Woods continued to excel in 2007 and the first part of 2008. In April 2008, he underwent knee surgery and missed the next two months on the tour. Woods returned for the 2008 U.S. Open, where he struggled the first day but ultimately claimed a dramatic sudden death victory over Rocco Mediate that followed an 18-hole playoff, after which Mediate said, "This guy does things that are just not normal by any stretch of the imagination," and Kenny Perry added, "He beat everybody on one leg." Two days later, Woods announced that he would miss the remainder of the season due to additional knee surgery, and that his knee was more severely damaged than previously revealed, prompting even greater praise for his U.S. Open performance. Woods called it "my greatest ever championship." In Woods' absence, TV ratings for the remainder of the season suffered a huge decline from 2007.
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At age 19, Woods participated in his first PGA Tour major, the 1995 Masters, and tied for 41st as the only amateur to make the cut; two years later, he would win the tournament by 12 strokes. At age 20 in 1996, he became the first golfer to win three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles and won the NCAA individual golf championship. In winning the silver medal as leading amateur at The Open Championship, he tied the record for an amateur aggregate score of 281. He left college after two years in order to turn professional in the golf industry. In 1996, Woods moved out of California, stating in 2013 that it was due to the state's high tax rate.
Deutsche Bank Championship: Paired with Vijay Singh in final round of Deutsche Bank Championship to determine who would be World No. 1 at the end of play on Labor Day. Entered Monday's final round needing to make up a three-stroke deficit to Singh but both players shot 2-under 69 and he ended up with his 14th career runner-up finish and the No. 2 spot in the World for the first time since August 1999.
Masters Tournament: Finished T4 in his first start of the season, at the Masters Tournament. Recorded his first career eagle on the par-4 seventh hole in the final round at Augusta National and had a tournament-high four eagles. Collected the ninth top-five finish of his Masters career, joining Phil Mickelson, Ben Hogan, Tom Kite, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead and Tom Watson. The only other person with more top-fives at the Masters is Jack Nicklaus, with 15.
Early in Woods' career, a small number of golf industry analysts expressed concern about his impact on the competitiveness of the game and the public appeal of professional golf. Sportswriter Bill Lyon of Knight Ridder asked in a column, "Isn't Tiger Woods actually bad for golf?" (though Lyon ultimately concluded that he was not). At first, some pundits feared that Woods would drive the spirit of competition out of the game of golf by making existing courses obsolete and relegating opponents to simply competing for second place each week.