Five of Tiger Woods’ Greatest Escapes

Being the top-ranked golfer in the world for 683 weeks provides countless highlights featuring incredible shots.

Tiger Woods is one of the greatest escape artists in the history of the game. When faced with troubling situations on the course, the “Big Cat” often finds a way out.

We’ll showcase five of Woods’ best shots in dire situations during his PGA Tour career, which features 82 wins (tied for the most all-time), including 15 majors (second-most ever).

Woods’ top five special escapes

Regardless of the odds stacked against him, Woods found a way to knock it close in the examples below.

1998 BellSouth Classic

It had been nearly a year since Woods had won a tournament when he participated in the 1998 BellSouth Classic at TPC Sugar Loaf.

As wild as it sounds, the media had produced a narrative that Woods was “in a slump.”

During the event, Woods hit an errant shot, nearly avoiding the hazard on the par-3 11th, and found himself in big trouble.

With his ball covered in mud, on top of a rock and in the thick stuff, Woods managed to provide one of his best-ever up and downs.

He chipped the ball cleanly down onto the green and left himself a short uphill putt for par. 

Woods drained it, and it was vital he did so because he ultimately won the event by one stroke over Jay Don Blake and silenced his doubters for his eighth victory on tour.

2019 WGC-Dell Technologies MatchPlay

At the 2019 WGC Match Play event hosted by Austin Country Club, Woods was facing off against Brandt Snedeker when he found himself in a load of trouble after landing his ball inside a bush.

While most pros would’ve taken a drop, Woods pulled off the improbable. He got on both knees, reached into the bush, and hit his shot with an iron upside down and the toe pointing towards the ground.

The ball was struck clean and rolled onto the green right next to the pin. Nick Faldo was in awe and can be heard praising the escape in the clip below.

A month later, he won the 2019 Masters, arguably the greatest comeback in the sport.

2015 Quicken Loans National

With the ball below his feet in the rough and sitting on an uphill lie, Woods decided to pull a five wood for a 220-yard approach shot despite it being risky.

He faced tree trouble on his right and made excellent contact, landing the ball on the green. 

It rolled past the cup onto the fringe, 18 feet away, giving him a chance to two-putt and escape with a bogey.

Woods finished in a tie for 18th at the event at 8-under for the tournament.

2002 PGA Championship

Tiger Woods blasted an unbelievable 3-iron from a fairway bunker on the 18th green at the 2002 PGA Championship to finish his second round with a birdie.

Despite the high degree of difficulty, Woods struck it nicely and went over the trees. He sank the lengthy putt for a circle on his scorecard, which can be seen in the link below.

The 27-year-old finished solo second at the event at 9-under par, one stroke shy of champion Rich Beem.

1997 GTE Byron Nelson Classic

A 21-year-old Woods faced a challenging situation at the 1997 Byron Nelson Classic. 

A water drain was right in front of his ball, and the risk of injury was involved if he made contact with it.

Woods broke down his options with his former caddie Mike “Fluff” Cowan (currently Jim Furyk’s caddie). 

After making a decision, he hit a spectacular shot onto the green, much closer than he had anticipated. 

Woods went on to capture the title, making it his fifth career PGA Tour title.

Bonus: WGC Mexico 2019

We had to save the best for last. In 2019 at Club de Golf Chapultepec, Tiger Woods landed his drive in a fairway bunker on the right side of the hole.

With a tree in front of him, he pulled off a miraculous shot featuring a helicopter finish with his nine iron.

The 132-yard bunker shot faded around the tree, and once it hit the green, it spun immediately toward the hole leaving him 11 feet. He went on to two-putt for par.

Woods finished the event in a tie for 10th at 8-under.

Compilation of Woods’ best escapes on the PGA Tour

The PGA Tour put together the following highlight video with some of Woods’ best shots when facing hazards, trees and difficult lies.

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Lawrence Smelser has been part of the Golfible writing staff since 2019 and is a freelance golf journalist. Smelser has covered the PGA Tour including the U.S. Masters with He holds a journalism Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M and a Master’s journalism degree from the University of North Texas. Learn more about our team at Golfible on our About Us page.

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