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Change my mind: The summer of ’06 was Tiger’s best ever

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The 2006 season was a tale of severe ups and downs for Tiger Woods. It started as a lot of seasons do for him, with a win at Torrey Pines and another at Doral. All things as we would expect from TW in the first run of the season.

Then, life happened in a brutal way that would affect all of us severely: on May 3, 2006, his father passed away. Earl Woods was not only Tiger’s dad but his best friend, most trusted confidant, and Tiger’s security blanket. The passing itself was not a sudden shock per se but regardless it was a hit to the heart and soul of a young man who was on the verge of becoming a father himself.

Leading up to his passing, Tiger had top 25s at Bay Hill and The Players and a T3 at Augusta. Not bad by any measure, but in comparison to the rest of his year, a downtick. Looking back it’s to be expected, and by normal human measures, his play was pretty solid.

In the aftermath of Earl’s passing, Tiger had his first missed cut in a major at the U.S. Open. Not shocking at all, considering how tough the course played and the long layoff leading in for TW. It would be like not swinging a bat for two months and your first at-bat is against Randy Johnson. I don’t care who you are, but the odds are stacked against you in a major way.

It’s at this point that Tiger started a run that I believe was the greatest of his career, maybe even in history.

The Cialis Western Open was his first tournament back, roughly a month after his missed cut at the U.S. Open. It was simply a warmup for TW with a T2 and some signs that his ball-striking was rounding into form.

It was at the 2006 Open Championship that every part of Tiger’s game rounded into form. Some say his performance at Royal Liverpool was his best ball-striking performance ever.

This is what his coach at the time Hank Haney had to say:

“Many consider that the best ball-striking tournament of Tiger’s career but given the fact that he didn’t hit woods I probably wouldn’t go that far but he was nearly flawless with the irons, he hit all the shots, high and low, left to right and right to left.”

The win at The Open that year was monumental even beyond the ball striking. The moment the final putt dropped for a five-stroke victory Tiger Woods, the man who had been a stoic brick house since day one, broke down in tears. Exhausted physically and emotionally, Woods melted into caddie Steve Willams’ shoulder and let it all go. It was a beautiful moment.

The five tournaments after the open were a display of play that I think will go unmatched…ever.

Just look at the results: These are consecutive starts mind you. Keep in mind that winning any tournament is exhausting, two in a row, Herculean…What is six in a row? Not of this planet. And four of them were against the best fields in the world.

If you do the math, he was a combined 109 under par for a tournament average of 18 under. Also, keep in mind that this run included two majors and two WGC championships. Just one of those wins designates a great year. Tiger had four in the span of six weeks.

His final tallies were

Staggering performance, given the fact that he missed a good portion of the year dealing with the death of his father, which changes people in so many ways.

I’ll get pushback on this, especially from those who say the 2000 run was the pinnacle, but I disagree.

But of course, I’m a reasonable man. So I say: Bring it on. Change my mind.

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Johnny Wunder is the Director of Original Content, Instagram Manager and Host of “The Gear Dive” Podcast for GolfWRX.com. He was born in Seattle, Wash., and grew up playing at Rainier G&CC. John is also a partner with The Traveling Picture Show Company having most recently produced JOSIE with Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner. In 1997 Johnny had the rare opportunity of being a clubhouse attendant for the Anaheim Angels. He now resides in Toronto, On with his wife and two sons. @johnny_wunder on IG

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Phil the groundhog

    Mar 25, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    2008!
    only 6 starts; 4 wins; US open won; 2nd in the Masters; won WGC matchplay. worst place: 5th.

  2. DJ

    Mar 25, 2020 at 10:52 am

    2000 was better – 3 majors (winning by 15 at Pebble and by 8 at St. Andrews – 2 iconic spots to get your first US & British Opens). Wins 3 in a row with the PGA Championship and the WGC-NEC (back to back weeks), and the Canadian Open. He won at Pebble again in the AT&T, wins at Arnie’s and Jack’s with Bay Hill and The Memorial. 17 top 10’s in 20 starts with 9 of them being wins.

  3. Nick

    Mar 25, 2020 at 9:48 am

    Upon reviewing this I would say 2006 was better than 2000 because everyone was playing the same equipment. Remember in 2000 he was one of the few playing a solid-core golf ball. In 2006, everyone was playing a solid-core golf ball, so no one had a huge advantage.

  4. Jarhead

    Mar 24, 2020 at 11:39 pm

    I remember thinking it was amazing just coming back to win once after losing is father. That is a hard thing to get over.

  5. Alex

    Mar 24, 2020 at 9:16 pm

    2000 and not even close. Pebble, St Andrews; Valhalla, 5th at Augusta, 2 in a row after pga, scoring records, scorched earth the field twice at 2 iconic venues, only guy to break par at pebble and wins by 15? Unequivocally better than anyone at anytime that’s ever played game. Nicklaus and Jones didn’t just absolutely embarrass the rest of the sport like that.

  6. Benny

    Mar 24, 2020 at 6:52 pm

    This is awesome and also never knew it went down like this. Love reading about it and thinking back. Any chance we can see a WITB?
    Thanks GolfWrx

  7. Larry Long

    Mar 24, 2020 at 6:52 pm

    How was Phil’s 2006 scoring? He won 2005 PGA, the Bell South by 13 strokes, theMasters, 2nd at US Open. If 2006 was Tiger’s best ever, Phil was right there and beat him in many big events.

    • Russ

      Mar 25, 2020 at 3:27 am

      Stop it, Phil has had a nice career but his resume doesn’t stack up at all. Nice try though!

      • Rory

        Mar 25, 2020 at 9:40 am

        Article is not debating best career – its debating best stretch over a limited run.

        • Sonny

          Mar 25, 2020 at 4:17 pm

          @Rory best stretch and you bring are bringing Phils name into the equation? He has never won 2 events in a row never mind 2 majors Lol….And you are comparing that to 6 wins a a row which include 2 majors. Geez have a word!

          • Daniel Sanders

            Mar 25, 2020 at 5:14 pm

            Sonny you’re stepping on your toes, the 05 PGA and 06 Masters were two majors in a row. US Open he should have won would have been 3 in a row. Bellsouth and Masters were two in a . Phil hits 3 iron off tee and wins ‘06 US Open and we don’t talk about Tiger’s 2006.

    • Pelling

      Mar 25, 2020 at 9:34 am

      Phil’s 2006 was great until the 72nd hole at Winged Foot! Hahaha.

  8. moses

    Mar 24, 2020 at 4:34 pm

    Wow. Never saw it from that perspective before. Winning 6 in a row that includes 2 majors plus 2WGCs is astounding.

  9. Sonny

    Mar 24, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    Could you do 2008 season as the best start of the year:?

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Morning 9: Latest memo from Tour to players | Phil’s post-Match perspective | Greg Norman’s regrettable take

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1. Latest “bubble” memo
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard details the most recent communique from Tour to its players…“In a memo sent to players on Wednesday, tournament director Michael Tothe outlined many of the protocols that will be required when play resumes on June 11 at Colonial including the four Fort Worth, Texas, hotels that will create the foundation of the circuit’s “bubble” for the week.”
  • “The core of the PGA Tour’s plan to return was always about testing, but it’s a fine line to walk. In two weeks, at the Charles Schwab Challenge, we’ll find out if it will be enough.”
  • “Players are allowed to stay in individual RVs or rental homes but they are being encouraged to assure the health and safety of their accommodations if they choose to stay outside the bubble.”
  • “Players were also informed where COVID-19 testing will occur when they arrive in Fort Worth as well as meal options at Colonial, which will be limited to grab-and-go lunches in order to follow safety protocols.”
2. Little John finishes second at Crooked Stick 
Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star…Daly II made that same walk on Wednesday, up the 18th fairway for the final round of the inaugural Dye Junior Golf Invitational at Crooked Stick.”
  • “I think a lot of guys have re-watched the 1991 PGA tournament,” Daly II said. “I watched it every night before the tournament. (Watching him) walk down the 18th with all of the fans everywhere was pretty cool. He started as the ninth alternate and didn’t expect to play. For him to win, it was a ridiculous story. He loves it.”
  • “Daly II put together a remarkable tournament in his own right, finishing a three-way tie for second place behind winner John Marshall Butler of Louisville, Kentucky. Daly II was 4 over for the two-day, 54-hole event, which featured 33 of the top high school boys players in the country and 33 of the same on the girls’ side.”
3. Phil open to wearing mic
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Speaking on the Dan Patrick Show, Mickelson admitted that he didn’t expect the same level of banter during a typical Tour event with a seven-figure prize on the line, but he’d nonetheless be willing to broadcast his inside-the-ropes dialogue.”
  • “I would be open to the idea because of how it’s being received, and some of the insight and so forth,” Mickelson said. “But you don’t have the play between individuals. I had a partner, and Tom and I could talk back and forth. And maybe you could get some of that with the caddie, but having a partner is much more intimate and you have much better conversation.”
4. …wants annual Match
AP report…”Phil Mickelson, fresh off the success of Sunday’s charity golf exhibition with Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, says he would like to see “The Match” become an annual event.”
  • “I think you could showcase guys like Steph Curry and Michael Jordan or Tony Romo and Patrick Mahomes, who are all good golfers, elite talents and have great personalities,” Mickelson told the Los Angeles Times in a column published Wednesday. “Those personalities are going to come out with this event. Or you could have someone who loves the game and is competitive but is really entertaining like Larry David and Bill Murray. I think that could shine.”
5. More audience info
Interesting stuff from Geoff Shackelford…“According to Showbuzzdaily.com, almost 1/3 of The Match 2’s audience was in the coveted 18-49 demo and the number was even better on on TruTV, also meaning there are people of any age group who know how to find TruTV”
  • “About 30% of The Match’s audience landed in the 18-49 demo despite the 44.5 average age of the participants…The numbers for TaylorMade Driving Relief with a foursome averaging 29.5 years”
  • “That’s 25% of the almighty buyers for a younger, supposedly more millennial-friendly group of golfers. And a grand total of (at least) 860,000 fewer viewers 18-49.  While not a huge difference in the percentage department, The Match did rout Driving Relief in overall audience and even took chipped away at NASCAR’s ratings.”

Full piece.

6. After a long layoff, how do the pros play?
Dylan Beirne, 15th Club for PGATour.com, examines the question…“As we might expect, there’s a clear relationship between performance and the number of weeks a player has been off. We can analyze how well players perform by comparing our estimate of their ability (how we would expect them to perform) to how they actually performed.”
  • “Generally, players taking small breaks of two weeks or less are marginally better than expected, while longer breaks result in an average drop in performance of between 0.1 and 0.2 strokes per round. For context, a drop of 0.2 strokes per round is about the gap between 100th- and 135th-ranked players in the world. It’s a significant change, but not enormous.”
  • “Additionally, the drop in performance after a 10-20 week gap is quite consistent across different levels of players. Top-50 players in the world are affected by a similar amount to those outside the top 50.”
7. A really bad take from Greg Norman
I mean, what else can you call it? A man who has a history of obtuseness and putting his fin in his mouth outdid himself with unfounded speculation about the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash in an interview with Michael Bamberger…“I asked Norman about the January helicopter crash in Los Angeles that killed all nine people aboard, Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, among them. I asked Norman if he had any insight, from his own experience as a helicopter pilot, and as an elite athlete who has flown often in helicopters as a passenger, into the tragedy.”
  • “Yes – yes,” he said. His voice was sober. “Probably pilot error and pressure from the back,” Norman said. Norman could imagine the legendary basketball player saying, “‘Get me through this; get me there. I’ve got to get my daughter to this game.’
  • …”My instructor and I had a saying, ‘If you can’t see through it don’t fly through it.’ If I was flying to Doral or Orlando or Naples and there was fog, we just put it down and waited it out.”
8. Sprint to the Cup
Ben Everill at PGATour.com…“The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting cancellations and postponements of tournaments leaves just 11 eligible tournaments over a 10-week stretch for players to qualify for the Playoffs and a chance at the $15 million bonus that comes with the season-long FedExCup crown.”
  • “While the top 125 will not double as the cutoff for TOUR cards next season in this reduced schedule, it will remain the mark to get into THE NORTHERN TRUST, the first of three Playoffs events in the chase for the FedExCup.”
  • “Gone is the luxury of extended rest between starts for those sitting way back on the list, such as Koepka, who was just starting to find his feet again on a return from injury when the pandemic halted play in March.”

 

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Morning 9: Improving golf coverage | Oral history of TW’s “best shot” | Nichols: Charity matches were great…but why no women?

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1. Match-inspired innovations for improving golf coverage
Golf Digest’s Shane Ryan with a few thoughts…Mid-round interviews…There’s no really good reason beyond mild annoyance to the players that this couldn’t work, even in the current COVID-19 environment, provided that safe social distancing is practiced. In the major team sports, coaches are obliged to give interviews, and players will occasionally speak at halftime or between periods. There are no “coaches” in that same sense in golf, but the game happens at a slower pace, and a 60-second walking interview between holes is not too much to ask. I don’t think there’s a reasonable argument that it’s overly disruptive, especially if planned in advance.”
  • …”Mic’d up players and caddies…In exhibitions past, we’ve witnessed players with live microphones, but the purpose behind it is dreaded “banter,” which typically comes across as hollow, forced and not very funny. But if players and caddies wore mics during a round, producers could find riveting audio that captures natural conversation or impromptu strategy sessions. Phil serving as a mentor for Tom Brady was riveting and hopefully stokes our appetite for similar mid-round insight…”
2. An oral history of Tiger’s “best shot” 
Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com…(This is just the introduction to a fantastic piece that talks to Bob Weeks of TSN and Steve Williams, among others!)…”Had it slipped between Tiger Woods’ 6-iron and golf ball, one rogue grain could have sunk his hopes of winning the RBC Canadian Open in 2000, becoming the first since Lee Trevino in 1971 to win golf’s Triple Crown – the U.S., British, and Canadian Opens in the same year.”
  • “So was it the ultra-fine margin? The stakes? The absurdly improbable physics of the shot itself?”
  • “Yes. Yes. And yes. All of these things compelled Scott Verplank, among others, to call it “the greatest shot I’ve ever seen in my life,” Woods’ 218-yard masterstroke from the wet sand at the par-5 18th at Glen Abbey. Woods’ caddie Steve Williams would return to the bunker once the commotion had died down, still struggling to get his head around what he’d seen. Others have made the same pilgrimage and tried to visualize what Woods had, tried to feel what Woods felt, for this was magic.”
3. Thrive? Struggle? Survive? 
Golfweek’s Adam Schupak contemplates what’s ahead for the golf industry…”These are strange times living through a global pandemic. Suddenly, golf courses are packed in a way the industry hasn’t experienced since Tiger Woods was revolutionizing the game in the late 1990s and former PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem was predicting 50 million golfers by 2020.”
  • “Well, that didn’t happen, but golf has been given this new-found seal of approval highlighting its healthy aspects and its ability to provide safe recreation. As courses across the country re-open there is pent up demand among golfers to get out and play. Tee sheets are mostly filled and former golfers and those trying out the sport for the first time are emerging out of the woodwork desperate to be in the sunshine and doing something, anything that has been deemed “COVID OK.” There is renewed belief that golf can grab a bigger piece of the pie among recreational and entertainment options.”
4. Where were the women?
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols wonders…How can there be downside to two Sundays of golf taking center stage and raising mega-money for COVID-19 relief?”
  • “Well, there is no a downside, but it could’ve been more. As LPGA player Mel Reid tweeted during the TaylorMade Driving Relief Challenge, the broadcasts could’ve represented all of golf.”
  • “They could’ve included women.”
  • “…It would’ve been great to see an LPGA player and her sponsorship partners get in on the action in a similar fashion.”
  • “The TaylorMade event could’ve been a mixed-team format. Maria Fassi and Paula Creamer are both in Florida. Some of TaylorMade’s female stars could’ve also called in during the broadcast as Jon Rahm did. Staffers who could’ve called in include Natalie Gulbis, Muni He and Charley Hull. Sung Hyun Park, who speaks limited English, was involved in a charity exhibition in South Korea with current No. 1 Jin Young Ko. Women’s golf frequently takes center stage in that part of the world.”
5. 80% of golf retail open
From the NGF Q…”The number of physical golf retail outlets that are back in business continues to increase – from off-course stores and specialty club-fitters to green grass pro shops.”
  • “Approximately 66% of golf course pro shops are open at facilities that are open to play, the equivalent of almost 9 million square feet, although some states and counties have limitations on the number of customers permitted at one time. That percentage is up from 36% at the start of the month, but is unchanged over the past week as pro shops in at least 10 states (including Michigan, New Jersey, Illinois and New York) have government mandates that say they must remain closed inside to customers.”
  • “Meanwhile, approximately 79% of off-course golf retail stores were open (in terms of total square footage) through May 25. This is up from 73% last week and 59% two weeks ago. In early April, only about 4% of the 6.5 million square feet of total off-course golf specialty space was open to in-store traffic. Roughly 81% of all off-course retail stores are now open to customers.”
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GolfWRX Classifieds Spotlight (05/27/20): Adams, Mizuno, Ping

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At GolfWRX, we love golf equipment plain and simple

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment for the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball, it even allows us to share another thing – the equipment itself.

One of the best ways to enjoy equipment is to experiment and whether you are looking to buy-sell-or trade (as the name suggests) you can find almost anything in the GolfWRX BST Forum. From one-off custom Scotty Cameron Circle T putters, to iron sets, wedges, and barely hit drivers, you can find it all in our constantly updated marketplace.

These are some of the latest cool finds from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

Member Gator5 – Adams CMB Irons

Forged – check, Multi-Material construction – check, cool as all heck because these clubs are sweet and Adams made some really cool gear – check!

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Adams CMB Irons

Member Ksears – Brand New Mizuno MP20 Irons

Did someone say brand new Mizunos??? What else could you really want from a forged blade beside being meticulously crafted and forged in Japan – as well as being priced lower than retail.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link hereMP 20 Irons

Member 1hellaofashot – Ping G410 7 Wood

Speaking from experience let me just say this “stop denying the inevitable and embrace the 7 Wood” It’s endlessly versatile, more forgiving than a hybrid, and because this one for sale is a Ping G410 it is adjustable. Here’s your chance to dial in your own par 5 killer.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Ping 7 Wood

Remember that you can always browse the GolfWRX Classifieds any time here in our forums: GolfWRX Classifieds 

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