Video tiger woods 15 shot win

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The symmetry was sublime, the spectacle staggering.

In the 100th edition of the U.S. Open, in his 100th tournament as a professional, Tiger Woods delivered a tour de force in 2000. At the zenith of his powers, Woods, all of 24, left onlookers and his competitors in awe at Pebble Beach Golf Links, the spectacular theater along the California coastline.

“What he did at Pebble Beach is still the greatest performance in golf of all time,” said five-time major champion Phil Mickelson, who tied for 16th that year.

The performance was breathtaking, the numbers overwhelming. With rounds of 65-69-71-67, Woods finished 12 strokes under par and 15 shots clear of the field.

His margin of victory – Miguel Angel Jimenez and Ernie Els tied for second at 3 over – broke the record for a major that was set during the Civil War, when Old Tom Morris beat just seven players by 13 shots in the 1862 British Open.

Woods also set U.S. Open records for the largest lead after 36 holes (six shots) and 54 holes (10 shots). In becoming the first man to win a U.S. Open by double-digits under par, he played the first 22 holes without a bogey, as well as the final 26.

He had zero three-putts. He needed just one putt for 20 of his first 38 holes.

Woods had three sub-par rounds while the rest of the field combined for 32.

His victory check of $800,000 – he won $9.188 million in 2000 – made him the PGA Tour’s all-time leading money winner.

“That’s a once-in-a-lifetime sort of performance,” said four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, who was playing a junior golf tournament in the States and watched as much of the U.S. Open as he could. “I don’t think something like that’s going to happen again.”

Leading into the U.S. Open’s return to Pebble Beach this week, Golfweek spoke to Woods, men who walked side-by-side with him during his historical journey and others who were witness to his unmatched brilliance.

Here is the history of that week in their words:

June 10, 2000 – The Week Before

Woods had won 12 of his previous 23 tournaments heading into the U.S. Open, including the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February storming back from a 7-shot deficit with seven holes to play.

Before returning to the Monterey Peninsula, he made a stop in Las Vegas to work with his then-swing coach Butch Harmon.

The two fine-tuned Woods’ swing and worked together from 1993 to 2004, a stretch in which Woods won three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles, 34 PGA Tour titles and eight major championships.

During his brief stay in Vegas, Woods played a practice round at Rio Secco Golf Club overlooking the Strip with Adam Scott.

Scott: “It was the first time I played with Tiger. I had just decided earlier that week to turn professional and Butch said, ‘Well, you better go to Europe to play. You’re not good enough to play the PGA Tour.’ So that’s what I was preparing to do, and we were working on my game. Tiger came in at the end of the week and Butch said he’d get Tiger to play with me, so I could see what it was all about.”

Harmon: “Tiger came out here one day and it was blowing about 30 mph and shot 63 with a penalty on one hole and still broke the course record. And we ran to the casino and bet the house. He was swinging so well. Adam shot even par, which was a hell of a score, and he came in and said, ‘Boy, I have a hell of a lot of work to do.’”

Scott: “We went out and had a match and I was 1 down through the turn. Tiger hit like a 370-yard drive onto the green at the 10th and made eagle. Then he proceeded to birdie the next three and then he might have eagled the 15th and that was the end of the match. I think he actually doubled his last hole to shoot 63. I left the round reconsidering if I should actually worry about a career in golf. It was far better than anything I had ever seen.”

“Tiger came out here one day and it was blowing about 30 mph and shot 63 with a penalty on one hole and still broke the course record. And we ran to the casino and bet the house.” – Butch Harmon

Tiger: “I was playing so well heading to Pebble. I had won earlier in the year at Pebble, so that gave me a bit more confidence. I love the place. So I was at peace going to Pebble and everything was on track.”

Scott: “The only comforting thing for me was that he won the U.S. Open by 15. I realized that everyone else was not that good too, so there was hope. Playing with Tiger was an eye-opener. What a way to get your career started, to get a complete ass whipping from him.”

June 14, 2000 – Practice Round

Woods’ final prep work at Pebble Beach included a practice round with Paul Goydos, Mark O’Meara and John Cook under brilliant sunshine, and a late evening putting session that ended just before the final light left the horizon.

Goydos: “We were first off, and we had the course to ourselves. Tiger joined us on No. 2. I remember the rough was horrendous. Around the greens was just crazy brutal. It was so thick that Mark, John and I spent most of the practice round hitting shots out of the rough around the greens, trying to figure out how to play out of the rough, trying to figure out where your ball is going to end up. The greens were so hard and so small, so you had to practice shots. I remember Tiger would hit a tee shot, hit the ball to the green, hit a few putts and then just stand there and talk to Butch. He didn’t have a care in the world. It was astounding how well he was playing. He had such control of the golf ball.”

Steve Williams, Woods’ caddie: “During my time with Tiger, you often knew he was going to be very hard to beat given his form during practice rounds. Butch and I knew something special could be in the cards that week. He was in great form, hitting any shot Butch called for. Typically, he’s a slow starter, but we knew if he got off to a decent start he would be hard to beat.”

Goydos: “We were on 12, the par 3. The green is rock hard, and the green is not very big. I can’t hit a shot that carries the bunker and stays on the green. It’s 200 yards downhill. I hit a 4-iron and I flew the bunker and it one-bounced and went into the rough over the green. So Tiger gets up there and hits a shot straight up into the air. And it flies over the bunker and stops 4 feet from the flag. I looked at him, thinking he hit a hard 7-iron, and I asked him what he hit, and he goes, ‘Four-iron.’ ‘What?’ The ball had re-entry burns on the way down. He had such control of the ball. He took 20 yards off it, threw it straight in the air, and hit it exactly as far as he wanted.”

“I remember Tiger would hit a tee shot, hit the ball to the green, hit a few putts and then just stand there and talk to Butch. He didn’t have a care in the world. It was astounding how well he was playing. He had such control of the golf ball.” – Paul Goydos

Goydos: “OK, then we get to 18, and it’s reachable in the summer. I had 230 to the front and hit 3-wood into the green. And Tiger was on the right side of the fairway, about 230 from the green, and he has an iron in his hand, and he hits this rocket to the green. It lands on the green near my ball. So we’re walking up, and I ask him what he hit. ‘Four-iron.’ ‘What?’ He hits his 4-iron as far as I hit my 4-iron, and he hit his 4-iron as far as I hit my 3-wood. That’s not even fair. He hit a 4-iron 195 on 12 and a 4-iron 230 into 18 and landed both exactly where he wanted to. I remember thinking, what are we doing here? That’s crazy golf.”

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Tiger: “The funny thing is, earlier in the week I wasn’t putting well. I was a little off. I was having a little trouble consistently hitting my line. I was making putts in the practice rounds, but I just didn’t feel right. It was weird. I was hitting too many pulls. So I went to the putting green Wednesday and just putted and putted for more than two hours and found it. My hands were just a hair too low, so I raised them and that allowed me to release the blade down the line. Everything clicked from that point on.”

Goydos: “We got done with the practice round and there were reporters there, and they tried to talk to Tiger. One asked me what I was thinking, and I said, ‘This tournament is over. He’s going to win by 10 shots.’ And they scoffed at me. And I was wrong. He won by 15. I remember walking away knowing there was nothing I could do to do what he was doing.”

June 15, 2000 – First Round

Woods took to the first tee for the first round under brilliant sunshine alongside Jim Furyk and Jesper Parnevik. Woods put up his first red number with a tap-in birdie on the fourth hole. He added a 15-foot birdie on the seventh and turned in 33. Birdies on 10, 13, 14 and 18 led to an incoming 32, and Woods put his signature to a bogey-free, 6-under-par 65 that included just 24 putts. His name was at the top of the leaderboard, one slot above Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Tiger: “It was just a matter of getting off to a quick start and not get too far behind, and I did. I shot 65 and next thing I know I’m leading the U.S. Open. After I built up a pretty good lead, it was just all about managing it from there.”

“I could just feel Tiger’s aura when I saw him on Wednesday before the U.S. Open Championship. I could just feel that he was in a spot almost nobody as a player ever gets in, mentally, physically, dead in his prime.” – Johnny Miller

Harmon: “During the week, I remember how well he drove the ball. His distance control with his irons was phenomenal. And he putted spectacularly. He was in such total control with everything he was doing. It all looked so easy and so simple. He just had this calmness about him. In reality, I just thought he looked so ready to play that I thought there was nobody who was going to come close to beating him.”

  • 2000 U.S. Open: Complete Scores, Prize Money Payouts

Johnny Miller, the 1973 U.S. Open champion and NBC’s lead analyst: “I do seem to have a gift for predicting things, and I’m pretty observant. I could just feel Tiger’s aura when I saw him on Wednesday before the U.S. Open Championship. I could just feel that he was in a spot almost nobody as a player ever gets in, mentally, physically, dead in his prime. He loved being at Pebble, he’s a California guy. He played five holes and Dan Hicks said, ‘What do you think of Tiger?’ I said, ‘I think he’s going to win by a record score and just run away with this thing.’ And he looked at me like, we just started the U.S. Open, how can you say that? I was like, ‘I don’t know, that’s just the way I feel.’”

Furyk: “I just remember if the pin was on the right side of the green, it looked like he started it in the middle and cut it toward the pin. If the pin was on the left side of the green, he started it in the middle and drew it. It seemed like he had complete control over everything he wanted to do. And that’s hard to do in U.S. Open conditions when it’s windy and with a difficult set-up golf course.”

Parnevik: “During those years when he was so good, I would say what was most impressive was his focus. He has all the amazing shots that a lot of people don’t have. But his focus was the most impressive. I said he could will the ball in the hole by just looking at it. That’s what it seemed like.”

June 16, 2000 – Round 2

Jack Nicklaus said goodbye to the U.S. Open, and ESPN announcer Mike Tirico emphatically said, “Good night!” to the viewers as Woods punctuated his round with a birdie on the 12th from 30 feet to end a day of play delayed by fog.

Shortly after the Golden Bear finished his final round in his 44th and final U.S. Open – he shot 82 and missed the cut – Woods took the lead to the first tee at 4:40 p.m. PT and birdied holes 3, 6, 7, 11 and 12 with clutch pars on three other holes. He made his first bogey of the tournament on the par-3 fifth and another on the par-4 ninth, but when darkness came he was 9 under and still atop the leaderboard.

Everyone was talking about what Woods did on the par-5 sixth hole, when he crushed a 7-iron out of 4-inch rough, the ball flying over a few trees, uphill from 205 yards onto the green for a two-putt birdie.

“And all of a sudden, Tiger takes that mighty swing, and we couldn’t see where it went. It comes up on the edge of the green. No one can do that, except Tiger.” – Roger Maltbie

ESPN/NBC analyst Roger Maltbie: “When he hit the ball on No. 6 to the green from the rough, that was about as good as it gets. We had seen multiple players drive it into the rough that day, and they all had to lay up short of the giant hill. Nobody could contemplate what Tiger did with that shot. You couldn’t picture it, you couldn’t imagine it. And all of a sudden, Tiger takes that mighty swing, and we couldn’t see where it went. It comes up on the edge of the green. No one can do that, except Tiger. Back in the day, Tiger was 20-plus yards longer than any other player out there. And combine that kind of power and the way he was playing, it wasn’t a fair fight. It was ridiculous some of the things he was doing.”

Tiger: “I thought I could catch a flier if I came down steep enough. If I had had a bad lie, I would have pitched out to the side. I thought I could get to the top of the hill, but I didn’t think I could get to the green.”

Williams: “One part of Tiger’s game, when he was in his prime, that didn’t get mentioned very often was his ability to not only advance the ball seemingly impossible distances from thick rough but also his ability to control the distance from what would appear to be an absolute rip of a swing. I remember that shot well and know for sure no other player would attempt that shot going for the green. Tiger has a great ability to see the shot and then execute it. His brute strength allows him to hold the clubface square and somehow control the distance. Tiger would not think about the potential dangers if a shot like the sixth hole didn’t come off. Instead he focused completely on the shot that’s required, and his mental will would seem to enable him to hit some incredible shots from heavy rough.”

Tiger: “I remember saying all that week that it was the par putts I kept making that were the key. Those momentum killers that I just kept burying. The 8- to 10- to 12-footers for par that felt like birdies. And you build up momentum and you keep building on that momentum.”

Parnevik: “Those greens were not perfect by any means. They were very bumpy. Poa. A lot of traffic. They were actually quite firm. Of course, he played well, and his short game was incredible, and he putted like a god. He putted like a god.”

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June 17, 2000 – Completion of Round 2

Darkness prohibited Woods from cooling down with some work on the practice putting green after play ended the day before, so he took three balls out of his bag and putted on the carpet in his room at The Lodge at Pebble Beach. Oops. Woods left the three golf balls in his room and Williams didn’t restock the bag with a fresh sleeve before the crack-of-dawn’s restart of the fog-delayed second round.

Woods dropped a shot on the 14th but birdied the 15th. Then he ripped his drive on the par-5 18th into Carmel Bay and lit up the eardrums of viewers with colorful language.

“Then I hit the one halfway to Hawaii and we’re down to one ball, but I didn’t know that.” – Tiger Woods

What Woods didn’t know at the time was there was only one golf ball left in his bag, and Williams wasn’t about to tell him despite the ocean on the left and O.B. on the right. Instead, Williams prayed. For if Woods had hit that last ball into a watery graveyard or out of bounds, penalty strokes would have commenced, as he would have faced asking one of his partners for a ball (penalty for playing a different model of ball, two shots) or had Williams run to The Lodge (likely an undue delay penalty, two shots). Instead, he wrapped up a round of 69 with a bogey and still increased his lead.

Williams: “I carried the clubs back to Tiger’s room that night. Obviously, the next morning was just a continuation of the round. I didn’t put any extra gloves or any extra balls into the bag. We just went to the driving range. Didn’t do any putting up on the practice green. Had we gone to the putting green, I would have noticed there wasn’t the amount of golf balls as should have been in there.”

Tiger: “We warmed up, no big deal. I hit a shot into 13 with a sand wedge and cut that ball and gave it to a kid.”

Williams: “I put my hand in the bag and there are only three balls. The very first hole he scuffed the ball and he threw it over to this kid. I vividly recall the situation. He was walking with his friends. He was so excited. I actually wanted to go over and say, ‘Can you give that ball back to me, I’ll give it to you on the 18th?’ Now we have two balls. Then the first tee shot on the 18th, it would be good to just hit an iron down there. But he’s driving the ball just fantastic, so no need to say anything. I don’t want to sound negative. He hooks into the ocean.”

Tiger: Then I hit the one halfway to Hawaii and we’re down to one ball, but I didn’t know that. All of a sudden Stevie suggests I hit iron off the tee and … I did not say nice words to him. I went ahead and hit driver. And I had a simple 4-iron to the green and Stevie wanted me to hit it up the right side of the hole, and I said, ‘Why do I want to go up the right side?’ So I started it out to the left over the ocean to cut it back and it just went long over the back and I got up and down for a bogey.”

Williams: “Now we’re down to our last ball. He was adamant he was hitting driver for the second shot. Bit of an argument. It’s our last ball. O.B. right. Water left. Can honestly say it’s the only time I was actually shaking. He hit a great drive in the middle of the fairway. But the tree is directly in line with the flag. Now he wants to hit a big cut, out over the ocean. I can’t tell him we have just one ball. I couldn’t say anything. But he hit the shot perfect.”

Tiger: “I knew something was up but didn’t say a word. He told me about it six months later. And my reaction? ‘What the f-k?’”

Williams: “If we had run out of balls, I would have run out of a job.”

June 17, 2000 – Round 3

Woods led by six after 36 – a U.S. Open record – and was paired with Thomas Bjorn. Woods birdied the second to extend his lead on what proved to be a turbulent day that clobbered most everyone else. But on the third hole, a dogleg-left par 4, Woods faced his second spot of bother Saturday when Pebble Beach slapped him upside the head. His approach on the third came up short in grim rough, and Woods needed two shots to extract himself from the heavy hay and made a triple-bogey 7.

“He was absolutely faultless. It was just a question of how many was he going to win by. There was almost a feeling he was saying, ‘I’m this good and the rest of you are this poor.’ . . . It was a case of him being so much better than everybody else at that moment in time.” – Thomas Bjorn

Four holes later, however, he birdied the seventh, then exchanged his bogey on the eighth with a birdie on the ninth – the toughest hole on the course. A bogey on the 10th was offset by a birdie on the 14th, and he parred in for an even 71. On a day when 17 players failed to break 80, Woods played 24 holes and stretched his lead to 10 – another U.S. Open record after 54 holes.

Tiger: “I just wanted to get back to even par. Somehow, some way, if it was going to take me all day to get there, I’d figure out a way to get back to even par for the round. That’s what I was thinking. And I was able to do that. And it was a huge task and it was the second lowest round of the day. That’s how tough it was out there. That was a mini-goal.”

Bjorn: “After two holes I just sort of knew it wasn’t going to turn out well for me. And you end up sort of watching. Apart from the third hole on Saturday where he made a triple, he was absolutely faultless. It was just a question of how many was he going to win by. There was almost a feeling he was saying, ‘I’m this good and the rest of you are this poor.’ That was almost the feeling I got. It was a case of him being so much better than everybody else at that moment in time.”

Tiger: “I told myself that just because I got off to a slow start doesn’t mean I couldn’t have a good finish.”

Bjorn: “He was on a different level not only that week but for probably five, six years. It wasn’t until (Vijay Singh) sort of stood up and took him on, and then there were people niggling at him like David Duval, but Tiger was on a different level and that week was probably his finest golfing moment. … I just tried to stay out of the way. I was playing in the last group on a Saturday and I felt like I probably shouldn’t be here.”

June 18, 2000 – Final Round

Poor Ernie Els. He was the only player to break par in the third round with a 68, which launched him from a tie for 30th to second, and his reward? A final-round pairing with Woods, who held a 10-shot lead, the largest after 54 holes in the history of the championship.

Woods was intent not to coast along and set a goal to fire a bogey-free round.

Delivering a resounding exclamation point, Woods shot 67 – the day’s best round – as he made nine consecutive pars and then birdied 10, 12, 13 and 14.

But it was his most emphatic fist pump of the day – on the 16th after making a 15-footer for par – that provided another glimpse into the soul of the man. The par on the 16th and another when he got up and down from a bunker on 17 were his most rewarding holes of the day. He polished off a brilliant display of dominance rarely seen in golf.

“Bury it. Don’t make a bogey. Do what you set out to do. And I buried it. And I did the fist pump because to me, that putt, that par, meant so much. That putt meant more to me than people might think.” – Tiger Woods

Tiger: “My plan was not to make a bogey. In golf, you have to have mini-goals. Sometimes a mini-goal is about three holes, or six, or nine. That day the main mini-goal was to not make a bogey. So that day, when I went out there, I just felt that if I played my game, someone would have to shoot something like 60 to catch me. I just had the mindset that I wasn’t going to make a mistake. I knew I’d be in a bad spot here and there, but I’d figure out a way not to make a bogey.”

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Els: “After six holes, you could see it was over. I just kind of tried to enjoy the walk with him. It was unbelievable. The enormity of it doesn’t really hit you at the time because you are playing a tournament. But reflecting back, it was very special. I felt like he was really at his best. He was different, especially playing with all the confidence he had in 2000. The ball flight that he had in those days was the best I’ve ever seen. The ball flight, and the velocity of the ball coming off the club, I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Tiger: “The thing is, I worked so hard to not make a bogey in the final round. When I got to 16 and had that 15-footer, that was all I was thinking about. Bury it. Don’t make a bogey. Do what you set out to do. And I buried it. And I did the fist pump because to me, that putt, that par, meant so much. That putt meant more to me than people might think.”

Maltbie: “It was punctuated on Sunday when he went out with a 10-shot lead. And we were doing television and we’re trying to keep people watching, so the narrative becomes Tiger isn’t happy by winning by 12, he wants to win by 13.”

Tiger: “Playing 18, I could have easily hit driver down there, but I knew it was a 3-shot hole, so I hit a 4-iron down there, a 7-iron layup and then a wedge to the green. What not many people know is, if you watch the video of the last hole, I hit the first putt past the hole and when I go to mark it, you can see me almost fake slam the ball into the ground because I was pissed that I had run it by the hole so far. It was 4 feet by. Now I’m thinking I could three-putt and make a bogey after I fought so hard all day not to, and I’d end my U.S. Open on a bogey and it would ruin the day. So I was steaming. Granted, I was going to win the U.S. Open, but I cleared my mind, made the putt and it was the perfect cap to the week.”

Els: “Growing up as a winner and then running into a guy like Tiger, there was some frustration under the surface. It was a tough time, but it was a good time. I won a lot of tournaments around the world at that time myself. I wasn’t quite winning the tournaments he was playing. I guess that was the frustrating thing.”

Tiger: “I hit it great. And on Poa annua greens, I never missed a putt inside 10 feet for the week. Not missing a putt inside 10 feet on Poa is a pretty good stat. But it starts with the ballstriking. I was hitting it so well that I was leaving myself, even on those greens, how small they are, with a lot of uphill putts. Having those uphill, especially on Poa because it gets a little bumpy, makes all the difference in the world.”

Maltbie: “Afterward when we were interviewing him, he said he went out that day with the goal of not making a bogey. That’s what he was fired up about – saving a par. He thought differently, he played differently, he executed better. It was an insight into Tiger Woods at a young age.”

2000 U.S. Open – The Aftermath

One month after winning his third major and first U.S. Open, Woods became the youngest player – he bested Jack Nicklaus by two years – to complete the career Grand Slam with a masterpiece in the British Open. The 129th edition of the oldest championship in golf was held at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland. Woods finished at 19 under – another record – and eight shots clear of the two who tied for second – Bjorn and Els, the last two players he played with at the U.S. Open.

A month later Woods successfully defended his PGA Championship title at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky by beating Bob May in a playoff. The two shot 18 under in regulation, breaking the tournament scoring record in relation to par.

In 2000, Woods made 20 starts and won nine times. The following year Woods completed the Tiger Slam, as he held off David Duval and Mickelson to win the Masters by two shots, becoming the first player to hold all four professional major championships at the same time.

Overall, he won 10 of his next 22 starts after blasting Pebble Beach and his colleagues in the U.S. Open. Coupled with winning 12 of his 23 starts ahead of the U.S. Open, Woods won 23 of 46 events.

Williams: “Tiger’s play at both the 2000 U.S. Open and the 2000 Open Championship were as close to what Tiger always described as owning your swing, not renting it. As the saying goes, he had it on a string, and for the most part he had it on a string. Each time Tiger was on the range that week all those players were watching him like it was a clinic. It was definitely as good as I’ve seen him.”

Miller: “That was the best. Winning by 15 shots was amazing. The top of his career. He had other great years after that, and of course with (81) wins and (15) majors, it’s an amazing career. But that was the apex of the best Tiger could be.”

Goydos: “We were all awestruck at how well he drove the ball, how long he was and how accurate he was. And he made every putt that ever mattered. And the astounding thing is, those weren’t the strengths of his game. He’s the greatest iron player who has ever lived. Everyone was so awed by his power, but he was the greatest iron player who ever lived. You put all that together, and he’s as good around the greens as anyone ever was, and it’s just not fair.”

Parnevik: “His mental strength was where he beat everybody. And there was no letting down, no stopping. If he could win by two, he wanted to win by four. If he could win by four, he wanted to win by 10. Normally people let off. He always wanted to go into another gear.”

Maltbie: “We all had a feeling he was going to win. It wasn’t like we were going out on a limb. But I can’t say I foresaw him winning by 15. It was probably the greatest performance in a major championship of all time.”

Harmon: “I thought it would be impossible for anyone to beat him. As it turned out, that was the case. Back then, that was the best Tiger ever played. Yes, that was the best golf I’ve ever seen. … I don’t see how you can play the game better than he did in 2000.”

Tiger: “Yeah, the U.S. Open was pretty good. But I actually played better at the (British) Open that year. The smaller targets, the tighter shots. Still, the U.S. Open was pretty good.” Gwk

(Note: This story appeared in the June 2019 issue of Golfweek.)