2002: Woods wins second consecutive Masters
After Masters Tournament title No. 1, the father said his only begotten son was the messiah.
When the son won Masters No. 2, becoming the first man to hold all four major championships at one time, the father said his son would change the world.
Earl Woods, the master of hyperbole, tones down his act with each Masters Tiger Woods wins. Take Sunday, for example, when the father said the son simply had that special something, something that no other player in the world can seem to find.
"He has an advantage over everyone because of how he thinks out there," the elder Woods said. "Once he has the lead, he has it in his mind that he isn't going to give it up."
After three Masters triumphs and three attempts to explain his son's greatness, Earl Woods may finally have gotten it right.
Tiger Woods is not God or Gandhi. But ask his inner circle and the players he regularly beats on Tour, and the response is universal: More than talent, Woods thinks the game at a level unlike anyone on the planet.
That theory proved an open-and-shut case Sunday afternoon at Augusta National Golf Club, as Woods rolled to a three-stroke win over Retief Goosen for his second-straight Masters title, his third in six years and his seventh career major championship victory.
"He has to have incredible inner confidence and belief in himself," said Brad Faxon, who finished 10 shots behind Woods for a tie for 12th place. "He doesn't let anything take him out of his place. It's tough to play with Tiger. He's the best player in the world and he doesn't give you any room to maneuver."As the rest of the players on the leaderboard folded under the pressure Sunday, Woods was unflappable.
Even when he erred, the 26-year-old never lost focus. He bogeyed the fifth hole Sunday, then birdied No. 6. He bogeyed No. 11, then rebounded with three pars and a birdie.
The master of minimizing mistakes? Woods is the undisputed king.
In becoming the third player to win back-to-back Masters, Woods made 14 bogeys in eight rounds. He followed those bogeys with six birdies and eight pars.
Woods has held or shared the lead at 25 PGA Tour events entering the final round. He has won 23 of them, including his three Masters and all seven majors.
"You just know Tiger is not going to make any big mistakes," said Goosen, who played in the final group Sunday with Woods and opened his round with three bogeys on the front nine to fall from a tie for the lead to five shots back.
"I think the thing with Tiger is he's the only leader that you don't have hope that he'll falter," said Phil Mickelson, who began and ended the final round four shots behind Woods, finishing third. "When other guys are up there, you know that if you can just stay around there, there's a good chance they might come back two or three shots. But Tiger doesn't seem to ever do that."
Woods is also in a league of his own when it comes to making the big shot at the right time.
"You know, you have to just kind of focus and bear down and you know those shots are crucial," Woods said.
Case in point: At the sixth hole Sunday, Woods made his chip from behind the green for a birdie to move to 13-under, extending his lead to four shots over Goosen.
"From there on, no one was really putting any pressure on him," Goosen said. "I think he was just cruising in."
Cruising to a place that left even Earl Woods at a loss for words.
"All I can say is it's great," he said. "Just great."
CHANGES TO THE COURSE
Advances in golf technology threatened to make Augusta National obsolete in the early 2000s.
Golfers were hitting short clubs into the longest par-4s, and reaching the par-5s in two was not difficult for the world’s best players.
Hootie Johnson, the club’s chairman, had had enough. He ordered a major facelift before the 2002 Masters.
“Our objective is to keep this golf course current,” he said.
Nine holes – Nos. 1, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14 and 18 – were lengthened, stretching the course to 7,270 yards. Tees on four holes (Nos. 8, 10, 11 and 18) were shifted slightly, and bunkers on Nos. 1, 8 and 18 were enlarged.
Though some players didn’t care for the changes, it didn’t keep them from going low. Davis Love III took the lead with an opening 67, and Vijay Singh scorched the layout for 65 in the second round.
Defending champion Tiger Woods wasn’t far off the pace. He opened with rounds of 70 and 69 and grabbed a share of the 54-hole lead after firing 66. That left him on top with South African Retief Goosen.
Woods needed only 71 in the final round to win his third green jacket.
Goosen never mounted a serious threat, and Woods joined Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo as the only men to ever successfully defend their titles at Augusta National.