Special to Sports News Highlights

(SNH) — Tiger Woods was so dominant during his heyday of the late 1990s and well into the 2000s that he never had a true rival.

Phil? Maybe, at times. Rory, meanwhile, was never a serious threat as the century progressed.

However, back in 1999, when the PGA Championship was held at historic Medinah Country Club in west suburban Chicago, it looked like for one August weekend that Woods might have to deal with another young hot shot – a Spaniard by the name of Sergio Garcia.

“I said when I turned pro, I wanted to be the No. 1 golfer in the world. So, I knew I would be a rival for Tiger,” the then-19-year-old Garcia said during the tournament, as told by The Associated Press.

As time went on, though, the rivalry between the two never materialized. Woods, who won the '99 PGA Championship by one stroke over Garcia, has claimed 15 major titles to date. Meanwhile, Garcia has just one major victory -- the 2017 Masters

However, amid another PGA Championship this week, it’s worth celebrating the 25th anniversary of the ‘99 event. When the golf between a stoic, focused Woods and outgoing, precocious, 19-year-old Garcia was exciting, and captivated the galleries and folks like no other time, perhaps, in the modern history of the game.

“I’ve never had so much fun playing golf,” Garcia said at the conclusion of the tournament, as reported by The Associated Press. 
 

Setting the stage 

At the time, the then-23-year-old Woods was two years removed from his remarkable victory at the 1997 Masters, his first career victory of the kind. However, he hadn’t won another major entering the ‘99 PGA.

Meanwhile the upstart Garcia turned heads out of the gate at Medinah, shooting a first-round, 6-under-par 66 to hold a 2-stroke lead after Day One. Woods was four shots back. However, the roles reversed Friday, when Woods vaulted into third place after his second-round 67, while Garcia dropped into a tie for fifth following a rough 73.

Each sported matching 68s on Saturday, leaving Tiger tied for the lead with Mike Weir at 11 under, and Sergio two shots back, tied for third at minus 9. What was to come Sunday is still talked about to this day. 

Game on 

Woods led by as five shots after 11 holes during Sunday’s final round at Medinah. However, it was Garcia who further ignited the Medinah galleries in his favor due to his splendid Sunday showing and memorable exuberant antics.

As Woods stood on the elevated tee of the 219-yard, par-3 13th hole, he watched Garcia sink a 15-foot birdie on the same green. Then Sergio grabbed his ball out of the hole, held it up while throwing down a stare – and the gauntlet – at Woods.

It sent the place into a joyous frenzy. The challenge was on, and golf fans watching couldn’t get enough. The normally cool, calm Woods then sailed his drive on 13 into the deep rough and ended up with a double bogey.

Garcia, though, gave a stroke back on the 15th, before his legendary effort on 16. There, his drive rolled up next to a tree. Instead of playing it safe and chipping into the fairway, Garcia let it rip. With a 6-iron, and his eyes closed, he banged the ball onto the green, while leaping and skipping down the fairway to watch.

All the while the crowd’s roar grew louder.

Garcia ended up with a rather miraculous par. However, he missed birdie chances on both 17 and 18 to finish the round at 1-under 71, and minus 10 for the tournament.

Woods, instead, recorded a two-put par on the final hole for an even-par 72 and 11-under finish to become the youngest golfer since Seve Ballesteros in 1980 to win two major championships.

But, as things unfolded, he certainly had to earn it at Medinah. 

“To come out of it on top took everything out of me,” Woods told the media following his victory. “I just tried to hold (Garcia) off and did the best I could.”

Golf fans who remember watching all that final-round drama at Medinah in 1999 proved to be the most grateful.

Follow Sports News Highlights on Facebook and X platform to get our headlines in your social feeds.

Copyright 2024 Sports News Highlights. All rights reserved.