It has long been a tournament that protects par as a symbol of its heritage. Considered the toughest Major to win, its chaotic defences are symbolised by penal rough and single-lane fairways. Where the US Open is concerned, the USGA’s order is clear: to find the best golfer on the planet.
Come the third week of June 2000, there could be no clearer definition of that during the 100th instalment of America’s national championship.Indeed, while Tiger Woods tamed the rugged Californian coastline of Pebble Beach, the rest of the field simply played second fiddle for second place. Twelve-under-par played the three-over posted by Miguel Angel Jimenez and Ernie Els – a 15-stroke victory highlighting the gulf between one man and his rivals.
Such was Woods’ form that from the moment he took the lead during the opening round, records were to be his only obstacle. They came thick and fast, including the first player in the event’s history to finish in double figures under par, and a margin of victory that beat the previous Major record of 13 strokes held by Old Tom Morris at the 1862 Open Championship.
Nine years on, Woods’ standing in the game is not yet fully defined. But it was during this annihilation of both course and field that his superlative prowess was truly first
recognised. “If you were building the perfect golfer,” mused Mark O’Meara, “you would build Tiger Woods.” Quite.