The Tiger Slam: When Woods was king of golf

Tiger Woods’ career has had many peaks, but, undoubtedly, the pinnacle came over 11 months between 2000 and 2001 when he was, for a while, unbeatable. The American was only five years into his professional career when he completed his own clean sweep of the majors by winning the Masters to hold all four of golf’s premier titles at the same time.

Tiger Woods is presented with his second green jacket at Augusta in 2001. Picture: Harry How/Allsport
Tiger Woods is presented with his second green jacket at Augusta in 2001. Picture: Harry How/Allsport

It was not the grand slam of winning all four titles in the same calendar year, but it was the closest anyone has come to it and took on a life of its own as the Tiger Slam.

In 1953 Ben Hogan won the Masters, the US Open and the Open Championship but could not get back to the States in time to play in the US PGA and so Woods’ achievement was the closest anyone had come to cracking what has become known as the “impenetrable quadrilateral”. In 1930 Bobby Jones, under a different major structure, had won all four in the same year but in terms of the ‘modern era’ it was unprecedented.

Sign up to our daily newsletter


Woods had already underlined his talent with two majors but the way in which he strode to his third at one of his favourite courses took things to another level entirely. He finished 12 under par – a record for the US Open – and his 15-stroke winning margin was the best at any major, eclipsing that of Old Tom Morris (13) dating way to 1862. “Records are great, but you don’t really pay attention to that. The only thing I know is I got the trophy sitting right next to me,” said Woods afterwards.


It was no coincidence the Tiger Slam was achieved on courses Woods had a liking for and St Andrews is another personal favourite. This victory, which completed his career grand slam, was more about strategy than the explosive power for which he had become known as Woods avoided going in any of the Old Course’s bunkers for all four rounds. In doing so, he set an Old Course record of 19 under for 72 holes as he won by eight strokes. “It’s the ultimate. Having won the US Open and The Open is amazing. I’m fortunate to have achieved this feat so early in my career,” said Woods.


Things were a lot closer in Kentucky, although that did not stop Woods winning with a record-equalling championship record of 18 under. He held the lead or joint-lead for the first three rounds but found himself needing to hole a six-foot putt at the 72nd hole to get into a play-off against Bob May. Woods’ experience told as he birdied the first extra hole and held that advantage over the remaining two additional holes.


Such had been his imperious form in the previous three majors, a Woods victory at Augusta was not only anticipated, it was expected. An opening 70 left him five off the lead but he moved through the gears with rounds of 66 and 68 to head into the final round with a one-shot lead. Another round in the 60s saw him hold off the challenge of Phil Mickelson and David Duval to win by two. “To win four consecutive majors, if you look at my career, I don’t think I have ever accomplished anything this great,” Woods said.