Tiger Woods is undoubtedly the most dominant golfer of all time. He holds numerous records and awards, including the most PGA Tour wins in history. Woods is tied with Sam Snead with 82 career PGA Tour wins. Many people will remember the 15 major wins, but the other 67 have their own story and are equally impressive.
When Tiger was on the prowl, he was an unstoppable force and at the top of the PGA odds for every tournament. A golf bet on Woods would often payout. With the pomp and circumstance that come with the Majors, the non-major wins are often overlooked. This article will rank the top five non-major wins in Woods’ career and give the backstory for each one.
5. Arnold Palmer Invitational (2009)
The Arnold Palmer Invitational is put on every year from the Bay Hill, Florida Country Club. It is always a fun event, especially when Palmer was there and would interact with the golfers. He did that each year until his passing in 2016.
Woods always had a good relationship with Palmer, loved playing in the tournament, and dominated the course. Woods won the event four years in a row from 2000-2003. During his victory in ‘03, he scored a -19 and beat the entire field by more than 11 strokes.
That said, 2009 was one of the roughest years for Woods. His marital issues, and affairs, became public and he was also recovering from ACL surgery earlier in the year. The man who had an impeccable reputation was suddenly sullied and beatable, and his PGA tour odds were now the same as any other player.
It was just his third tournament back from a surgery he had undergone nearly eight months prior. Woods wanted to be there for Palmer, knowing that if he were in the lineup, the fans would come, and Palmer’s tournament would benefit. He plodded along and entered the last round five strokes back of the leaders. He had work to do, and he knew it.
Woods would overcome that five-shot deficit on Sunday by sinking a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole to shoot 67, stunning Sean O’Hair, and claiming the victory. This was Woods’ 66th PGA Tour win and the sixth time he had won the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Woods would go on to win the tournament two more times, in 2012 & 2013.
4. AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (2000)
Maybe the most forgotten gem of Woods’ career is the 2000 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am was a tournament where Woods did not make many appearances, and the 2000 win was his lone victory at this venue.
This win is often forgotten as the final round was played on a Monday due to a rainout during the weekend. This event was also sparsely watched live, both in person and on television, because CBS tape-delayed the event on the west coast.
Trailing Matt Gogel by seven strokes with only nine holes to go, Woods’ chances looked bleak. With an eagle on the 15th, a birdie on the 16th, and another on the 18th, Woods clawed back into contention. His final round of 64 earned him the win by two strokes. This was only Woods’ 17th PGA Tour win, but his sixth-straight victory on the PGA Tour.
3. Ford Championship at Doral (2005)
Phil Mickelson is considered to be Woods’ biggest rival despite them being good friends. The two rarely squared off, but when they did, it was must-watch TV, and the 2005 Ford Championship at Doral had to be their best. The two were partners in the Ryder Cup the year prior and lost both matches together. Mickelson had been playing better as of late, winning twice earlier in the year, while Woods had won only once.
Forever known as the “Duel at Doral,” Woods trailed Mickelson heading into the final round. The back nine was a thrilling back and forth, with both players going shot for shot. Woods took over heading into the 18th, but Lefty holed a chip out on the final hole to force a playoff. Woods would prevail, winning the playoff to secure his 42nd PGA Tour win. For a non-major, this was as exciting as it gets.
2. WGC-NEC Invitational (2000)
Tiger in 2000 was just on a different level than everyone else. A week after winning the PGA Championship and securing his third-straight major, Woods went on to win his second-straight and third total World Golf Championship. Not only was he winning all of the tournaments, but he was also winning by record margins. He finished the 2000 WGC-NEC Invitational by an 11-stroke margin and set a tournament record with a score of -21.
In the second round, Woods tied Jose Maria Olazabal’s course record of 61. The notable moment of the tournament was on the 18th hole. The victory was inevitable, but darkness had crept in, and Woods had to famously finish the hole in the dark. Woods hit his approach shot as lights flickered in the background, and of course, his iron shot landed near the hole. In the dark, but under the spotlights, he notched a birdie to finish the round. It would be Woods’ 23rd PGA Tour win. 2000 was the year of Tiger, and this dominant showing was just one of many from that year.
1. Players Championship (2001)
The greatest non-major win in Woods’ career is the 2001 Players Championship. While the 2000 World Golf Championship saw Woods hold three of the major titles, the 2001 Players Championship came shortly after completing the “Tiger Slam.”
Holding all four major championships, Woods went into the 2001 Players at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, knowing that it was a course that gave him fits. Two weeks after winning the Masters, Woods would secure his 26th PGA Tour Win, but it would not come easy.
Woods was six strokes behind the lead as the tournament headed into the weekend. The third round had one of the most famous putts of Woods’ career. On the 17th green, he stood above a 60 foot, downhill, triple-breaking putt. NBC’s Gary Koch famously called Woods’ putt “better than most” as the ball curved and rolled down the hill and sank in the cup. No one could do what Woods did. Shooting a 66 in the third round, he climbed up the leaderboard but still trailed Jerry Kelly by two strokes heading into the final round.
He shot a 67 in the final round to win the tournament by a single stroke over Vijay Singh, making the previous days’ miracle putt the difference-maker. A six-stroke deficit may seem impossible for most golfers, but Tiger was just in a different zone during this time. No one could stop him, and his victory at the 2001 Players Championship is the greatest non-major win in his career.
The most famous golfer in the world is undeniably Tiger Woods. His play style and personality on the course were unlike anything seen before on the PGA Tour. For the entire decade of the 2000s, Woods was at the top of the golf odds every tournament he entered, and more often than not, he would win.
His popularity transcended golf and entered the mainstream. People who did not even like golf tuned in to watch Woods play because he was such a cultural phenomenon. Woods won 82 PGA Tour events, and although most will remember the 15 majors, it is essential to look back and appreciate the greatness of Tiger in those other 67 events.
Whether it be a come-from-behind victory or a dominating showcase, Tiger Woods showed why he is the greatest golfer of all time.