Tiger Woods once made an “inconceivable” mistake that cost him five major championships, according to fellow golf legend Gary Player.
Woods sustained an incredible period of dominance like no other in golf after launching into global superstardom with his stunning 12-shot victory at the 1997 Masters. A devastating, deadly approach to golf transformed and popularized the sport, with his imperious prime form setting an unattainable standard for almost all of his rival pros.
And at the height of Woods’ supremacy, he created history at Pebble Beach by romping to the US Open title in 2000 by a miraculous 15 shots, a record margin for a major victory that still stands today. That was the American’s third major crown and placed him firmly on the path chasing the legendary Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18.
But despite winning five majors in the space of the next two years, South African great Player is convinced that Woods would have gone on to usurp Nicklaus’s major tally, had he not made changes to his irrepressible game.
“Tiger Woods was the most talented golfer the planet has ever seen but he made a few bad decisions, which we all do,” Player, a nine-time major champion, told the Daily Mail.
“Having lessons when he won the US Open by 15 shots was inconceivable — if he never went for a lesson he would have won 20 majors minimum and he would have beat Nicklaus’s record.
“Then we come to Jack Nicklaus, the most majors in the world. I suppose my point is when you talk about the best players — and might I just say I have the best record for worldwide wins (159) — there are many ways you can judge golfers.”
Woods went on to win the The Open at St Andrews by eight shots at the Old Course with the same swing just weeks after blowing away the field at Pebble Beach in the summer of 2020.
But perfectionist Woods constantly looked to evolve his game and most notably reconstructed his golf swing entirely after his 2002 US Open victory, the eighth major of his career.
Woods often tweaked his game in pursuit of perfection
Having split with Butch Harmon, Woods linked up with revered instructor Hank Haney and endured an unexpected barren spell of no majors in 2003 or 2004 while adjusting to swing changes. He then added another six majors as his dominance resumed at the 2005 Masters, before injury troubles hit in 2008.
And Woods famously completed the most extraordinary of sporting comebacks to claim his 15th major and fifth Green Jacket at the Masters in 2019.
However, what now seems most inconceivable is a 16th major title that would edge an injury-ravaged Woods, 47, one closer to the great Nicklaus and write yet another chapter in his astonishing career.