Retrospective: Tiger Woods' 2006 season

For Tiger Woods, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times in 2006. The highs are memorable. Two major championship titles. Six other PGA Tour victories. Over $10 million in worldwide earnings. The lows are unforgettable. The death of his father, Earl. A missed cut at the ensuing U.S. Open. A third straight Ryder Cup defeat.

Through it all, ESPN.com was there to chronicle the life and times of the world's most popular athlete, both on and off the course. As part of our Year in Review, we bring you the best of our writings on Tiger Woods.

Woods was up to his usual tricks to begin the PGA Tour season. He won his first event of the year, the Buick Invitational, in a playoff over Jose Maria Olazabal and Nathan Green. He then added another title at Doral in March, already showing signs of what would become an historic year.

New generation is product of the Tiger Woods Impact
• Rookies like J.B. Holmes, Bubba Watson and Camilo Villegas made waves early in the season. As Ron Sirak wrote, all are examples of a new generation on the PGA Tour -- one spawned by Tiger. StoryInsider (Originally posted on Feb. 6.)

Tiger is leader of the pack
• For a few years, Woods was joined in golf's Big Five by Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. But early in the year, wrote Bob Harig, it was clear the elite class had been divided between Tiger and everyone else. StoryInsider (Originally posted on Feb. 14.)

Woods is going to be around for a while
• After Tiger turned 30, Mark Kreidler took the stance that the game's best player is better than ever and showing no signs of letting up. StoryInsider (Originally posted on Feb. 15.)

Victories keep on coming for Woods
• Following his win at Doral, Tiger found it more difficult than ever to win. But the impressive thing is that he continued piling up victories, wrote Bob Harig. StoryInsider (Originally posted on March 5.)

Others can't hang with Tiger
• Is there a gag factor for other players when competing with Woods? Ron Sirak wrote that Tiger wasn't so much winning golf tournaments as everyone else is losing them. StoryInsider (Originally posted on March 6.)

Woods entered this year's Masters Tournament with a chance to claim his fifth career green jacket and second in as many years. Though he finished in a share of third place (Mickelson took the title), Woods still garnered plenty of attention.

Where's the younger generation?
• Golf's 20-somethings used to win majors, wrote Bill Fields. Of course, that's before Tiger turned 30. So what's up with the young guns? StoryInsider (Originally posted on April 3.)

Tiger feels Jack's pain
• Woods never experienced true heartache at a major until Sunday at Augusta National. As Bob Harig wrote, Tiger finally found out how Jack Nicklaus often felt. StoryInsider (Originally posted on April 9.)

Tiger's life was forever changed on May 3, when his father and best friend, Earl Woods, succumbed to cancer at age 74. Following the funeral in California, Tiger didn't play in a PGA Tour event for nine weeks. He returned for the U.S. Open, shooting 76-76 to miss the cut at a major for the first time as a professional.

Earl's lessons show on the course
• Earl Woods taught his son less about playing golf than winning golf tournaments, wrote Tim Rosaforte. It's because of his dad that Tiger is a champion. StoryInsider (Originally posted on May 3.)

Tiger learned from Dad
• Of course, Earl taught Tiger more than golf, too. Pete McDaniel wrote about the virtues of loyalty and honesty that were handed down from father to son. StoryInsider (Originally posted on May 3.)

What's next for Tiger?
• After the passing of his father, we should have expected Tiger to return to doing what he does best -- winning golf tournaments, wrote Jason Sobel. StoryInsider (Originally posted on May 4.)

Woods wouldn't play before he was ready
• Anyone who thought Woods would tee it up again before he was ready to win just doesn't know him very well, wrote John Hawkins. StoryInsider (Originally posted on May 30.)

Tiger steps up to the mic
• For the first time since his father's death, Tiger addressed the media on Tuesday at the U.S. Open, briefly revealing a side we don't often see. Ivan Maisel shared what he saw. StoryInsider (Originally posted on June 13.)

Missing the cut was merciful conclusion
• Woods' week at the U.S. Open ended like none had before -- on Friday. As Gene Wojciechowski wrote, it was a merciful conclusion to a week in which nothing went right. StoryInsider (Originally posted on June 16.)

Of course, Woods wouldn't stay down for long. In his next event after the U.S. Open, he finished T-2 at the Western Open, showing signs of being on the verge of more success. That's exactly what happened, as Tiger followed with victories at the British Open and PGA Championship. They were his 11th and 12th major titles and helped Woods' legacy grow even stronger.

Time for the Tiger of old
• Prior to the British Open, Pat Forde claimed that golf fans needed Woods to be in the mix at Royal Liverpool. It was time for Tiger the Great to return. StoryInsider (Originally posted on July 18.)

Woods changes his strategy
• Earl would have been proud of the way his boy won the British Open, as Tiger used brains rather than brawn, wrote Pat Forde. StoryInsider (Originally posted on July 23.)

No driver, no problem at Open
• By keeping driver in the bag, Woods was able to outthink his British Open competition and earn a second straight Claret Jug. In victory, Jason Sobel contended, Tiger was able to change his stripes. StoryInsider (Originally posted on July 23.)

Opponents succumb to Tiger's success
• Was Woods the Open Doctor? As Bob Verdi wrote, Tiger decided on the prescription, and the other British Open contenders took their medicine. StoryInsider (Originally posted on July 26.)

Woods can win in many ways
• He can win with the driver or without it. He can win by going low or methodically making pars. Tiger has proven to be the world's most innovative player, wrote Bob Harig. StoryInsider (Originally posted on Aug. 8.)

The best is yet to come
• Woods looked simply dominating in winning the PGA Championship. But as Ron Sirak wrote, we still haven't seen the best of Tiger. StoryInsider (Originally posted on Aug. 20.)

The greatest athlete ever?
• How's this for a proclamation: Tiger Woods isn't just the greatest golfer we've ever seen. He's the greatest athlete of all time, said Gene Wojciechowski. StoryInsider (Originally posted on Aug. 20.)

What if Tiger played tennis?
• What if Earl Woods had placed a tennis racquet in his son's hands 30 years ago? Would golf still be searching for its Tiger? Jason Sobel asked those questions after the PGA Championship. StoryInsider (Originally posted on Aug. 20.)

Woods' domination still compelling
• Even when Tiger wins going away, he turns major championships into extremely riveting events, wrote Ivan Maisel. StoryInsider (Originally posted on Aug. 20.)

Passing Nicklaus a foregone conclusion
• Here's a thought to ponder: By earning his 12th major victory at age 30, Bob Harig contended that it is now inevitable Woods will surpass Jack Nicklaus' major victory total. StoryInsider (Originally posted on Aug. 20.)

While Woods was mowing down all comers at individual events, he couldn't lift the U.S. Ryder Cup team to victory in Ireland. In his new role as team leader, Tiger went 3-2 at The K Club, but it hardly mattered, as the Americans were trounced for a third straight Cup. Of course, that was about the only tournament Woods didn't win during the second half of '06. He concluded the season with a six-event PGA Tour winning streak.

Still the greatest ever
• Gene Wojciechowski proclaimed Woods to be the greatest athlete of our time five weeks earlier at the PGA Championship. Though many disagreed, he stuck to his opinions in Ireland. StoryInsider (Originally posted on Sept. 19.)

Woods taking aim at Nelson's record
• Woods has plenty of motivation to break Byron Nelson's record of 11 consecutive victories, wrote Ron Sirak. You just know he'll break Lord Byron's mark. StoryInsider (Originally posted on Oct. 2.)

One for the ages
• Whether you consider it a streak or not, Tim Rosaforte said that Tiger's run of six wins is one for the ages. StoryInsider (Originally posted on Oct. 2.)

When Woods wasn't busy picking up trophies and oversized checks during the season's final months, he was resting. Tiger skipped his fair share of late-season tournaments, including the prestigious year-end Tour Championship.

Why don't we see Woods every week?
• The Chrysler Championship is one of 11 events on this year's PGA Tour schedule that has never played host to the top-ranked player. As Bob Harig noted, we didn't see Woods there this year, either. Story (Originally posted on Oct. 24.)

Give him a break
• His father's death. The six-event win streak. Tiger Woods witnessed the lowest of lows and highest of highs in '06. Maybe he deserved a break during the Tour Championship, wrote Jason Sobel. Story (Originally posted on Oct. 30.)

'Hey Tiger? It's Phil ...'
• Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson didn't play in the Tour Championship, but they did talk and Ron Sirak got the transcript. Story (Originally posted on Nov. 6.)