Tiger Woods is considered one of the greatest golfers of all-time, as his 15 major championships leaves him second only to the legendary Jack Nicholas in golf’s elite. On April 14, Tiger clinched his fifth green jacket and his first major win in 11 years – coined by many as the greatest sporting comeback of all time. However, it was Tiger’s mentality ingrained into him as a young boy that allowed the 42-year-old to pull off the seemingly impossible.
At the age of just 20, the American turned pro and entered his first major event – the 1997 Masters, which he won by 12 strokes in a record-breaking performance, overcoming the experienced Tom Kite.
However, the win was far from easy.
Tiger struggled on his first nine holes of the first round, turning at four-over par, and looked sure to crash out.
However, he revealed during his 2017 book: “Unprecedented: The Masters and Me” a lesson he learnt from legendary golfer Arnold Palmer, that kept his hopes up.
Tiger Woods won the Masters in April 2019
Tiger came back to win his first major title in 11 years
That was pure Arnold, he had no give-up in him – he believed it was possible to turn things around whatever the circumstances
He wrote: “Arnold Palmer had invited me to play (before the Masters) at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge, which he owned.
“I’d admired Arnold for years, especially his attacking, go-for-broke attitude and the way he managed to not only cope with all the attention his game and friendly nature brought him but to welcome it.
“I’d sought him out for advice on these matters and he was always willing to sit down and talk to me.”
Tiger went on to detail how he would bet against his good friend, who sadly passed away in 2016, while the pair practised together.
He added: “At Bay Hill, in what was called ‘the shootout’, Arnold, who was then 67, played with his buddies every day at noon.
Tiger gained his fifth green jacket
Tiger recalled playing Bay Hill course before his first Masters win
“This time, I was there playing with him in a group and it was exciting.
“We had a match for $100 (£78), and I closed him out on the seventeenth hole.
“But Arnold being Arnold, he wasn’t about to say we shouldn’t have another wager on the last hole, so we played the eighteenth for double or nothing.”
Despite the odds clearly being stacked against Palmer, Tiger said the veteran always backed himself to turn it around.
He continued: “I was miles ahead of him off the tee after hitting a three wood, but he hit driver – even though the second shot is one of the most dangerous in golf – and he finished in the back bunker.
Arnold Palmer gave Tiger guidance before the win
Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer became close friends
“I then hit eight-iron to the green and Arnold got up and down for par.
“I missed my birdie putt and so we halved the hole.
“That was pure Arnold, he had no give-up in him – he believed it was possible to turn things around whatever the circumstances.”
In a remarkable turnaround on the back nine of the 1997 Masters, Tiger pulled off a similar move.
He made four birdies and an eagle gave him a six-under-par score of 30 on the back nine, leaving him in the clubhouse on a respectable two-under-par after his first round.
Tiger went on to win at Augusta
This weekend the PGA Championship is at Bethpage Black Course
Then, in the second and third rounds, he scored the best rounds of each day (65-66) to open up a commanding nine-shot lead.
A final-round 69 gave Tiger a tournament record 270 (−18), bettering the previous record of 271 set by Jack Nicklaus in 1965.
The dramatic turnaround was far from his last though, as the golfing world learned last month when Tiger muscled through a tightly-packed Augusta leaderboard to win by one shot.
It was the fairytale return he had hoped for, after enduring a dark spell through injury since 2014.
Tiger underwent career-saving spine fusion surgery in 2017 and sealed an impressive comeback season last year with his first win for five years.
This weekend he will look to take that success one step further as he tees up for the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black Course of Long Island in the state of New York – where he is currently odds-on to win.
Victory this weekend could propel him back to the top of the world rankings for the first time since March 2013.
Tiger has form around Bethpage’s Black course too, having led after every round when he won the 2002 US Open there as well as finishing joint sixth when the course hosted the same tournament in 2009.
However, as always, it will not come easy.
With six Europeans in the top 16 in the world rankings and two-time winner Rory McIlroy among them, there is a strong continental contingent.
Rory McIlroy will be looking to upset Tiger
Britain’s Justin Rose will also be looking to cause an upset and regain his position as world number one.
Rose’s only major win remains the 2013 US Open – but he went close at last year’s Open, albeit without ever really threatening the lead, as Italy’s Francesco Molinari claimed his first major title.
Molinari followed that by finishing joint sixth at the US PGA and his good form in the majors continued at Augusta, where he went into the final round as the leader but dunked his ball on the 12th and 15th holes to drop away.
However, Tiger’s countrymen still pose a threat, including Brooks Koepka who will be looking to defend the title he won at Bellerive and claim a fourth major in just eight starts.
Justin Rose will be hoping to regain the number one spot
Dustin Johnson is also hungry for victory
With 16 top-ten finishes from 39 major appearances, it is hard to work out how world number one Dustin Johnson has not won more majors than the 2016 US Open.
Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth became the youngest US Open champion in 92 years when he clinched the 2015 US Open title in 2015.
Now 25, the three-time major winner is trying to complete the career grand slam for the third time by winning the US PGA.
However, it would appear he is out of form and has slipped to 39th in the world after a winless 2018 and no top-ten finishes in 2019.