Tiger Woods: It was demanding

Updated: Oct 30, 2019, 08:02 IST | V Krishnaswamy | Chiba

Champ Tiger Woods on what it took to clinch Zozo title and equal American great Sam Snead's all-time record of 82 US PGA Tour wins set 54 years ago'

US golf great Tiger Woods celebrates winning the Zozo Championship in Chiba, Japan. Pic/Getty Images
US golf great Tiger Woods celebrates winning the Zozo Championship in Chiba, Japan. Pic/Getty Images

Chiba (Japan): Tiger Woods's 50th PGA Tour win at the Buick Open in 2006 was sandwiched between his 11th and 12th majors, the 2006 Open in Hoylake and the 2006 PGA at Harding Park. By the end of that year he had 54 PGA Tour wins.

By the end of 2009, he had added two more majors and 21 more PGA Tour wins to reach 71. Getting to Sam Snead's 82 PGA wins and Jack Nicklaus' 18 majors seemed only a matter of time. Then it all came to a grinding halt.

He started the chase again in 2012 and the run till the end of 2013 brought in eight more PGA wins, but no majors, and the number reached 79 – a measly three short of a mountain called Snead. Then it stopped yet again, but now for almost five years.

It was in September, 2018, that No. 80 came at the Tour Championship. Followed by No. 81 at the Augusta, his favourite major. And finally with No. 82 at Zozo Championship in far-off Japan, he joined Snead.

Japanese fans in dilemma

Japan, hosting its first-ever PGA Tour event, was in some ways an apt venue for the monumental achievement, for Woods, who is revered far and wide.
This week, he had the Japanese fans in a dilemma, whether to cheer for the home boy, Hideki Matsuyama, or the God of golf, Tiger Woods. Maybe, even Matsuyama was happy to see Woods reach 82.

On Monday in Chiba, soon after he had joined Snead at Mt 82, Woods was asked what was the point when Snead's record started looking like a possibility. It seems that '82' had entered his mind long before 2009.

sam SneadSam Snead

He said, "Well, I think probably when I got north of 50, but then unfortunately I went through some rough patches with my back and didn't play for a number of years, so that record seemed like it was out of reach. Having had my fourth back procedure and being able to come back and play at a decently high level again, it put the number back in the conversation again. Lo and behold, here we are tied."

'It's about being consistent'

The enormity of 82 was not lost on Tiger, as he said, "Well, it's a big number. It's about consistency and doing it for a long period of time. Sam did it into his 50s and I'm in my early to mid 40s. So it's about being consistent and doing it for a very long period of time. I've been very fortunate to have had the career I've had so far."

Just for the record, Woods has 109 titles worldwide, including wins in Asia, Europe and Japan, too, which are not part of the PGA Tour. Mental strength is a hallmark of Woods. So, where does he rank this win as he won the 2008 US Open virtually hobbling on one leg? Woods replied, "This [Zozo] was certainly demanding. Being in the lead for the better part of five days, it puts a stress on the mind and not easy to do. I've been in the position a few times in my career. I think the last time I was in this position was the Tour Championship last year and it's stressful. It's very hard."

Can he surpass Snead?

Next up for Woods is his own tournament, the Hero World Challenge. Woods has a way of writing his own script. Don't be surprised, if he wins the Hero World Challenge, an event he has won five times before, to sneak past Snead in December.

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