Over 40 days, GOLF.com is rolling out Tiger Woods’ 40 biggest moments. Our ranking started on Nov. 21 and will culminate on Dec. 30, which is Tiger’s 40th birthday. That’s 40 Tiger moments. In 40 days. Ranked. Click here to learn more about our list.
Tiger’s 40 Biggest Moments: No. 13 – Battling Sergio at the 1999 PGA Championship
Tiger Woods was only 23, but he’d already copped a major at the ’97 Masters. He was poised to dominate for decades. Who would test him?
Sergio Garcia, 19, had rocked the amateur ranks before falling apart (89-83) in his first professional major, the ’99 British Open at Carnoustie.
The two young pros clashed at the ’99 PGA at Medinah, which at 7,401 yards was the longest course in major championship history. Woods took a five-shot lead through 11 holes on Sunday, but fell back. Garcia hung tough and made a long birdie putt on 13, then looked back at Woods on the tee. “I was kind of telling him,” Garcia said later, “‘If you want to win, you have to play well.'”
The moment was soon forgotten, though, because three holes later, Garcia swung a six-iron from the base of a tree and closed his eyes through the shot in case his club hit a root and exploded. The shot came off perfectly, and he ran up the fairway after it, the picture of youthful exuberance.
Garcia would sign for a final-round 71, but Woods’s 72, including a bloodless par on 17, where he made a slick eight-foot putt to save par from behind the green, was enough to win by one. Still, the tournament seemed to herald a rivalry that would keep us entertained for years. SI’s Alan Shipnuck even declared Woods and Garcia the new “Newman and Redford” of golf.
Okay, it didn’t turn out that way. But we’ll always have Medinah.
Check back on GOLF.com every day until Tiger’s birthday on Dec. 30 for a new moment in our TIGER@40 countdown.
No. 16: Hello, World
No. 22: The Apology Press Conference
No. 25: Signs First Deal With Nike
No. 27: Winning Back-to-Back Masters
No. 30: Ugly Breakup With Steve Williams
No. 33: Relationship With Lindsey Vonn
No. 35: A Shot in the Dark at Firestone
No. 36: Television Debut at Age 2