Sunday, August 20, 2006

Tiger Woods: 1 To 12, By The Numbers

On Sunday at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago, Tiger Woods captured his third PGA Championship. The triumph was Tiger’s second consecutive major title and his twelfth overall. To put the accomplishment into perspective, here is a by-the-numbers guide.

1 Players who have won two PGA Championships on the same course, now that Tiger has done so at Medinah. Since he wins consistently in the Chicago area, the Bears want to know if he can play quarterback.

2 U.S. Open championships for Woods. This is the only major he hasn’t won three times, so clearly he needs to take the tournament more seriously.

3 Bogeys made by Tiger during the entire PGA Championship. For him, PGA stood for “Perfect Golf, Almost.” Or “Phil, Go Away.”

4 Masters titles won by Woods. He has been so Green-friendly, Al Gore wants him to help with his next documentary.

5 Episode number in the Star Wars series of The Empire Strikes Back. Woods provided Luke Donald, his final round playing partner, with a reminder of the film. Tiger’s fourth round dominance proclaimed, “Luke, I am your daddy!”

6 Additional major championships Tiger needs to tie Jack Nicklaus for the most as a professional. Recent history shows that the Golden Bear will be surpassed. George “Papa Bear” Halas was passed by Don Shula, Bear Bryant was overtaken by Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden, and Walter Payton was eclipsed by Emmitt Smith. These developments prove the old adage, “Records are made to be broken – if they’re held by Bears.”

7 Titles, out of 11 major tournaments, won by Woods starting with the 1999 PGA. The 7-11 combo was appropriate, as his scores caused other players to take a Big Gulp.

8 Birdies for Tiger during Saturday’s third round. He was below par so often, some locals thought he played for the Black Hawks.

9 PGA Tour victories for Woods in a sterling 2000. Unlike computers, his fellow golfers really were victims of a Y2K bug.

10 Consecutive majors without a victory for Tiger before he won the 2005 Masters. He married Elin Nordegren during that stretch, so even during a slump he fared better than mere mortals.

11 Hits for the Cincinnati Reds in Sunday’s 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. “Red on Sunday” has long been a winning phrase for Tiger.

12 Strokes by which Woods won his first major, the 1997 Masters. He ended the suspense so early, he received the green jacket after the ninth hole.

Next April, Tiger returns to Augusta National Golf Club in search of his 13th major. Club members forbid the use of the term “rough” by announcers. However, they should relent in the case of Woods. He’s definitely been rough on the other golfers.