The Masters: Remembering the 'Tiger Slam' 20 years on from Woods' unmatched moment of history

By Sports Desk April 08, 2021

What's the greatest achievement in the history of sports?

Is there a more difficult question for any fan to answer? It's such a subjective and divisive topic, and one that cannot truly be measured.

But that doesn't mean it's not fun to argue the toss nonetheless and on this day 20 years ago, Tiger Woods staked his own claim for the moniker by completing the unthinkable.

It was on April 8, 2001, when Woods won the Masters for a second time and by doing so he became the first player to ever be in possession of all four of golf's major trophies at the same time.

Because it was done over two seasons, Woods missed out on a calendar Grand Slam so the phenomenal achievement was dubbed the 'Tiger Slam'.

"It was exciting for everybody," four-time major winner Laura Davies recalled when speaking to Stats Perform News.

"I'm sure it was hard work for him and very mentally difficult for him to win all four in a year. It was just exciting to watch Tiger do it. 

"It just would have been lovely if he'd done it in one year because it's not quite the same but it's still some achievement to hold all four at one time. 

"It was good for the game definitely. I'm a big Tiger fan, I love watching his golf. At the time it was just really exciting and just making golf a more exciting game, more exciting for the younger fans and the game's built because of what he did then."

What Woods did transcended the game and enshrined his name even deeper within the list of all-time sporting greats.

Sadly, Woods will not be at Augusta – where he is a five-time champion – this week due to the injuries he suffered in a serious car accident in Los Angeles in February.

But the magnitude of his achievement will stand the test of time and, two decades on, we have taken a look back at the incredible 'Tiger Slam'.


U.S. Open 2000: Taking apart Pebble Beach

"My words probably can't describe it, so I'm not even going to try."

While Ernie Els, who took a distant share of second at the 2000 U.S. Open struggled to sum up Woods' utter domination at Pebble Beach, we should probably at least try.

Having already blasted into a six-shot lead through two rounds thanks to scores of 65 and 69, it was on the Saturday where Woods' class really told.

As the rest of the field struggled badly in wild playing conditions, Woods recovered from a triple bogey at the third to finish the round at level par and take the lead by 10 strokes – the largest 54-hole advantage at a U.S. Open.

If that's not impressive enough for you, then a closing 67 meant Woods was 15 shots clear of Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez. And, no, that is not a typo.


The Open 2000: Sensational at St Andrews 

There was a sense of deja vu at The Open just a month later.

There was a sense of deja vu at The Open just a month later.

Poor gags aside, it truly was remarkable to see Woods in full pomp completely in command of the Old Course at St Andrews – the spiritual home of golf.

Opening with a 67 to sit one shy of leader Els, by the end of Friday's play Woods was three shots clear. By the end of Saturday that lead had doubled to six.

A closing 69 wrapped up victory by eight from Els and Thomas Bjorn, with Woods becoming the youngest person to complete golf's Grand Slam in history.

"It wasn't long ago when I said there'd never be another Jack Nicklaus but we're looking at one. He is the chosen one," Mark Calcavecchia said of Woods at the time.


US PGA Championship 2000: Play-off glory at Valhalla

There wasn't quite the same level of domination for 2000's season-ending major at the US PGA Championship but there was a familiar outcome at Valhalla. 

Having led or co-led through three rounds, there was a ding-dong battle on the final day with Bob May, who missed a crucial birdie putt at the 15th on the same hole Woods made a clutch par.

Another gain from Woods at the 17th left them tied going up the last. May drained a 15-footer for birdie, but Woods sank his own pressure putt to force a three-hole play-off.

A birdie at the first additional hole was followed by two pars and that proved enough for Woods to join Ben Hogan as the only player to win three majors in one season.

"Tiger plays a different game than we play," May said after his defeat, with Woods saying of the win: "We never backed off. We went birdie-for-birdie, shot-for-shot. It was a very special day."


Masters 2001: The Tiger Slam

After opening with a steady 70, Woods was five shots back of first-round leader Chris DiMarco but scores of 66 and 68 had him leading by one from Phil Mickelson heading into the final round.

Mickelson was part of a star-studded leaderboard including Calcavecchia, DiMarco, Angel Cabrera, David Duval and Els – all of whom were within three of Woods.

Duval made a good fist of the challenge and even briefly tied for the lead by birdieing the 15th – only to give that shot straight back.

Needing only a par at the last, Woods finished with a birdie for a two-shot win to complete a truly epic moment of sporting history.

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    Hideki Matsuyama's maiden major triumph has elevated golf to a new level, according to Gary Player.

    Matsuyama entered the history books as he became the first Japanese man to prevail at a major after winning The Masters on Sunday.

    The 29-year-old, with five PGA Tour titles under his belt prior to his Augusta triumph, held his nerve to win by one shot and claim the famed green jacket.

    Matsuyama (2011) became the third Masters champion in the last five years to have previously earned low amateur honours, following in the footsteps of Tiger Woods (2019, low amateur in 1995) and Sergio Garcia (2017, low amateur in 1999).

    Having clocked up seven top-10 finishes across golf's four headline tournaments, Matsuyama catapulted himself into esteemed company with his Georgia glory and Player, a nine-time major winner, knows there is a huge gap between winners and also-rans. 

    And he feels Matsuyama's success has taken the sport "up a notch".

    "Now you see there are lots of ifs and ands, but finishing second, only your wife and your dog knows about it – that's if you've got a good dog," the South African, who donned the green jacket three times, told Stats Perform News.

    "So now he comes along and he wins the Masters in great style and I said to him, 'I'm very happy that you won because you can be president or prime minister of Japan and I won't need a visa!'.

    "No, his play was exemplary, he kept his cool, and what wins golf tournaments is not long driving as we are brainwashed about, it's the putter and the mind.

    "I'm so happy he won because I want to see people win golf tournaments where golf is going to be the benefactor.

    "More clubs will be sold around the world now and golf went up a notch. I always wanted to have the best world record as a global golfer, not just in America only, so for me to see an international player win, I'm always happy to see anybody win but it's going to do golf so much good. I can't tell you.

    "If this wasn't during COVID you would have had people flying over from Japan the night before, the press people. He would have had 60 representatives of the media in Japan because they've been thirsting and hungry and starved for a major championship winner. And a golfing nation of that status has been deprived of that, and there they've got it at last. Thank goodness."

  • The Masters: Augusta champion Matsuyama inspired by MLB stars Ohtani, Darvish and Maeda The Masters: Augusta champion Matsuyama inspired by MLB stars Ohtani, Darvish and Maeda

    Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama said he admirers countrymen and MLB stars Yu Darvish, Kenta Maeda and Shohei Ohtani after becoming the first Japanese man to win a major.

    Matsuyama made history with his one-stroke victory ahead of Will Zalatoris in a tense finale at Augusta on Sunday.

    A five-time PGA Tour winner before this success, Matsuyama withstood a wobble and the threat posed by Xander Schauffele (72) and Zalatoris (70) to complete a history-making performance in Georgia, where he carded a final-round 73 to claim the green jacket.

    Matsuyama was asked about his golfing heroes after the memorable achievement, but the 29-year-old instead listed his baseball idols – Los Angeles Angels two-way sensation Ohtani, four-time All-Star and San Diego Padres ace Darvish and Minnesota Twins pitcher Maeda.

    "You know, the people that I admired were a lot -- were mainly baseball players: Darvish, Ohtani, Maeda," Matsuyama told reporters.

    "As far as golf, not so much. Hopefully now others will, like you said, be inspired for what happened here today and follow in my footsteps."

    "It's been a struggle recently," added Matsuyama, who had last won on the PGA Tour in 2017. "This year, no Top 10s, haven't even contended. So I came to Augusta with little or no expectations. But as the week progressed, as I practiced, especially on Wednesday, I felt something again. I found something in my swing.

    "And when that happens, the confidence returns. And so I started the tournament with a lot of confidence."

    Matsuyama (2011) – who finished 10 under – became the third Masters champion in the last five years to have previously earned low amateur honours, following in the footsteps of Woods (2019, low amateur in 1995) and Sergio Garcia (2017, low amateur in 1999).

    With his final-round 73, Matsuyama became the eighth player (nine instances) to claim The Masters despite an over-par final round – Trevor Immelman was the last to do so in 2008.

    It came after Matsuyama – four strokes clear at the start of the day – had extended his lead to five at the turn, before his title bid threatened to turn sour as Schauffele closed in and Zalatoris loomed.

    After finding water at the par-five 15th hole, Matsuyama took the penalty and cleaned up for bogey as Schauffele continued to heap pressure on the Japanese hopeful, cutting the lead to two shots with his fourth consecutive birdie.

    But Schauffele's pursuit of a maiden major collapsed when the American – seven back at the 12th tee before rallying – also found water before sending his next shot into the crowd.

    Matsuyama had a routine par to move three shots clear with two to play, but he dropped another shot, his lead down to two ahead of Zalatoris as an ill-timed triple-bogey sent 2019 runner-up Schauffele down to equal third alongside Jordan Spieth – four shots behind.

    That was the breathing space Matsuyama needed as Japan's new poster boy held his nerve, doing what he needed to do during the final two holes in front of an appreciative crowd on the 18th, where not even a bogey could wipe away the champion's smile.

    "Xander had just made three birdies in a row at 12, 13 and 14. I hit the fairway at 15, hitting first, with Xander having the momentum," Matsuyama said as he discussed his approach on the 15th and 16th holes. "I felt I needed to birdie 15 because I knew Xander would definitely be birdieing or maybe even eagling.

    "But it didn't happen. And so I stood on the 16th tee with a two-stroke lead, and unfortunately for Xander, he found the water with his tee shot and I played safe to the right of the green at 16."

    "I can't say I'm the greatest. However, I'm the first to win a major, and if that's the bar, then I've set it," Matsuyama said when asked if he is the greatest male golfer out of Japan following his success.

  • The Masters: Runner-up Zalatoris frustrated but revels in Augusta 'dream' The Masters: Runner-up Zalatoris frustrated but revels in Augusta 'dream'

    Will Zalatoris was frustrated to have finished second at The Masters, but the Augusta debutant basked in his "dream" week at the iconic major.

    Zalatoris did not look out of place in his rookie Masters appearance, the 24-year-old earning the runners-up cheque, just a stroke behind history-making champion Hideki Matsuyama on Sunday.

    Tied for sixth at last year's U.S. Open, Zalatoris – who had no status when the 2020-21 PGA Tour started in September as the coronavirus pandemic meant there was no Qualifying Tournament for the developmental Korn Ferry Tour in 2020 – catapulted himself into Masters contention.

    Attempting to become the first player since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 to win his Masters debut, Zalatoris carded a two-under-par 70 in the final round, which included five birdies and three bogeys.

    Zalatoris, who now has six top-10 and 11 top-25 finishes in his 15 Tour starts this season, said: "Absolute dream. To be in a situation, I've been dreaming about it for 20 years.

    "I thought I did a really good job this week of just enjoying the moment, but not letting it get to me. I think I kind of let everything soak in Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and then back to work on Thursday.

    "So it was an absolute treat, and obviously to come up one short and be disappointed is motivating but obviously very exciting."

    Zalatoris – the only player to shoot under par in all four rounds at this year's Masters – said: "I think the fact that I'm frustrated I finished second in my third major says something, and the fact that I didn't let any moment really get to me, was really exciting.

    "And obviously my two majors as a pro, I finished sixth and runner-up. I know if I keep doing what I doing, I'm going to have a really good chance in the future."

    "I've wanted to be on this stage for forever, for basically my entire life. So I think, if anything, it's like you finally get to this moment, and why shy away now? I've gotten here. So let's go do some damage. It was a fun week," Zalatoris continued.

    "I can play with the best players in the world."

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