He stood on the tee box of the 18th hole at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic on a Sunday not three months ago. Suddenly history was offering itself to him. If he could eagle this hole, he would become the third PGA golfer ever to shoot a 59, the first to do it in the crucible of a final round. The gallery fell silent.
There was a flash of graphite and cast titanium, a 320-yard drive singing down the fairway. A flash of stainless steel, another approach shot falling like a pearl on crushed velvet, six feet from the hole. He studied the putt. If he nailed it, he would most likely win the tournament after starting the day seven strokes back, continuing the hottest tear the Tour had seen in years—at week's end he had won four of the eight Tour events he had entered in 1999, including the last two, and 11 of his last 34 starts—and everyone would acknowledge it: He's the best golfer in the world, the likeliest to dominate the next decade. If he nailed it, his name and his face and his story would leave the realm of the country club and become the property of cabdrivers and diner waitresses and toll-booth cashiers. His insides shook, yet that seemed to be just fine. He stepped over the ball and pulled back his putter, and before the ball was even in the hole he pumped his fist once, twice, and then he was slapping five with his caddie, but that wasn't enough, so he just kept flinging that fist into the sky, sending tingles through the people who cared about him and had waited so long to see something like this pour out of him—and then the emotions zigzagged, and he couldn't find them.
He lay awake in bed all that night, unable to sleep, trying to feel what he felt. Finally he got there. "Humbled," he said. "I just felt humbled."