For over 20 years, Tiger Woods has been the biggest name in golf. Whether he’s struggling to make it to a major or winning the Masters, he’s one of the two greatest players of all time. Although he’s put up incredible numbers as an individual on the Tour, one of Woods’s proudest accomplishments has little to do with his own performance.
Woods has always been secretive about his home and possessions, rarely opening up to journalists. Recently, however, he revealed an interesting story about one of the trophies in his home office.
Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar’s history
On Woods’s journey to the top of the PGA leaderboard, he won plenty of tournaments. He often competed against Matt Kuchar, who Woods defeated in the 1997 Amateur Championship as their careers were just beginning. But one of the mementos in Woods’s trophy room is a golf ball once hit by Kuchar. And no, it’s not a memento of the 1997 Amateur Championship — it’s something much more meaningful to Woods.
It would be fair to say there was a lot of pressure on Woods throughout his career, especially after he predicted it would follow a similar trajectory to Michael Jordan. But expectations on an individual to score points for themselves can never measure up to carrying the hopes of one’s country on their back.
The rumor has floated around the golf world for a while that Woods will step up to be captain at the next Ryder Cup, according to a Golf.com article. However, that wouldn’t be his first time as captain of a national team.
Tiger Woods, American team captain
In 2019, Woods took the position of Presidents Cup captain, the only time up to this point he’s led a squad at an international event. In addition to Woods as captain, the American team featured Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler, and Patrick Reed.
Some of the best players of the day were on the American team, but it almost wasn’t enough. Going into the final day of play, the American team was down 10-8. However, the U.S. Team rallied to an incredible extent, losing only two of the 12 matches on the day. They tied four others and won six outright.
With a final score of 16-14, America clinched the 2019 Presidents Club under the leadership of Woods. And the critical putt that put the U.S. Team over the top? 17th Hole, Matt Kuchar. With the win locked up, America went on to the 18th hole to finish out the tournament as champions.
How caddy John Wood memorialized the win
In a Golf Digest video, Woods explained further why the putt (and the win) meant so much to him, and why he was so thankful for Kuchar’s caddie saving the ball. “John Wood was so great,” Tiger said, “that he kept the ball–he switched it out for him and they played 18, and he gave me the ball around 18. Which is really cool. This is the winning ball to clinch the Cup on the 17th hole.”
Aside from a small number of international tournaments, golf isn’t really a team sport. Although it was slated to return to the Olympics this year, we’ll have to wait to see America compete on the international stage for gold medals. But tournaments like the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup bring Americans together to cheer for a team in an individual sport, and not just the players themselves.