Buenos Aires, Argentina
He came here to end a ’round-the-world odyssey.
It began in Manassas, Va., at the Presidents Cup, moved to Orlando, Fla., continued on to Atlanta, and from there included stops in Spain, London, Thailand, Hawaii, California and finally here in the Southern Hemisphere.
Eight tournaments in a row and a one-day exhibition in England. Think of the air miles alone.
But Tiger Woods, a nine-time PGA Tour winner in 2000, knows history views a golfer by how he handles himself around the world.
So the 24-team $3 million EMC2 World Cup at the 6,896-yard, par 72 Buenos Aires Country Club Dec. 7-10, where Woods partnered and won with fellow American David Duval, was just another part of his maturation as a golfer.
Duval and Woods, who took the tournament lead in the third round and survived two final-round bogeys and shot rounds of 61-65-60-68–254, 34 under par, to win by three strokes over Argentineans Eduardo Romero and Angel Cabrera. The winners split $1 million.
For the first time since this event began in 1953, teams played two days each of four-ball and foursomes competition.
For Woods, 2000 ended like it began – with a victory.
“This has been a fantastic week,” said Woods. “We were able to make everything very exciting.”
Exciting, including for Duval.
“It was more fun than I imagined playing with Tiger in Argentina,” said Duval.
Despite the jet lag, despite the strange food, and despite the strenuous toll, Woods feels he’s a better player for it.
“To be the world’s best, you have to play around the world,” said Woods, 24, who won more than $9.1 million on the PGA Tour in 2000. “I enjoy playing around the world. There are a lot of different things you need to learn. That’s how you become the world’s best. But I’ll be glad to get some time off.”
That attitude is appreciated by former British Open and PGA Championship winner Nick Price.
Too often, said Price, players don’t learn to adapt to different conditions and courses by playing around the world, thereby stifling their growth. But not Woods, said Price.
“I always look at the big picture,” said Price prior to the World Golf Championships-American Express Championship. “I don’t like it that a lot of the guys are not willing to travel to certain parts of the world. If Jack (Nicklaus), Gary (Player) and Arnold (Palmer) hadn’t traveled like they did in their early years, I don’t think I’d be in the position I am today. They made such an impact on me. They helped create my interest. Players underestimate their influence sometimes. It’s a pity.”
Woods deserves all the credit in the world for his season and desire to play around the world, said Duval.
“If I had won 10 tournaments and three majors,” said Duval, “they would be talking about me, they wouldn’t be talking about Tiger. But I didn’t do that. You can’t begrudge a guy for success. I’m not that type of person.”
After two hectic months, Woods welcomes a month away from competitive golf.
“It has taken its toll a little bit,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it, when you play that much golf around the world, it has been a very long stretch.”
Despite it, Woods already is thinking about next year and the years after. Since turning pro in 1996, Woods has won 24 times on the PGA Tour – 17 the last two years. He holds the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship titles.
“I have never seen a young player go this far this fast,” said Argentine legend Roberto De Vicenzo, who has spent the last 60 years playing with, and watching, the game’s greatest players. “Any pro in the world, when they are young, wants to win one (major). If you are 24 and won three in one year, you must be satisfied.”
Not so, said Woods.
“My plans for next year are the same as they were this year,” said Woods. “The more times you are in position to win, the better your chances are at winning. Hopefully next year I can duplicate, if not better, what I was able to do this year by just putting myself there more often. I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of trying to beat the best players in the world. If you can’t get up for that, it’s hard to get up for pretty much anything.”