McDowell On Why Tiger Woods Had 'An Unprecedented Equipment Advantage'

US Open Champion Graeme McDowell joins the equipment debate and how he believes Tiger Woods' ball gave him an advantage during the famous 2000 season

Side by side image of Graeme McDowell and Tiger Woods
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The equipment debate within golf is one that long continues, and long continues to divide opinion. Last week, Tiger Woods joined the broadcast at the Genesis Invitational and took part in a conversation surrounding the equipment and distance debate. Woods said that he felt it would be “advantageous to the game of golf” if driver faces were “tuned down” and the golf ball added more spin.

Woods, who has won fifteen Major championships, was met with agreement from many, particularly those who are keen to maintain the integrity of golf courses which simply weren’t designed for the ‘modern’ game. Graeme McDowell, a former US Open Champion, took to Twitter and commented that Tiger had an advantage over the field during one of his most dominant periods. The Northern Irishman said, “Tiger is the greatest of all time for sure, but in the summer of 2000 he had an unprecedented equipment advantage over the field. Nike had developed the Tour Accuracy, one of the first solid core golf balls, pre cursor to the Pro V1. Early adoption and huge leaps.”

Whilst the Nike Tour Accuracy was one of the first solid core golf balls, it wasn’t the first to make an appearance on tour. Mark O’Meara won the 1998 Masters and 1998 Open Championship whilst Paul Lawrie won the 1999 Open Championship using the Top Flite Strata, which was also a solid core golf ball. Titleist introduced its game-changing Pro V1 golf ball to tour players in October 2000 and almost all players have used a multilayer, urethane cover, with injected synthetic material since.

Tiger Woods pebble

Tiger Woods holds the US Open trophy after a record breaking victory at Pebble Beach

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the 2000 season, Woods won nine of the 20 events that he entered. This included the US Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship as well as the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Memorial Tournament and Bay Hill Invitational. His season long scoring average of 68.17 was also the lowest in PGA Tour history, exceeding the 68.33 average by Byron Nelson in 1945. He would go on to win the 2001 Masters and become the first golfer in history to hold all four Major championship titles.

Whilst McDowell’s comments are focused on the 2000 season, Woods went on to nearly eclipse the great heights he set himself in 2006. The season started as so many did, with victories at the Buick Invitational and Ford Championship at Doral, before he would face one of his toughest tests yet – coping with the death of his father, friend and mentor, Earl Woods.

After Earl’s passing, Tiger missed his first cut in a Major championship at the US Open but it was perhaps the catalyst to one the best streaks in the history of the game. Woods entered the 2006 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool fresh from a T2 finish at the Cialis Western Open and would go on to win the Championship by five, in what many describe as the best ball striking week the game has ever seen. But he didn’t stop there. Tiger would go on to win his next five PGA Tour starts, which included the PGA Championship, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and WGC-American Express Championship. During that time he was a combined 109 under par.

McDowell followed his Tweet by commenting, “Love replies to my Big Cat opinion below, especially @PepperellEddie. Problem when you mention the GOAT is that any slight sign of negativity gets criticised. My Tweet related to equipment only in 2000, not skill levels. Look up the story. It’s a great one.” A great story indeed, as there are so many when it comes to Tiger's career. 

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Tiger Royal Liverpool

Tiger Woods is consoled by his caddie after victory at the 2006 Open Championship; his first since the passing of his father, Earl Woods.

(Image credit: Getty Images)
James Hibbitt

James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.