Tiger Woods will turn 40 on Dec. 30.
If that makes you feel old, look at the bright side: Over the last two-plus decades you’ve had the privilege of watching a once-in-a-generation talent dominate the game in ways once thought unthinkable. If Woods turning 40 makes him seem old, well, god bless your youth — and the power of the Internet, where you’re just a couple of search terms away from catching up on any Tiger highlight that might have predated you.
The journey to Tiger’s big 4-oh has been quite a ride, not only for Woods but also for the millions of fans he has strapped in and taken along with him. Just as you might remember where you where when you watched the U.S. hockey team upset the Soviets in Lake Placid or Buster Douglas down Iron Mike, you also likely remember your whereabouts when Woods won the 1997 Masters, or the 2000 U.S. Open — by 15. Call it the Tiger Effect.
Surely you also recall the moment when you first heard reports of that bizarre Thanksgiving night in 2009 when Woods’s world began to unravel. Or, when five months later, he made his endlessly hyped return from tabloid infamy to challenge for the green jacket.
The scope of indelible Tiger moments is staggering. It would be nutty to try to rank them in terms of their impactfulness, but to commemorate Tiger’s milestone birthday, that’s exactly what we here at GOLF.com have done. Over the next 40 days, GOLF.com will roll out Tiger’s 40 biggest moments, finishing with No. 1 on Tiger’s 40th birthday. To recap: That’s 40 Tiger moments. In 40 days. Ranked.
Love our choices? Loathe ’em? Have your own Tiger moment that you’d like to share? Let us know about it on our Facebook page, Twitter feed or in the comments section below. In the meantime, drumroll, please…
Head to the next page for the 39th biggest Tiger Woods moment.
No. 39 — Defeating Stephen Ames 9&8
“Anything can happen, especially where he’s hitting the ball.”
Tiger Woods has never lacked for motivation, but Stephen Ames’ observation about the state of Tiger’s game in the prelude to their first-round showdown at the 2006 Cadillac Match Play was the equivalent of pouring gasoline on a fire.
Woods was the No. 1 overall seed in the 64-man field at La Costa, in Southern California; Ames was the last man in. Woods had won the Buick Invitational the previous month, but withdrew from the Nissan Open one week earlier with the flu. Not that you could tell in his clash with Ames.
Woods opened the match with six straight birdies and won every hole on the front nine. When they halved the 10th hole with pars, Woods had closed out Ames in resounding and embarassing fashion and set the record for largest margin of victory at the Match Play. After the beatdown, Woods was asked if was aware of the pre-match comments by Ames.
“9 and 8,” he woofed.
Did the words spark the thrashing?
“You might say that. As I said, ‘9 and 8.'”
Check back on GOLF.com every day until Tiger’s birthday on December 30 for a new moment in our TIGER@40 countdown.
No. 40: Tiger wins 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitation, Unleashes Epic Hat Throw on 72nd Green