The best statistical performances from Tiger's 82 wins
October 20, 2020
By Justin Ray , 15th Club for PGATOUR.COM
- October 20, 2020
Tiger Woods’ success at Sherwood Country Club
Last year’s ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP was Tiger Woods’ record-tying 82nd victory on the PGA TOUR. This week, he defends that title in the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP @ SHERWOOD. It will be the first time since August 2014 that he will play an event as the defending champion.
This will be Woods’ eighth attempt at his 83rd PGA TOUR victory, an achievement that would move him ahead of Sam Snead and into first place alone on the career wins list.
Of those first 82, which were the most impressive from a statistical perspective? What parts of Woods’ game shined brightest in the biggest moments? Some answers were tougher to deduce than others, but I tried to answer those questions. Here are Woods' best statistical performances from his 82 wins.
Off the Tee: 2009 Memorial Tournament
Woods’ performance at the 2009 Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide was a statistical masterpiece off the tee. He led the field in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee, but didn’t do it how you may think. Woods hit 87.5% of his fairways, tying his highest percentage as a professional in a PGA TOUR event. That included a run of 18 straight fairways hit to conclude a one-shot victory over Jim Furyk.
Non-ShotLink division: 1997 Masters: To this day, partly because of the course changes that came after Woods' 12-shot win, a 21-year-old Woods holds the Masters Tournament single-week average driving distance record, at 323.1 yards. Woods’ advantage over the field average that week was an incomprehensible 46 yards per drive (277.1). For perspective, Bryson DeChambeau averaged 322.1 yards off the tee in 2019-2020, 25.7 yards further than the TOUR average for the season.
Woods also hit 47 fairways for the week, one fewer than he hit two years prior as an amateur. Since statistical tracking began about 40 years ago, there are two instances where a player averaged 310 or more yards and hit 45 or more fairways in a Masters. Both were Woods (1995 and 1997).
AVERAGING 300+ OFF THE TEE AND HITTING 45+ FAIRWAYS AT AUGUSTA NATIONAL Player (Year) Driving Distance Fairways hit Finish Tiger Woods (1997) 323.1 yards 47 1st Tiger Woods (1995) 311.1 48 T41 Davis Love III (1995) 306.5 49 2nd Bubba Watson (2018) 304.0 47 T5 Sandy Lyle (1994) 301.9 46 T38
Approach Play: 2006 THE NORTHERN TRUST
Woods’ performance in the 2000 U.S. Open is the most dominant in the game’s history, and his iron play was a huge part of it. We’ll get to that tournament in a moment, but first we’ll look at his best approach performance in the ShotLink era: the 2006 THE NORTHERN TRUST at TPC Boston. That week, Woods racked up a staggering 14.6 Strokes Gained: Approach, six strokes more than anyone else in the field (Robert Karlsson was second, at 8.31). It’s the most Strokes Gained: Approach for Woods in any single event in his career. The 2006 season saw Woods reach iron play levels not seen by anyone since: he averaged a TOUR-best 2.07 Strokes Gained: Approach per round, the best single-season mark in ShotLink history.
Non-ShotLink division: 2000 U.S. Open: During a week in which the field hit less than 50% of the greens in regulation (48.4%), Woods hit 70.8% for the tournament. His 51 greens hit in regulation were seven more than anyone else (Fred Couples and David Toms each hit 44) and translated to a field-best 21 birdies. Arguably the most dominating performance in pro sports history, Woods’ 2000 U.S. Open victory is nearly impossible to top from a ball-striking perspective.
Short Game: 2009 Arnold Palmer Invitational
At Bay Hill in 2009, Woods lost strokes to the field on his drives and approach shots (-0.43 for the tournament), yet still got to shake Mr. Palmer’s hand and lift the trophy that Sunday afternoon. He did it through sensational short-game play, getting up and down for par 24 times, his most across 79 stroke-play victories on TOUR. Woods led the field for the week in Strokes Gained: Around-The-Green, at 1.69 per round.
Non-ShotLink division: 1999 Walt Disney World Classic: Honorable mention here goes to another Orlando-area win 10 years prior, at the 1999 Disney Classic. That week, Woods was a perfect 13-for-13 scrambling and claimed a one-shot victory despite seven three-putts. In the last 35 years, it’s one of just four instances where a player had a perfect scrambling percentage for 72 holes (with ten or more attempts) and went on to win the tournament.
Putting: 2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational
Woods’ legacy of clutch putts makes this category maybe the most difficult to lock down. From ‘Better Than Most’ at the 2001 PLAYERS to ‘Expect Anything Different’ at the 2008 U.S. Open (both victories, by the way), memories of big moments abound from Woods’ halcyon days.
The most complete putting performance, statistically speaking, might have come at Bay Hill in 2013. Woods had 11.2 Strokes Gained: Putting for the week, by far his most in a win since ShotLink tracking began in 2004. He led the field in approach putt performance (a stat that measures lag putting ability) and made nearly 100 feet of putts per round. Woods’ 14 putts made outside 10 feet that week are tied for his second-most in any single PGA TOUR event.
Best Comeback: 2000 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
While one triumph at Pebble Beach in 2000 has already been mentioned, what Woods did earlier that year at that same site was awe-inspiring, as well. At the 2000 AT&TPebble Beach Pro-Am, Woods trailed by seven strokes with nine holes to play. After a hole-out for eagle at 15, Woods birdied two of the last three to card a bogey-free 64 and win by two strokes.
The previous year at Torrey Pines, Woods was tied for 36th place entering the third round, nine shots behind leader Ted Tryba. Woods shot 62-65 on the weekend to win by two strokes. It marks the only time in Woods’ career he has won when outside the top 25 through 36 holes.
TIGER'S WORST 36-HOLE POSITION IN HIS VICTORIES Event Position after 36 holes 1999 Farmers Insurance Open T36 2009 Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide T24 2006 Farmers Insurance Open T22 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard T20
Most Dominant: 2000 U.S. Open
There are only two instances since 1900 where a player won a major championship by double digits. Both of those performances were turned in by Woods before he turned 25. Three years after the unthinkable 12-stroke runaway at Augusta National, Woods’ 15-shot destruction of the field at Pebble Beach re-wrote the top lines in golf’s record books, seemingly in uncrackable stone.
While the 2000 U.S. Open (+29.21 Strokes Gained: Total) and 1997 Masters (+25.86) are easily listed as the two most dominant victories of Woods’ legendary career, the intrigue comes when pondering what win is next on the list. By Strokes Gained: Total, it’s the 2008 Farmers Insurance Open (+23.51), an eight-stroke romp at Torrey Pines where Woods led the field by a wide margin in Strokes Gained: Approach.
By simply margin of victory, there are two others vying for the bronze: the 2003 Arnold Palmer Invitational and the 2000 WGC Invitational, both won by eleven strokes. Woods accounts for more than half of the double-digit wins on the PGA TOUR over the last 30 seasons (four of seven). In the 2000 PGA TOUR season, Woods had more wins by 11 strokes or more (two) than rounds of 74 or higher (one).
How about the 2005 Open at St. Andrews? Woods won wire-to-wire (no ties after any round) and ended with a five stroke margin of victory – the only player to do both of those things at an Open Championship since World War II.
For the most dominant player of his era, the choices seem endless.
TIGER'S MOST STROKES GAINED: TOTAL IN HIS WINS Event Strokes Gained: Total 2000 U.S. Open +29.21 strokes 1997 Masters +25.86 2008 Farmers Insurance Open +23.51 2003 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard +22.42 2006 THE NORTHERN TRUST +21.81