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A look back at Tiger Woods’ five Hero victories

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A look back at Tiger Woods’ five Hero victories



    Before his son Charlie became his co-star in Decembers, the Hero World Challenge offered the golf world one last glimpse of Tiger Woods before hitting pause for the holidays.

    Woods started the tournament around the turn of the century to benefit his foundation. In more than two decades of existence, the small, but star-studded, gathering has offered many memorable moments. Woods has been the host with the most five times, winning the Hero to cap off some of the best years of his career. More recently, the tournament has offered us a rare glimpse of Woods while he has been sidelined by injuries, becoming a de facto “State of Tiger” gathering as he’s conducted candid press conferences about his health, launched comeback attempts or even just hit balls before curious observers, as he did last year.

    He is back in this year’s field, his first Hero start since 2019, when he was the reigning Masters champion and preparing for a successful stint as the U.S. Presidents Cup Team’s playing captain.

    Woods is coming off a year that saw him make an unexpected return to competitive golf at the Masters but also saw him play just three times as his surgically-repaired right leg struggled with the rigors of tournament golf.

    To get you ready for Woods’ return to the Hero – and his first competitive appearance since July – here’s a look at his five victories in the Hero World Challenge.

    2001
    Venue: Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
    Final round: 64, 273 (-15)
    Margin of victory: Three shots over Vijay Singh (71)

    Tiger Woods used a trademark comeback to win his Hero World Challenge for the first time. He was four down to Vijay Singh when he sprayed his tee shot on Sherwood Country Club’s ninth hole over a creek and onto the thick brush on the side of a hill. He took a penalty drop, hit his next shot under the bleachers behind the green and then watched his chip off a hardpan lie roll 45 feet past the cup. Woods holed the lengthy bogey putt, however. Singh failed to capitalize on Woods’ miscues, making a bogey of his own to stay just four ahead.

    “It was a huge momentum swing,” said Woods, who shot 30, including five birdies in a row, to beat Singh by seven over the final nine holes.

    It completed an eventful year that saw Woods complete the Tiger Slam and win his first PLAYERS Championship. He’d go on to win five more times in 2002, including the Masters and U.S. Open.

    Woods’ final-round 64 at Sherwood tied the course record. He donated his $1 million winner’s check to the Tiger Woods Foundation.

    “With a field like this, it feels great to win,” Woods said. “Winning this tournament gives me the same feeling as winning any tournament.”

    2004
    Venue: Sherwood Country Club
    Final round: 66, 268 (-16)
    Margin of victory: Two shots over Padraig Harrington (66)

    Woods was a ball-striking machine, missing just two fairways and two greens, as he collected his second Hero World Challenge victory. His final-round 66 was good enough for a two-shot win over Padraig Harrington, which would have been more had Woods putted well.

    This one was especially gratifying as Woods was still solidifying swing changes and had just come off an odd year of close calls: 10 top-10 finishes without a victory after his lone win that year, at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

    “Probably ’98 was more difficult,” Woods said of his 2004 swing overhaul, “but certainly this one I got a lot more badgering from you guys. I got a lot more questions, ‘What are you doing?’ Because I had a great run for like five years, back in ’97. Yeah, I was dismantling my golf swing and … people thought I was crazy there.”

    Also gratifying: His father, Earl Woods, whose health problems had limited his activity, was on site to see him win.

    2006
    Venue: Sherwood Country Club
    Final round: 66, 272 (-16)
    Margin of victory: Four shots over Geoff Ogilvy (71)

    It was a bittersweet year for Woods, whose father, Earl, passed away in the spring.

    Tiger missed the cut in his first event back, the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, but won The Open Championship a month later, crying on caddie Steve Williams’ shoulder. It was the first of six wins in six starts for Woods, including two majors (The Open, PGA Championship) and two WGCs (Bridgestone Invitational, American Express Championship).

    By the time he got to Sherwood, he hadn’t lost in five months. He started the final round one behind Geoff Ogilvy, the winner earlier in the year at Winged Foot, but erased that deficit with two early birdies, including a chip-in at the third hole, and an Ogilvy bogey at the second. It was all Woods the rest of the way.

    Although he had been distracted by Earl’s poor health for the first part of the season, he’d still managed early wins at Torrey Pines and Doral, and racked up six more after his father’s passing. The gaudy totals: 15 official PGA TOUR starts, eight wins, one second, one third, 11 top-10s.

    And another victory in what would become the Hero World Challenge.

    “It’s been a year of two halves, really,” he said.

    2007
    Venue: Sherwood Country Club
    Final round: 68, 266 (-22)
    Margin of victory: Seven shots over Zach Johnson (68)

    Woods had concluded his 2007 season with four wins in five starts, along with winning the inaugural FedExCup. He would win his first three starts of 2008, as well.

    In between, Woods, then 31, took a lengthy competitive hiatus after the Presidents Cup in September. It didn’t show at Sherwood. He dusted off the clubs 10 days before the event, carded a second-round 62 to jump ahead of the pack and cruised to the event’s largest margin of victory at the time (Jordan Spieth won by 10 shots in 2014).

    Woods’ daughter Sam, 6 months old at the time, was on the scene for congratulations, as he punctuated a campaign that featured seven TOUR titles including the PGA Championship at Southern Hills.

    That season, Woods ranked No. 1 on TOUR in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and No. 2 in Strokes Gained: Putting. Seemingly his form had never been better. But he wasn’t convinced.

    “Obviously, I’ve got a lot of room for improvement, which is a great sign,” he said. “Just imagine if I could hit the ball the way I wanted.”

    Even Woods had to be pleased with what awaited in 2008, which was on pace to be one of his best years before it was interrupted by knee surgery. He won four of his six starts and finished second at the Masters. His worst showing was a fifth-place finish in the World Golf Championship at Doral. His campaign ended with one of his most famous victories, the 2008 U.S. Open.

    2011
    Venue: Sherwood Country Club
    Final round: 69, 278 (-10)
    Margin of victory: One shot over Zach Johnson (71)

    Woods hadn’t won worldwide since the Australian Masters in November 2009. For a player who had accrued 71 PGA TOUR titles by age 33, it was a monumental drought brought on by the prolonged effects of personal scandal.

    Woods, then 35, trailed Zach Johnson by one stroke with two holes to play. Then came a vintage Tiger finish. He drew even with a curling 15-foot birdie at the par-3 17th, and after Johnson missed a 15-foot birdie at the finishing hole, Woods made birdie from 6 feet to secure a one-stroke victory.

    The emotion was palpable as Woods released a fist to the sky amidst a southern Californian roar.

    “It feels awesome, whatever it is,” said Woods of the winning emotion. “I had the lead at the Masters on the back nine, and had a chance at the Aussie Open. So this is my third time with a chance to win; I pulled it off this time.”

    The following March, Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard for his first TOUR win since the 2009 BMW Championship. It was his first of three 2012 TOUR wins, before winning five times in 2013.

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