Decisions that ‘ruined’ Tiger Woods’ career and stopped him becoming ‘greatest ever athlete’

Tiger Woods has 15 major titles to his name, however fellow great Gary Player believes he could have won as many as 22 if it was not for one key career mistake

Tiger Woods has been told he ruined his career
Tiger Woods has been told he ruined his career (Image: Getty Images)
ByJoshua LeesSenior Golf Writer
Tiger Woods has been told taking two lessons after his U.S. Open victory in 2000 ‘ruined’ his career by fellow great and nine-time major champion Gary Player.

Woods has announced himself as arguably golf’s greatest player during his career, winning a 82 PGA Tour titles and 15 major championships during his time as a pro. Arguably his most impressive major triumph came in 2000, when Woods won his first U.S. Open title by a remarkable 15 strokes.

According to Player, Woods then went on to have two lessons on the back of victory at Pebble Beach, a decision he believes cost the 48-year-old greatly across the rest of his career.

Player told KW Golf: “The US Open at Pebble Beach, he won by 15 shots. You know what that’s like? It’s like running the 100 meters in seven seconds. The next week, he’s having a lesson from a man who, I don’t think, if he played in the Masters, could break 80.

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“And then he goes to another guy who couldn’t probably break 85 in the Masters with the pressure, or the British Open or the PGA on the final day. And he’s having lessons from them.” As a result, the South African believes that if Woods would not have turned to those two coaches, he would have broken Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles, and become the greatest ever athlete of all time.

“Why did Tiger do that? He was so good, but I understand he wanted to get better,” Player went on. “If he had just gone along and never changed, he would have won at least 22 [majors]. He would’ve gone down as the greatest athlete the world has ever seen.”

Woods’ first 14 major championship victories came in the space of 11 years between 1997 and 2008. The golfing great was then forced to wait 11 years for win No. 15, which came in dramatic fashion at Augusta National in 2019 where he won a fifth Masters title around the iconic Georgia course.

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Gary Player had his say on Tiger Woods ( Image: Photo by Oisin Keniry/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)
The 48-year-old’s career has been a part-time one in recent years, with Woods nurturing a whole host of fitness issues. The majority stem from a car accident in Los Angeles in February 2021, which saw the PGA Tour star sufferer career-threatening injuries to his right leg.

In three seasons Woods has played in just eight events, completing all 72 holes on four occasions. He made just his second start of 2024 at the Masters last month, and made more Augusta National history after making a 24th consecutive cut at the opening major of the year, more than any other player.

A rough weekend followed though, as he carded his worst ever major championship round 24 hours after booking his place for the weekend. Despite a tough finish, the 2019 champion found the positives from a hard-fought performance.

“It was a good week. It was a good week all around. I think that coming in here, not having played a full tournament in a very long time, it was a good fight on Thursday and Friday. Unfortunately yesterday it didn’t quite turn out the way I wanted it to.”

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