For Tiger, 2005 was great -- and 2006 might be better
Posted: Monday November 7, 2005 11:43AM; Updated: Monday November 7, 2005 5:31PM
Hank Haney helped Tiger regain his dominance on Tour.
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
All you need to know about golf in the just-completed 2005 Tour season is that we no longer have to ask Tiger Woods this question: Are you all the way back?
Yes, he's all the way back. Woods is so-ooo back that 2005 should go down as his second-best year. "Probably, yeah" Woods said Sunday after taking second place behind Bart Bryant at the Tour Championship.
There's no argument on what year is No. 1. That would be 2000, when Tiger won nine times, including the last three majors. He capped off the Tiger Slam (or Big Lebowsky, as I like to call it) by adding the Masters the following year, giving him all four major titles at the same time.
In 1999, Tiger won eight times but only one major, the PGA Championship. This year, he had six victories, two of them major championships (Masters, British Open), and numerous near-misses. He also had four seconds, two thirds and 13 top-10 finishes in 21 appearances.
Two majors beats one major, right? "If you look at it that way, yeah, '99 is probably pretty close," Tiger said. "It's a toss-up."
The questions Woods is going to get next year will be stuff like this: How much better can you get? How much longer can you play this well?
The answers -- unfortunately for other Tour players are a) a lot better and b) a lot longer. Tiger's 2005 was doubly impressive because he pulled it off with a different golf swing, a different coach (Hank Haney) and a different philosophy.
"It was a great season," Woods said. "To make all the changes that we've made and to be in contention in major championships again, that's ultimately where I want to be. I want to be there on the back nine Sunday in every major with a chance to win and I was.
"Unfortunately I had a couple MCs (missed cuts) this year, which is not normal. To be in contention at all the majors, win two World Golf Championship events and be in contention at other events, that's awfully exciting."
It's going to be another one of those years when Woods hauls home almost all of the awards. He won the money title for the sixth time ($10.6 million), the first time since 2002. He won the Vardon Trophy for best scoring average for the sixth time in the last seven years. He's a shoo-in to win Player of the Year in balloting by Tour players. Woods isn't into awards, he's into victories but with the victories come the awards, so go ahead and pile them on.
"The Player of the Year means a lot because it's from your peers," Woods said. "That is like the ultimate compliment. The money list doesn't really interest me that much only because if you play more, you have a better chance of making more money and I don't play that many events. I'm concentrating on the bigger events. If I can win more events than anyone in a year and more majors than anyone in a year, it's going to be a great year."
Tiger's year was probably even better than you think. He was scary close to another Grand Slam, a calendar-year slam. Four shots away, in fact. He finished two shots back at the U.S. Open and two back at the PGA. So let's play What if ...?