10 otherworldly stats that put the Tiger Slam in its historic context
Even 20 years after its torrid start, people are still talking about the Tiger Slam.
Tiger Woods’ run through golf’s four biggest events, a stretch that began with the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, was widely considered one of the greatest achievements in the sport – and it hasn’t been matched since. If anything, the element of time has offered a greater appreciation for the unprecedented heights achieved during Woods’ historic 10-month run.
But sometimes even the raw numbers aren’t quite enough to grasp the magnitude of the achievement. From scoring streaks to distance records and everything in between, here’s a look at 10 of the most remarkable stats behind Woods’ earth-shattering performance that we won’t soon forget:
1. Scoring dominance: Woods was a whopping 65 under par while winning four straight majors: the U.S. Open, The Open and PGA Championship in 2000, plus the Masters in 2001. For some perspective, that was 45 strokes better than any other player across that span. Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els both shot 20 under, and they were the only players that finished the four events with a lower cumulative total than the 19 under Woods shot at St. Andrews en route to his eight-shot win.
2. Leaving the field behind: Even Secretariat would have blushed at some of these numbers. The swath between Woods and his closest competitor was already wide, but it turns into a bona fide gulf when you look at how he performed against the field average at all four events. By that metric he was a whopping 89 shots better, including at Pebble Beach when he beat the field average by 29.44 shots. Even at Augusta National in the spring of 2001, where conditions can often contribute to a bunched leaderboard, he was 17.94 shots better than the average. But that was the only major during the Tiger Slam when the field average stayed within 20 shots of Woods – five shots per round.
3. Record consistency: Woods didn’t just shoot one low round and hang on for the rest of the tournament. He was consistently among the top scorers for nearly every individual round, carding 13 straight rounds under par from the final round at Pebble Beach through the final round at Augusta National the following spring. That remains the longest such streak in major history. That said, dating back to 1990, two notable players have come close: Both Mickelson and Rory McIlroy had runs of 12 straight subpar scores from 2014-15, but neither could equal the run that Woods put together in 2000-01.
4. Unrivaled combination: Woods was long off the tee (more on that in a minute), but he was also accurate into the green. In each of the four majors he won, he led or co-led the field for every round in both driving distance and greens-in-regulation (GIR) percentage. In the 75 majors played since, that same double-dip has been accomplished by only one other player: Woods himself did it again en route to a runner-up finish at the 2005 U.S. Open, while Dustin Johnson pulled it off at the U.S. Open in both 2010 and 2016.
5. Birdie barrage: It should come as no surprise that Woods lapped the field in terms of circles on the scorecard, but the margin is still astounding. He rolled in 91 birdies across the four events, averaging nearly six per round (next best was Bob May with 69). While the majors are typically the toughest tests each year, Woods’ birdie average was almost one birdie per round better than his overall average for the 2000 season. That year, he averaged 4.92 birdies per round – a mark that was still good enough to set a PGA Tour record. But in the majors, he was somehow even better.
6. Bogey avoidance: Woods wasn’t just gifted at racking up the birdies, he also limited (or eliminated) the mistakes. During the 16 rounds that constituted the Tiger Slam, he made a total of 23 bogeys. Among the players who made the cut in all four events, the next best bogey total was Justin Leonard at 41. Even Mickelson (43) and Els (44) were giving up an extra bogey per round to Woods for the entire run.
7. Towering tee shots: Woods didn’t just lead the field in driving distance every chance he got, he blew the competition away. He averaged 307.4 yards per drive across the four events, which was 29 yards farther than the cumulative field average. The biggest disparity came at the Old Course, where his drives averaged 319.8 yards – 34 yards better than the field average. Of the players who made every cut, his closest competition was Els. But even the Big Easy was lagging 18 yards behind him off the tee.
8. Avoiding trouble: Woods did the most damage at two of the most iconic venues, winning by a combined 23 shots in his romps at Pebble Beach and St. Andrews. But he did so by keeping an improbably clean sheet across two key aspects. He tamed the notoriously fickle poa annua greens at Pebble, going the entire week without a single three-putt. Then at St. Andrews, he navigated all 72 holes without hitting a single shot into any of the 112 bunkers that dot and line the oldest course in the world.
9. More than the majors: Woods’ run of four straight gets remembered for what he did on the biggest stages, but it’s worth recalling that he was simply stellar for an entire calendar year. During the Tiger Slam, he teed it up in 18 tournaments, winning eight times including four majors and the 2001 Players. During that stretch, his worst finish was a tie for 23rd at the Western Open, his lone start in between Pebble Beach and St. Andrews.
10. Record-setting scoring: The record books have since passed him by in this department, but the Tiger Slam gave Woods the scoring record in all four majors at the time. He already had the Masters record from his 1997 triumph, but he added to his record haul by shooting 12 under at the U.S. Open, 19 under at The Open and 18 under at the PGA Championship (alongside May). He still shares the Masters scoring record with Jordan Spieth’s 2015 total, while the others were surpassed by Brooks Koepka (2017 U.S. Open), Henrik Stenson (2016 Open) and Jason Day (2015 PGA).
Stats and research courtesy the Golf Channel Editorial Research Unit