Celebrating Tiger Woods’ 48th birthday with 48 fun facts

Should there be 48 candles on the birthday cake when Tiger Woods greets the arrival of Dec. 30, we’ll assume few of us will be in attendance to see the glow.


No worries, because to celebrate the golfer who has established an endless list of records and produced enough highlights to fill dozens of reels, there are countless ways to commemorate the occasion.


May we suggest 48 noteworthy entries that speak to his brilliance:


1. It took Tiger just 291 days from his first round as a professional to rise to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, the quickest ascension to the top spot in OWGR history.


2. Tiger has been No. 1 a total of 683 weeks. The next four with the most weeks in the top spot – Greg Norman, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Nick Faldo – combine for 669 weeks.


3. Who finished first the most in the 31 times Woods was a runner-up? That would be Phil Mickelson, five times. On three occasions it was Vijay Singh. Ernie Els, Jim Furyk and Trevor Immelman had two each, then there were 17 players who did it once each.


4. In addition to his 15 major titles, he has seven runners-up in majors – three at the PGA Championship, two in the U.S. Open, twice in the Masters – proving that he made the most of his opportunities.


5. His 82 PGA TOUR victories have been spread over seven countries – two each in England and Scotland, one each in Spain, Canada, Ireland and Japan, and, of course, 74 in the Unites States. His domestic victories have come in 16 different states with Florida (16), California (14) and Ohio (13) his favorite playgrounds.


6. Tiger was the winner of the first FedExCup, in 2007. He then became the first two-time winner of the Cup two years later. Only Rory McIlroy (2016, ’19, ’22) has joined him as a multiple winner of the FedExCup.


7. Only once has Woods shot higher than 279 to win a major, that being the 283 he posted to win the 2008 U.S. Open.


8. Woods is a two-time winner of THE PLAYERS, and the only man to win the tournament in both March (2001) and May (2013). He also won the 1994 U.S. Amateur at TPC Sawgrass in August.


9. In his five Masters wins, Woods is just 17 under par in the first and final rounds. He’s a whopping 54 under in the middle two. His blueprint for winning at Augusta National? Start slow, finish modestly, but kick the field in the gut in Rounds 2 and 3.


10. In the stretch of 288 major championship holes that comprised the “Tiger Slam,” he made just one triple bogey and one double bogey, and he played four bogey-free rounds.


11. Jack Nicklaus has the higher total of major wins (18), but Woods’ average margin of victory in his 15 major wins is 4.13. Jack’s average margin of victory is 2.64.


12. If his career was just the 75 tournaments in which he played between 2005 and 2009, Woods’ 31 wins would leave him tied with Jimmy Demaret for 15th on the career list.


13. Ten times between 1997 and 2009, Tiger won the Jack Nicklaus Award for Player of the Year.


14. Tiger won the Byron Nelson Award for lowest scoring average nine times between 1999-2009.


15. Tiger won that first FedExCup in style, shooting the lowest 72-hole score of his career (257) to win the 2007 TOUR Championship by eight strokes. He shot 64-63-64 in the first three rounds, the lowest 54-hole score of his career, before closing with a 66.


16. So dominating was Woods that in three different seasons when he led the money list, he totaled more than what Nos. 2 and 3 had combined – 1999 (David Duval and Davis Love III were 2-3); 2000 (Mickelson, Ernie Els); and 2007 (Mickelson and Vijay Singh).


17. One could suggest Woods won seven consecutive major championships (for his age group) – the U.S. Junior Amateur in 1991-93, the U.S. Amateur in 1994-96 and the Masters in 1997.


18. Tiger was all but unbeatable in match play in the summer of 1994, winning the Pacific Northwest Amateur, Western Amateur and U.S. Amateur. His bid to add the California Amateur that year ended in the semifinals, but that tournament was still won by another player named Woods, Steve Woods (no relation).


19. Tiger had an early taste of outplaying PGA TOUR icons when he shot 77-74 to Johnny Miller’s 77-77 in a U.S. Open qualifier at Lake Merced in 1992. Neither player advanced, however. Miller was 45 years old and still had another PGA TOUR win in him, claiming the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Tiger was just 16.


20. One of the first things he said he learned upon enrolling at Stanford in 1994 was that the circle of gifted and talented students – academically and athletically – was enormous. “In high school,” he told reporters, “I set the curve. Here, I follow it.”


21. The World Golf Championships debuted in 1999, Woods’ fourth year as a pro, and he promptly took ownership. He won 16 of the first 33 WGCs and has 18 victories in all.


22. Were you to only count his triumphs at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Torrey Pines and Firestone (eight each), Tiger would equal Gary Player’s total of 24 PGA TOUR wins.


23. Factor in his five wins at Augusta National, five more at Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village, five at Cog Hill and four at Doral, and Woods has earned 52.4% of his 82 career wins at eight golf courses.


24. By age 6, Woods had already shared stages with three Hall of Famers. There was the well-chronicled appearance with Bob Hope (a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame) on the Mike Douglas Show in 1978; a 1981 appearance on “That’s Incredible” with host Fran Tarkenton (Pro Football Hall of Fame); and in 1982 he played two holes against Sam Snead (World Golf Hall of Fame) at the end of Snead’s outing.


25. Trips to San Diego for the Junior World Golf Championships were rather successful as Woods won five times in four different age divisions over four different courses. He won the 10-and-under division at Presidio in 1984; the 11-12 division in 1988 at Mission Bay; the 13-14 division at Balboa Park in 1989 and ’90; and the 15-17 division at Torrey Pines.


26. Woods’ win in the 2001 PLAYERS came just weeks before he won the Masters to complete the Tiger Slam, meaning he actually held golf’s five biggest titles simultaneously.


27. Away from the PGA TOUR spotlight, but truly an indicator of just what was about to be unleashed on the golf world grew out of the Johnnie Walker Classic in January 1998. Tied for 18th and eight behind the 54-hole leader, Ernie Els, Tiger came home in 65 to tie Els (73) and then won in a playoff.


28. From the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in early February 1998 to the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in May 2006, Tiger played in 142 consecutive tournaments without missing a cut. And it wasn’t like he was just sneaking under the cutline on Friday afternoon; he won 37 of those 142, or 26%.


29. In 2000, from the second round of the AT&T Byron Nelson (May 12) through the end of the season, Tiger was par or better in 47 consecutive rounds. He was 185 under par during this stretch and had a scoring average of 67.51.


30. The 1999-to-2003 stretch was epic: He won 32 of 101 tournaments, a winning percentage of 31.7, and captured seven majors. He won five of six majors from the 1999 PGA to the 2001 Masters – with a fifth-place finish at Augusta in 2000 the lone non-win. He won seven of 11 majors from the 1999 PGA to the 2002 U.S. Open. Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead each won seven majors in their careers.


31. Then again, 2005-2009 wasn’t too shabby, either: 31 wins in 75 starts, a clip of 41.3, with six majors.


32. In those 10 seasons (1999-2003; 2005-09) Tiger’s longest winless drought was seven tournaments. His longest droughts in 2000 and 2009 were three tournaments.


33. The answer is: Phil Mickelson. The question: Who put a stop to Tiger’s six-tournament winning streak at the 2000 Farmers Insurance Open? Woods had won four in a row to close out 1999, then his first two tournaments of 2000 before Lefty shot 18 under to beat Woods by four.


34. The answer is: Nick O’Hern. The question: Who is the other lefthander to halt an impressive winning streak? Woods had won seven tournaments in a row (last six of 2006, first one in 2007) when O’Hern, an unheralded Aussie, beat Woods in 20 holes in Round 3 of the WGC-Dell Match Play Championship at Dove Mountain outside of Tucson, Arizona.


35. Tiger is one of five players to win the career Grand Slam, but he did it more quickly (only 15 major starts as a professional) than Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus.


36. Only Tiger and Jack have won the career Grand Slam three times over.


37. The epic run of four straight major wins from the 2000 U.S. Open to the 2001 Masters produced these numbers: 67.69 scoring average for 16 rounds, 65 under par combined, and 15 of his 16 rounds were under par (and he was level par in the other).


38. Tiger did compile an impressive two-year collegiate resume – 11 victories in 26 tournaments and the NCAA individual championship in 1996. In that win, he was steamrolling the field so impressively that he closed with an 80 – and still won by four over Rory Sabbatini.


39. Prelude to the “Tiger Slam”: Seven down with seven holes, left, Tiger plays Nos. 12-18 in 5 under (including a hole-out eagle on the par-4 15th), shoots 31 on the back, 64 in Round 4 and stuns Matt Gogel in the 2000 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, his sixth straight win. “I was amazed, to be quite honest. I will not ever be amazed again,” said Gogel.


40. “Tiger Slam, Act 1”: Again at Pebble, Tiger closes in 67 for a 15-shot win in the 2000 U.S. Open. “My words probably can’t describe it, so I’m not even going to try,” said Ernie Els.


41. “Tiger Slam, Act II”: Less dominating, but only by a little, Tiger wins The Open by eight at the Old Course at St. Andrews. At 24, he completes the career Grand Slam. “He is the chosen one,” said Mark Calcavecchia.


42. “Tiger Slam, Act III”: Becoming only the second player (Ben Hogan, in 1953) to win three professional majors in a season, Woods beats Bob May in playoff at the PGA Championship. “Hogan had tremendous focus and I think you’re seeing Tiger is now getting to that,” said Butch Harmon.


43. “Tiger Slam, Act IV”: An unprecedented fourth straight major win is completed at the 2001 Masters and it comes with a final-round 68 while paired with his arch-rival, Phil Mickelson, who shoots 70 and didn’t seem to soak in the atmosphere. “I didn’t watch him play a stroke. I just looked up and saw the ball going in,” said Lefty after Tiger’s birdie at the 72nd hole ignites thunder.


44. Tiger was sidelined by knee surgery after winning the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, halting a truly dominant stretch. The 2008 U.S. Open was his 17th win in 28 starts. Curtis Strange and Jim Furyk each had 17 wins in their entire careers.


45. That dominant 1999-2000 period? Tiger played 151 rounds and had at least a share of the lead after 50 of them.


46. Woods made the cut at the 2023 Masters, his 23rd consecutive trip to the weekend at Augusta National, tying Fred Couples and Gary Player for most all-time. The last two (2022, ’23) came after suffering severe injuries to both legs in a 2021 car crash.


47. Woods has allocated ample time to course design in recent years. The 2023 World Wide Technology Championship was played at the Woods-designed El Cardonal at Diamante in Mexico, the first Woods design to host a PGA TOUR event.


48. On March 9, 2022, the day before THE PLAYERS Championship got under way, Tiger was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.



Gideon Canice

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *