The prelude to this iconic Tiger Woods shot was almost as unlikely as shot itself
You’ve likely seen it on YouTube, mixed in among the endless other iconic Tiger Woods highlights. It’s the year 2000 in Canada, it’s raining and Woods is in a fairway bunker. He’s also in a heated battle with a New Zealander named Grant Waite.
Woods’ caddie at the time was Steve Williams, another New Zealander, who knew best to stay out of Woods’ way when he was chasing down a championship. What happens next, we’ve already agreed, is something you’ve probably seen before. What you might not know is what took place the night before.
For that we can thank Williams, who has proven himself adept at passing down details of Woods’ legend through the years. Williams shared some of that precious color with Ryan Fox, another New Zealander and one of the best players in the world right now, who then shared it on The Slam podcast, which you can listen to below.
Fox has had Williams on the bag at various points in his career, as recently as this year’s PGA Championship, in Tulsa, Okla. Whenever that’s the case, Fox tends to soak up some of the golfing brilliance that Williams witnessed while looping for Woods.
“The [story] that got me — there’s that iconic shot that Tiger had on Glen Abbey, was it the 18th fairway bunker, to beat another Kiwi, Grant Waite,” Fox began. “Some stupid distance with a 6-iron out of a fairway bunker over water. Makes birdie, wins by a shot. Steve said to me, ‘What no one realizes is that — Tiger shot 64 that day to win.’ They were driving down some highway in Canada the Saturday night. Someone is driving them. All of a sudden they’re on the highway and Tiger just goes, ‘Stop.’
“Driver pulled over, Tiger gets out of the car, walks to the trunk of the car and grabs out a club. Starts swinging it on the side of the road.’ Steve’s sitting in the car — ‘I don’t know, it’s Tiger, what he’s doing’ — and he jumps back in the car after about five minutes. He goes, ‘Steve I’ve got it. We’re good tomorrow.’”
“Steve didn’t know what the problem was or whatever. Tiger found it on the side of I-95 in Canada or whatever it was. There’s just lots of cool stuff like that that shows how good Tiger really was.”
As with all tales that get passed down, they sometimes need a bit of a fact-check. This one mostly checks out since Williams actually told the story on the HBO documentary about Woods two years ago. Two small inaccuracies: Woods was certainly not on I-95 (not in Canada!), and he didn’t shoot 64. It was a 65, punctuated by this shot:
Fox quickly delved into another story from Adam Scott. Fox played with Scott during the 2015 Open Championship, Fox’s first appearance in the major championship. He was “nervy as hell,” he said, playing alongside Scott, then ranked No. 11 in the world. Fox was ranked 211th. “Two holes in [Scott] looks at me and goes, ‘Don’t worry. I know exactly how you feel. I did this in 2000 … I played a practice round with Tiger.’
“He goes, ‘I was so nervous. I was hitting it everywhere, and he just didn’t miss a shot.’”
Fox asked the question all pros tend to ask at this point: Just how good was Woods back then?
“He goes, ‘Look, no one has had as much control over the ball as what he had. It was just scary.’ And when you get someone who has won a major, been the No. 1 player in the world say that, you kind of know it was pretty good, right?”
Right. Extremely right. You can listen to the rest of Fox on The Slam podcast here.