Will the 14-time major winner make it 15 in 2019 following his successful and healthy 2018? By Lewis Blain.
Will Tiger Woods Win A Major In 2019?
The return of the Tiger in 2018 was not only fruitful for the man himself after he picked up his first victory since 2013, but also for the world of golf.
Walking up the 18th at East Lake, in his iconic ‘Sunday red’, a stampede of raucous golf fans were going berserk at what they were witnessing.
There were rows, and rows, and rows of fans – quite rightly too – all eager to get the slightest glimpse of Woods’ astonishing feat.
In reality, it had been coming.
He began 2018 with a trio of top-12 finishes including a tie-for-second at the Valspar Championship. He was then T6th at The 147th Open Championship after leading late Sunday afternoon, and runner-up to the superb Brooks Koepka at Bellerive in the USPGA Championship.
He only missed the cut twice in 19 tournaments, one of which was in the US Open at the controversial Shinnecock Hills – it wasn’t to everybody’s liking.
He made a top-20 finish in just over 50% of his events – all just 13 months after he was allowed to start chipping and putting again, following his spinal fusion surgery.
It breeds further cause for increased optimism that Woods can go one step further and win his first major since the 2008 US Open.
One factor in his favour is that he has played AND won on three of the four major venues on the calendar this year.
His first ever major victory came at Augusta National in 1997 at the age of 21, breaking multiple records. Not only becoming the youngest ever winner of the Masters (at the time) but also breaking the records for winning margin (12 strokes) and winning score (18-under-par).
Woods also went on to win the Masters back-to-back in 2001 and 2002 before beating Chris DiMarco in a sudden death play-off in 2005 to record a fourth green jacket.
Bethpage Black is the host of this year’s USPGA Championship, where it will host a Major for the third time.
It’s another venue the 43-year-old has won at too. In the 2002 US Open, a particularly tough scoring tournament, Woods finished as the only player with a score under par to win.
He was then T6th at the 2009 US Open, four back of Lucas Glover.
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The PGA Tour’s schedule change has meant that the US Open will now be the third major on the calendar.
This year sees the illustrious Pebble Beach host the tournament for a sixth time – a place Woods knows all too well.
The 14-time major winner won the US Open in 2000 at a canter here, recording a score of 12-under-par, some 15 strokes ahead of 2nd place duo Miguel Angel Jimenez and Ernie Els who had scored three-over-par.
He also won the 2000 Pebble Beach Pro Am and finished three strokes back of Graeme McDowell at the 2010 US Open.
His performances in both the USPGA Championship and The Open Championship in 2018 show that the former world number one still has the steel and the ability to compete at a Major.
Despite only playing 50 rounds for the first time since the 2013 calendar year, he is still a ball-striking wizard..
Woods had been dealing with back problems for over five years but has still come back to prove he is one of, if not the best, ball-strikers in golf.
Augusta National and Pebble Beach are a ball-striking paradise where he should thrive regardless of his history there while if he can tame the driver some more, he could certainly compete at Bethpage Black.
On the greens, his putting came on tenfold as the season grew. Having lingered outside the top 100 on Tour for the first half of the year, Woods finished the 2018 campaign ranked 39th for putting having made serious strides in the final three months.
Unlike yesteryear, the 80-time PGA Tour winner proved he could stay fit and healthy in 2018 despite a haphazard schedule. He should have a much better regime this year and one that will include playing less events and keeping his body in tact.
The bookmakers certainly think Woods has a huge chance to win one of the four majors this year – he is one of the top three favourites in all of them and the stand-out for a fifth green jacket.
Whether Tiger Woods wins his 15th major this year or not, one thing that is certain is that this iconic comeback is one of the all-time greatest in sport.
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