All eyes are on Tiger Woods the 2020 Masters. Even though he isn’t considered a top contender to win the tournament, his surprise 2019 comeback win has everyone wondering if he can do it again. Along with his 5 wins (in 1997, 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2019,) he’s also been runner-up twice, placed in the Top 5 five times and made it to the Top 10 twice.
Woods has chased records set by Jack Nicklaus throughout his career. If he wins the 2020 Masters, he will match Nicklaus’s record of winning 6 green jackets. He’s still three major championships behind matching Nicklaus’s other record of 18 major all-time wins.
Woods is the defending champion from 2019, and Masters patrons are wondering if he can claim back-to-back green jackets again like he did in 2001-2002. He’s facing an entirely new level of competition this year, including top contender Bryson DeChambeau and his 400+ yard drive (he hit a 428 yard drive to bogey at the Travelers Championship in June.) Rory McIlroy, John Rahm and Justin Thomas are also putting up serious competition.
Let’s look back at the highlights of Tiger Woods’ five epic Masters wins.
Score: 18 under (270)
Margin of victory: 12 strokes
Winner’s share: $486,000
The 61st Masters Tournament was a record setting occasion for a number of reasons. Tiger achieved the best score he would ever get at the Masters, coming in at 270. This beat Jack Nicklaus’s 1965 record score of 271 by one point. This came just one year after he played his first Masters in 1996.
With his win, he became the first ever black or asian person to win as well as the youngest person ever to secure the storied green jacket. His margin of victory was record- setting. In true Tiger style, he was a slow start in the first round (this trend would continue in all of his winning Masters tournaments.)
On the back nine of the 1st round, he scored 6-under- par 30 (after scoring 4-over-par 40 on the front 9.) He accomplished this by making four birdies and one eagle. Woods was the top player in both the 2nd and 3rd rounds, giving him a nine-shot lead. He defeated 19-time PGA winner Tom Kite by a record-setting 12 strokes.
Score: 16 under (272)
Margin of victory: 2 strokes
Winner’s share: $1,008,000
The 65th Masters has Tiger Woods playing to great expectations. This year’s Masters win capped off the so-called “Tiger Slam,” where he took all 4 major tournaments in one year (U.S. Open, Open Championship, Masters and PGA Championship.)
In true Tiger style, he failed to make the leaderboard in the 1st round. He jumped to third place in the 2nd round, and stayed at #1 throughout the 3rd and 4th rounds. He was up against David Duval and 3-time Masters winner Phil Mickleson (who hadn’t yet taken the green jacket but would do so in 2004, 2006 and 2010.), Duval was ranked #1 golfer in the world in 1999.
In the 4th round, competition was tight until Mickleson dropped off after bogeying #6 and never recovering. Duval tied the round briefly when he birdied #15. Tiger then parred 16 and 17 and birdied 18 to take the round by 2 strokes. He finished with 4-under 68.
Score: 12 under (276)
Margin of victory: 3 strokes
Winner’s share: $1,260,000
Augusta National underwent some significant design changes before the 66th Masters, a phenomenon some have called “Tiger Proofing.” Half of the holes on the course were lengthened, bringing the total distance to 7,270 yards. This was an increase of 285 yards (261 meters) over 2001.
2002 was only the third time in history that a Masters title has been successfully defended. Jack Nicklaus did it in 1966, and so did Nick Faldo in 1990. Tiger made it onto the leaderboard in the first round (which he had been unable to do in 1997 and 2001.) At the end of the 2nd round, Vijay Singh was in the lead, with Tiger sitting at a 5-way tie for 4th place, sitting at 5 under. He tied the lead at the end of the 3rd round with South African golfer Retief Goosen and a score of 11 under.
In the final round, Tiger comfortably cinched the title when Goosen hit a two-over 74 (with his score falling to 9 under.) Woods had a clear victory, despite the tight scoring between the other golfers, with the players in second through tenth place all scoring one subsequent point apart.
Score: 12 under (276)
Margin of victory: Playoff
Winner’s Share: $1,260,000
Tiger matched his 2002 score, but it would take 14 more years for him to win his fifth green jacket. This was the year that Tiger also hit one of the most famous shots in golf history (his chip onto the green at #16.) This would be his narrowest victory at Augusta, as he ended up in a playoff with Chris DiMarco (who was a solid tournament player but always had trouble making it to first place.)
Woods didn’t make the leaderboard in the 1st round, ending up at 2 over par. He ended the 2nd round at six-under 66, 6 points behind Chris DiMarcoand 2 behind Thomas Bjørn. In the 3rd round, DiMarco held onto his three round lead. Woods overtook Bjørn by birdying 7 holes in a row (tying Steve Pate’s record,) and closing the gap between him and DiMarco to just 4 points.
The final round of the 2005 Masters was one of the most exciting match-ups in history. In the final round, DiMarco and Woods were neck-in-neck (alternately hitting birdies and bogies) until a memorable moment at #16 (the hole known as “Redbud” at Augusta National.)
DiMarco was well positioned on the green, and Tiger had a tough shot from the right greenside rough. He hit a 50-foot chip shot that appeared to stop before tipping into the cup. DiMarco missed his birdie putt. Woods bogeyed his drive on #17. On #18, Woods missed his par putt and DiMarco tied the round with a 3 meter putt. In a sudden death round, Woods putted a birdie for victory.
Score: 13 under (275)
Margin of victory: 1 stroke
Winner’s share: $2,070,000
Tiger faced a number of personal and professional challenges between these two Masters wins. He had knee surgery in 2008, broke his winning streak in 2009 when he lost the PGA championship and faced trouble in his personal life starting with a single car crash, and ending in loss of sponsors and a divorce.
His wins in 2005 and 2019 set another record - longest span between Masters wins. Even when Tiger is facing challenges, he’s still setting records! He became the second oldest golfer to win at Age 43. Since his last round at Augusta, other changes had been made to the course. In 2006, Six holes were tweaked, adding 155 yards to the course and bringing the overall length to 7,445 yards.
Woods stayed true to form by not making it onto the leaderboard until the 2nd round. He tied Tony Finau for second place behind Francesco Molinari in the 3rd round at -11. In the final round, Woods took the lead at Hole #16, and finished at two-under 70. It was a narrow win (Tiger bogeyed #18), as he was just one point ahead of the three players who tied for third place: Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele.
Will Tiger Woods Win the 2020 Masters?
Tiger Woods is one of the most dedicated players in the sport. He’s been a record breaker since day 1, and his 2019 win proves that he still has plenty left to prove on the course (after all, he’s a competitor first and foremost.) The only question is, can he do it again in 2020? Check out our Masters viewing guide here.