Woods Describes His One And Only 59

Tiger recalls the astonishing 1997 round that gave him the confidence to win The Masters the following week

Tiger Woods plays a shot in the second round of the The Masters in 1997
(Image credit: Getty Images)

On 4 April 1997,  the world had yet to witness Tiger Woods ascend to greatness. That would come soon enough. A week later, in The Masters, Woods stormed to one of the most famous victories Augusta National has ever witnessed, as he dominated to win the Green Jacket by 12 strokes. However, on that early April day a week earlier, then 21-year-old played another astonishing round that saw him post his only 59 to date.

Woods, who is currently recovering from injuries he sustained in a car accident a year ago, recently spoke to Golf Digest to recount the story behind his lowest-ever round, at Isleworth. Reeling off his list of birdies and eagles as casually as many people would a shopping list, Woods explained: “So I was playing with Mark O’Meara – this is ’97, so it’s a week prior to The Masters and we teed off on the back nine at Isleworth and I par 10, birdie 11 and 12. I eagle 13. I birdie 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and one. I have a three iron into number three, the par five. I made par. I have a five iron into number seven, the par five, and I made par, and I still shoot 59.”

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That 59 gave Woods 13 under for the par 72 course. But, of course, being such a fierce competitor, he still wasn’t entirely satisfied with his day’s work. On the run of pars that punctuated the second half of his round, Woods said: “I had the opportunity to do something even really lower.” Nevertheless, Woods wasn’t finished there. Undeterred by his “failure” to post an even lower score, he went out the next day and played more scintillating golf – and it was all a little too much for Mark O’Meara, his playing partner, to handle. “We teed off on 10 again, and I birdie 10 and then make a hole-in-one on 11 and then Mark left, so it was a hell of a two days.”

Woods admitted that those two days of golf contributed to his soaring confidence going into The Masters. However, another round in the 50s has so far eluded him. “I’ve never shot 60 in my life. I’ve shot 61 a bunch of times, but I’ve never shot 60, and I’ve only shot 59 once,” he explained. Even if that remains the case, as a precursor to one of the most illustrious careers the game has seen, that solitary 59 is surely up there with the most noteworthy.

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.