On a picture-perfect day at Pebble Beach, Tiger Woods finished with a 12-under-par total of 272 to win the 100th US Open by a record-setting 15 strokes over Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez, who both tied for second place at three over par.
It was the largest victory margin in a Major, surpassing the 13-stroke margin by Old Tom Morris at the 1862 Open Championship. It also broke the US Open record that had stood for 101 years, surpassing the 11-stroke victory by Willie Smith in 1899.
Woods also set the record for lowest score in relation to par (12 strokes), breaking the previous record of eight under par set by Ben Hogan in 1948 and equalled by Jack Nicklaus in 1980, Hale Irwin in 1990 and Lee Janzen in 1993.
Woods’ winning total of 272 also tied the all-time winning totals set by Nicklaus and Janzen.
Woods had now won two Majors by record margins – his 12-stroke victory at The Masters in 1997 and this win.When he reached 12 under par by making a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-five 14th hole, he became only the second player to reach 12 under in US Open history, tying Gil Morgan, who did it in 1992.
At 24, Woods had won three Majors – the PGA Championship in 1999 added to The Masters and this one. His ambition is to be remembered as the greatest player, and here he completed one of golf’s great performances. The US Open has been called golf’s most demanding test, and Woods passed it easily, like a class valedictorian.
The outcome was all but decided on Saturday morning when Woods took a record-breaking six-stroke lead after two rounds.
There was a time when people wondered if he had the game to win a US Open, whether he had enough accuracy off the tee, or enough control with his short irons, or enough patience. Those questions were answered.
On the final hole – Pebble Beach’s picturesque 543-yard par five – the focus was on whether Woods would break the scoring record of 272. After his tee shot and a lay-up, he hit his third onto the green, about 15 feet left of the hole, giving himself a chance to putt for birdie and a record 271.
As Woods walked to the green, he removed his cap to acknowledge the roaring gallery, and some fans dropped to their knees and bowed repeatedly. He missed the putt for birdie, but he made the next putt for par.
Starting the day at eight under, Woods parred his way through the front nine; then, at 10, he made a 12-foot putt for his first birdie of the day.
That one putt seemed to send a charge through his body, just as it sent a charge through the gallery.
Two holes later, Woods made an 18-foot putt for birdie to reach 10 under.
Then, at the par-four 13th, he hit another incredible shot, an iron approach that nearly went into the hole, passing by the left side of the cup and stopping less than two feet away. Woods tapped in for another birdie that moved him to 11 under.
He made another birdie at the par-five 14th after chipping to eight feet on his third shot.At 17, he saved par with a superb bunker shot that settled a foot from the cup – another display of his almost magical touch around the green.
Then came the finish, with Woods taking his well-deserved walk to glory down the last fairway.
272 – Tiger Woods (USA) 65 69 71 67
287 – Miguel Angel Jimenez (Esp) 66 74 76 71, Ernie Els (SA) 74 73 68 72 287
288 – John Huston (USA) 67 75 76 70
289 – Lee Westwood (Eng) 71 71 76 71, Padraig Harrington (Ire) 73 71 72 73
290 – Nick Faldo (Eng) 69 74 76 71
291 – Vijay Singh (Fiji) 70 73 80 68, Stewart Cink (US) 77 72 72 70, David Duval (USA) 75 71 74 71, Loren Roberts (USA) 68 78 73 72
– This article first appeared in the June issue of Compleat Golfer, now on sale