March 16, 2010
Jack Nicklaus once said of Tiger Woods that the kid might win 10 green jackets. That was before he took down Augusta National by 12 shots in 1997. After that, then buddy Jesper Parnevik upped the ante -- "Unless they build Tiger tees about 50 yards back, he's going to win the next 20 of these."
With Tiger heading back to Augusta National a different man that the last time we saw him pounce around the famed links, it's interested to look back and see how he has faired over the course of his career at the season's opening major championship.
Here is how he finished as a professional at the Masters.
1997 -- Won -- Tiger missed the cut as an amateur the year before at Augusta, and opened his first professional visit with a 4-over 40 on the front night Thursday. How'd he fare after that? Cooly posting a 6-under 30 on the back, finishing 18-under for the week, the lowest score ever shot at the Masters. His win caused the tournament to grow rough, extend tees and change the course from "fairly difficult if the wind blows" to "nearly impossible if the winds swirl."
1998 -- T-8 -- In the midst of swing changes, Tiger couldn't get anything going, failing to break 70 in each of the four rounds and watching one of his best buddies on tour, Mark O'Meara, capture one of two majors he'd claim that season.
1999 -- T-18 -- Coming off a year where Woods won only once, an early victory at the Buick Invitational made it appear like Tiger would be ready to once again claim a green jacket. Another year, another four rounds in the 70s, never making much of a roar from behind the leaders.
2000 -- 5 -- A win at the 1999 PGA Championship over Sergio Garcia had Woods back on the major bandwagon, but an opening round 75 was too much to overcome. The closest Woods has ever come to winning all four majors in the same season, Tiger would go on to take the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship this season.
2001 -- Won -- Tiger completed the Tiger Slam in typical Woods fashion, making this Masters win his third straight victory of 2001 and beating David Duval by a shot. It was his fourth straight major win and was two shots off his 1997 record at the Masters.
2002 -- Won -- The only time Tiger has been able to successfully defend his title at the Masters, making it his third green jacket in six years. At this point, the Parnevik quote seemed pretty accurate, as Woods swept a loaded leaderboard by three shots.
2003 -- T-15 -- A strange week for Woods, who opened with a 76 and closed with a 75, and was only able to break par once all week. This was only the second time Woods failed to finish in the top-10 at a Masters to this point.
2004 -- T-22 -- The worst finish of his career at the Masters came with another poor opening round by Woods. Tiger has never broke 70 in the first round at Augusta National, and a 75 on Thursday put him far back and he wasn't able to overcome it when he duplicated that number on Saturday.
2005 -- Won -- Make it four green jackets for Woods after he took down Chris DiMarco in a playoff, the only time he's been pushed to extra holes at the Masters. DiMarco had a chip to win it, but failed to convert, and Tiger cooly rolled in a birdie putt on the first playoff hole to be king at Augusta once more.
2006 -- T-3 -- As Phil Mickelson was claiming his second green jacket, Tiger was struggling to take it low on the new-look Augusta National. Four rounds in the 70s, and three shots back of Lefty meant Tiger wouldn't win back to back for the second time in his career.
2007 -- T-2 -- Tiger sandwiched this second place finish between two wins in 2007, but a tough week at Augusta was won by Zach Johnson at 1-over par, tying the highest winning score ever at the Masters.
2008 -- 2 -- Trevor Immelman was able to squeeze past Tiger, who couldn't get anything rolling on Sunday and had to settle for an even-par 72, finishing runner-up for the second straight year at Augusta. Tiger's third round 68 gave him a chance on Sunday, but two bogeys on the back nine and no birdies on either par-5s just weren't good enough to do it.
2009 -- T-6 -- In one of the most exciting non-final groups in Masters history, Tiger and Phil were in the same group on Sunday, and Lefty took Tiger to town on the front nine. Phil's opening nine was done in 30 shots, while Tiger "struggled" to just a 33, but Tiger held it together on the back nine and ended up with a 68 to Phil's 67. Neither were good enough to make a three-man playoff that was eventually won by Angel Cabrera.