Tiger Woods had not played an event since the end of the 2019 PGA Tour, in part because of another knee surgery, but headed to the tee box with a composed gait. The surgery, completed 9 weeks ago, was the 5th knee operation of his phenomenal career. Most of the golf world expected Woods to show some well-deserved rust as he teed off at the ZOZO Championship in Chiba, Japan. Instead, Woods put in a veteran’s performance to claim the title on Monday, after weather forced the abandonment of play on Friday. Woods’ beat Hideki Matsuyama by 3 strokes for his 82nd PGA Tour victory.
The win take Woods up to 82 PGA Tour victories, which ties Sam Snead’s record for the most wins. Snead won his last event at the age of 52 years while Woods’ is 43. This is just the latest milestone to prove that Woods is one of if not the greatest golfer to ever play the game. He has a higher win percentage at 22.8% than other legends Ben Hogan (21.3%), Byron Nelson (18.1%) and Snead (14%). Woods also sits second in the table for most major championships with 15, 3 behind Jack Nicklaus’ haul of 18. The closest active player on that list is Phil Mickelson with 5.
Tiger Woods has tied Sam Snead's record of 82 PGA Tour wins. Getty Images
Woods has stated that he hopes to return to Japan and take part in the 2020 Olympics being held in Tokyo. If he can maintain his form, Woods could compete in what would be his first Olympics. In order to qualify, Woods needs to be one of the top-4 Americans in the Official World Golf Rankings on June 22, 2020. That’s where he currently resides, with his ranking of 6 putting him behind no.1 Brooks Koepka, no. 3 Dustin Johnson, and no. 4 Justin Thomas. Given his Masters' winning performance last year and starting this season hot, it seems Olympic qualification is firmly within his grasp. And if Woods can continue his strong play, he will stand a great chance of adding yet another impressive victory to his career.
Tiger Woods winning his first PGA Tour title at the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational. Photo courtesy: Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated