I know it's going to sting for a little bit here - but given where I was to where I am now, I feel blessed.

“It felt great to be a part of the mix and build my way into the championship. It was a blast.

“I was saying earlier that I need to try and keep it in perspective because, at the beginning of the year, if they'd have said you're playing The Open Championship, I would have said I'd be very lucky to do that.”

Woods capped off an impressive comeback year by winning the Tour Championship in the FedEx Cup play-offs finale at East Lake Golf Club. Tiger finished 11-under for his first PGA Tour win since 2013.

After four back surgeries, Tiger is on the right path to discovering his major-winning form.

But could he add to his three Open Championships with victory at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland in 2019? If he continues this rejuvenation, he must be considered a contender.