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Tiger Woods 2000 - Best Season Ever?

Ben Hogan so thoroughly dominated professional golf in 1953 that when he returned home from the British Open after winning his third major championship, he was treated to a ticker-tape parade.

For Tiger Woods, they might as well save the confetti.

He not only matched Hogan's feat of three majors in one season, he set a new benchmark of domination by winning his fourth out of the last five, winning the PGA Championship on Sunday in a thrill-a-minute playoff over Bob May.

Is it the greatest season ever in golf?

"Three major championships and the season is not over for Tiger," Tom Watson said. "It would rank right up with the best."

Bobby Jones won the Grand Slam in 1930, but that was at a time in which the "majors" were defined as the U.S. Open and Amateur and the British Open and Amateur. Jones never turned professional.

Hogan turned in what is generally regarded as the greatest single-season feat in golf in 1953. He was 41, his legs still weak from a car accident four years earlier that nearly killed him, when he won five of the six tournaments he played.

He won the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open, the only majors he entered. Hogan couldn't play the PGA Championship that year because it was held the same week as British Open qualifying, and Hogan's legs could not have carried him for over 200 holes of the match-play format.

"Ben Hogan ... he has won so many tournaments it's scary -- especially after the car accident, to come back and play as well as he did," Woods said. "He was incredible. He played at a level that not too many players could ever attain."

History will determine that, because Woods is just getting warmed up.

"I remember Hogan in his heyday," said Peter Thomson, a five-time British Open champion. "He was equally awesome, very nearly unbeatable. The two compare favorably."

Only nine times since 1953 has a player gone to the PGA Championship with a chance to win three majors in one year. The closest anyone came was Watson, who tied for sixth in 1977. From the first round, it was clear that Woods is in a class by himself.

He had at least a share of the lead in all four rounds, the first PGA champion to do that since Nick Price in 1994. Woods has been in the lead for 11 of his last 12 rounds in the majors -- no one has ever been close to that level of domination.

The only difference at Valhalla Golf Club was the drama.

2000 - The best season ever by a golfer ?. Allsport.

May challenged him shot for shot, birdie for birdie, in one of the most thrilling finales to a major championship. Both players were 5 under on the back nine, and the suspect shots only resulted in brilliant saves.

In the first three-hole playoff in PGA history, Woods took control with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole. He saved par on No. 17 by hitting an approach under the trees, off a cart path and just over the green. And he became the first repeat champion in the PGA since Denny Shute in 1937 when he got up-and-down from a bunker on No. 18 for par.

"It's got to go down as one of the best duels in the game in major championships," Woods said. "Granted, there have been some great ones, but I think this one is right up there. Both of us shoot 31 on the back nine on Sunday afternoon with no bogeys. I played the last 12 holes 7 under. That's not too bad."

A great finish, indeed.

And perhaps the greatest year in golf, one that is still not over for Woods.

While Hogan won a higher percentage of tournaments, Woods' spectacular play is measured in more than just the majors.

He started the season off by going eagle-birdie-birdie to defeat Ernie Els in a playoff at the Mercedes Championship in Hawaii. A month later, he rallied from seven shots down with seven holes to play to win the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

It was his sixth consecutive PGA Tour victory and matched the longest streak since Hogan won six in a row in 1948.

And while Hogan won three majors in 1953 by lopsided margins, Woods redefined the meaning of a runaway.

He won the U.S. Open by 15 strokes, shattering the record set by Old Tom Morris in the 1862 British Open. Woods also became the first player to win a U.S. Open in double digits below par (12 under).

On to St. Andrews, where at 24 he became the youngest player to complete the career Grand Slam with an eight-stroke victory in the British Open. Woods finished with a 19-under 269, the lowest score in relation to par at major.

Woods and May finished 72 holes at 18-under 270, the lowest in relation to par in PGA history. That means Woods now holds the scoring record in all four major championships.

Thomson, who played against Hogan and marvels at Woods, finds in difficult to compare eras because of equipment, the new breed of talent, courses and even the incentives that didn't exist 50 years ago.

Still, he said Woods' endless summer ranks with the best.

"I'm in awe of him," Thomson said. "There's never been a player like him. But I don't say there never will be another one."

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