Tiger's transgressions blotted the book

Golf

Tiger's transgressions blotted the book


Tiger Woods had his hands full nearing the end of the year.

After several women went public with their alleged affairs, sport’s first billionaire, who had carefully spent much of his career crafting an image of sport’s Mr Nice admitted to “transgressions”, without elaborating and decided to take an indefinite break from the game.

But if the wheels came off at the end of the year, it was not all doom and gloom throughout the season, as Woods won six tournaments on the PGA Tour, took the FedEx title and won more than $20 million in the process.

However, by his own standards, the season was probably not as good a year as he would have liked to have had and probably expected. After all, he failed — for the first time since 2004 — to pick up a Major and remains four Majors behind Jack Nicklaus.

In April, Argentine Angel Cabrera won a three-way play-off with Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell to take the Masters - giving him his second career Major. “This is a great moment for any golfer, to win the Masters. I’m so emotional I can barely talk,” he said after sinking a tap-in putt at the 10th hole - the second extra hole.

Just a few weeks later, the US Open provided another unlikely winner when Lucas Glover held on in the final round to win by two from favourites like Phil Mickelson and David Duval. Going into the Open, the 29-year-old had won just once on the PGA Tour, at the Funai Classic in 2005, and had never even made the cut at the US Open.

Glover looked as if he had thrown it all away when he fell behind on the last few holes but a birdie at the 16th took him back ahead, and he parred the last two holes under pressure to clinch victory. Veteran golfer Tom Watson came agonisingly close at the British Open in Turnberry to creating history when he lost a four-hole play-off by six strokes.

American Stewart Cink, who spent 39 weeks in the top 10 from 2004 to 2008, arguably became the least-liked of all major winners when he finally won a big one in his 56th major and 12th British Open since turning professional in 1995.

The PGA Championships offered Woods the final opportunity of the year to add to his Major’s tally and going into the final round, the world number one had a two-stroke lead. Woods had never lost a Major when holding the lead or a tie for the lead after three rounds, but this time around, at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota, he was found wanting.

Two bogeys on the front nine dropped Woods back to 6-under-par, giving his challengers a chance.

Ye Yang was the one who picked up the gauntlet and a spectacular chip-in from the bunker at the short-par four 14th hole, saw the Korean move ahead by one stroke.
Yang bogeyed the 17th hole but so did Woods and with the American off the green in two at the 18th, Yang birdied the final hole to clinch the biggest victory of his career, beating Woods by three shots.

The 37-year-old, who grew up on Jeju-do, Korea, became the first Asian player ever to win a Major — and that even though he had never even lifted a golf club before his 19th birthday.

And so to a new year and even though he failed to win a Major, all the focus will — once again — be on Woods as he needs to rebuild his tarnished image and continue to chase Nicklaus’ record of 18 Majors.

Few doubt that the 33-year-old will manage to win more Majors, but rebuilding his  image to what it was before his car crash could prove more difficult.

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