During Sunday’s CBS telecast of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, a trivia question asked how many times Tiger had won the PGA Championship and the Bridgestone in the same year. The answer was listed as 3. That answer was WRONG.
Tiger Wins WGC Bridgestone Invitational: 8 times (’99,’00,’01,’05,’06,’07,’09,’13)
Tiger Wins PGA Championship: 4 times (’99,’00,’06,’07)
He won the first of his Wanamaker Trophies (PGA Championships) in 1999 at Medinah (Illinois); then, successfully defended his title in 2000 as the third leg of his “Tiger Slam” at Valhalla (Kentucky). In 2006, Tiger won again at Medinah; then, defended in 2007 at Southern Hills (Oklahoma).
Not 3, but all FOUR of Tiger’s PGA Championship wins coincides with a win at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio (where the NEC/ Bridgestone is played).
In 1999 and 2000, the title sponsor was NEC not Bridgestone, but you have to forget the technicalities involved with title sponsorship. Few of the WGC’s or PGA tournaments for that matter have retained the same title sponsors throughout their events’ lifetimes. In ’99 the NEC Invitational was played 2 weeks after the PGA: Tiger won both. In 2000 and ’06, Tiger won at Firestone the week FOLLOWING the PGA. In 2007, the Bridgestone was moved to the week before the PGA and Tiger still won ‘em both.
If the question was how many times has Tiger won the Bridgestone AFTER winning the PGA in the same year, then the answer is 3. If, the trivia question was meant to be a teaser leading into the PGA and hinting at a Tiger win as an indicator for Oak Hill, well he’s only won the PGA the week right after the Bridgestone once, in 2007.
Maybe the question was supposed to be how many times has Tiger won the Bridgestone but NOT the PGA because the answer there is 3. With the results of this year’s PGA pending, you have to look to the 7 times where he has played in both events.
Four times Tiger won both and 3 times he has won the Bridgestone but NOT the PGA (’01,’05, and ’09).
In 2001 at the Atlanta Athletic Club (winner: David Toms), Tiger was way off, finishing in 29th place 14 strokes back at 279 (-1). In 2005 at Baltusrol (New Jersey), he finished T4, two shots back of Mickelson who won at 4 under. In 2009 at Hazeltine (Minnesota), Tiger went into Sunday with a two shot lead and, for the first time in his career, lost a major with the 54 hole lead (to Y.E. Yang).
What does this all mean? Tiger has won the Bridgestone every time he has won the PGA; AND, three times they were in back-to-back weeks. BUT, only once has he won the PGA AFTER the Bridgestone. And, the last time he won at Firestone in 2009, he blew a 54 hole lead for the first time in his career and hasn’t won a major since. So? It’s no guarantee that Tiger will win this week at Oak Hill in Rochester, NY.
But if I was setting the odds in Vegas, I gotta give Tiger at least 3 to 1. But if I had to play the bank? I’d give you nothing at all. I simply wouldn’t take it because I think he wins. He looked like vintage Tiger this week. He won in a walk by 7 shots. He hit big misses but made huge putts to compensate, just like he used to. He built a huge lead and coasted on Sunday, just like he used to. In fact, I think he wins and at Oak Hill and then successfully defends the title next year at Valhalla.
I see a lot of parallels in Tiger’s PGA Championship victories. He won his 4 PGA’s as two separate back-to-back jobs: ’99 then ’00 and ’06 then ’07. He won 2 at Medinah, which hosted the 2012 Ryder Cup (US defeat). Like Medinah, Valhalla is a past Ryder Cup venue; 2008 and the last site where the U.S. was victorious. Tiger has already won a PGA at Valhalla. He wins a PGA and then defends it the next year? Sounds like Tiger. He wins a PGA at a course where he has A. already won and B. that has also hosted a Ryder Cup? That sounds like Tiger.
How ‘bout this for another parallel? Medinah was the host site for 2 of Tiger’s PGA Championships and also witnessed the epic US Ryder Cup collapse this last fall. The last time the U.S. had a lead going into Sunday at the Ryder Cup and lost was in 1995. The venue? Oak Hill in Rochester, NY the site of this year’s PGA championship.
In 1995, the US held a 2 point Saturday lead but lost the Sunday singles match points 7 ½ to 4 ½. Tiger did not play on that US Ryder Cup team. He did not make his Ryder Cup debut until the next one in ‘97 at Valderrama in Spain. You know who was on that 1995 losing US side at Oak Hill? Rookie, Phil Mickelson. Phil did not contribute to that Sunday collapse as he won his singles match 2 & 1 against Per-Ulrik Johansson. In fact, Phil was 3-0 for the week.
Sitting in the pressroom at Muirfield before the 2013 Open began, Phil acknowledged it wasn’t a good omen, statistically speaking, for him winning the week before at the Scottish Open. Phil pointed out with a Cheshire cat grin that he was, however, the last guy to win a major off a win the week before. (He won the 2006 Masters the week after winning the BellSouth Classic.)
Tiger and Phil battle it out on Sunday with the New York crowd boisterously backing their chosen son, Phil? In a year where Tiger has won 5 times in blockbuster events; where Phil played the “round of his life” to grab the Claret Jug and the third leg of his open-ended career Grand Slam; where they both came dramatically close to that magical 59 (Phil lipped out a putt on the 72nd hole of the Phoenix Waste Management and shot 60)? Sounds like an myth in the making.