Golf: Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods, is the third member of the group, who should be considered the greatest golfer of all time, and thanks to the alphabet, I have saved the best for last. Despite the fact that I wrote, that Sam Snead should be in this group, the debate always boils down to Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. Those that feel that Nicklaus is the best, will always point to his major championship record, which is second to none. There is no doubt that people look at the performances in major championships, as golf’s holy grail. We need a little historical background on major championships, to put them in a proper prospective. Although Tiger Wood’s major championship record is not as good as Nicklaus’s, it is not all that far behind, when you look at the entire history of golf.

When Nicklaus was trying to win the most major championships of all time, he was chasing Bobby Jones. Jones had won 13 major championships, which included the U. S. and British Amateur, where he won 5 and 1 respectively. He won 4 US Opens and 3 British Opens to round out his 13 majors. When Nicklaus was making his run at Jones, he had won 2 US Amateur titles, before turning pro in 1962. Walter Hagen had 11 professional major titles. He won 3 US Open, 3 British Opens, and 5 PGA Championships. He won 4 PGA’s in a row when the event was all match play. Speaking of greatness, he is the greatest match play player of all time. It was convenient when Nicklaus won his 14th major, which included his 2 amateur wins, he broke Jones’s major record, and Hagen’s professional major record, at the same time. As the years went by Nicklaus’s majors number always included his amateur wins. When he won that memorable Masters in 1986, it was stated that this was his 20th major championship, which in 1986, looked like a record that would never be approached, let alone broken. Then, along comes Tiger, and all of a sudden, the talk is only about the 18 professional majors that Nicklaus won, like the US amateur is not considered a major any more. No one had the guts, to write that the great Bob Jones, now only had 7 majors. If you count Tiger’s 3 US Amateur wins, then that brings his total to 18 and only 2 behind Nicklaus. They both have won the 4 professional majors, 3 times each. Jack has won one more Masters, one more US Open, and one more PGA, thus the 2 more career majors. You just can not change, what is considered a major as time goes by. If it was counted as a major in 1980, then it is a major today. Even though Jack’s record in the majors, is still the best, Tiger is a close second, for sure.

Tiger is the G.O.A.T, because he just has done too many things that no one has ever done, plain and simple. The only person to win 3 US Amateurs in a row. The youngest to win all 4 majors, doing it when he was 24, about 2 years younger than Nicklaus. His making the cut 142 straight times, should be enough to put him at the top. He broke Byron Nelson’s record of 111 and Jack made a good run, with 105. Hale Irwin follows with 86 and Dow Finsterwald is 5th at 72, just a little above half of Tiger’s mark. Tiger was the only player to win 4 professional majors in a row. See, I know how to sneak that professional word in too. He has the lowest career scoring average. He is tied with Sam Snead for 82 wins. He has led the money list 10 times, Nicklaus is second with 8, and Tom Watson and Ben Hogan did it 5 times, each. Biggest victory margin in the US Open 15, next Willie Anderson 11 in 1899. Biggest victory margin in the Masters 12, Jack second with 9. Biggest victory margin in British Open 8. Two other golfers matched this record, J. H. Taylor, 1900 and 1913, and James Braid in 1908. The major he does not have the biggest victory margin, is the PGA, where he did win by 5 once, but Rory has the record at 8. He has 41 European Tour wins which is 3rd all time. Tiger has won Bay Hill 8 times, and The World Invitational at Firestone 8 times, tying him with Snead for the most wins at one event. He is 14 and 1 when holding or sharing the third round lead in a major. He has won a record 22.8% of his starts on the PGA tour. Nicklaus won about 12% of his. There may one player on tour today, who is close to 10%, but that is about it. He won the Vardon Trophy a record 9 times. Last but not least his playoff record is 15-2. Ben Hogan’s playoff record is 2 and 9. Any questions. Tiger is it, baby.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Back after about a 2 and 1/2 week hiatus. My play has been interesting if not spectacular. Of my last 19 rounds, 15 of them have been between 73 and 77, with the other 4 being 78, 79, 80, and 81. Most of them have been between 75 and 77 with the last three, being 77. I know there are some people who would die for a “streak” like that, but I am feeling frustrated. I have not shot a par round this year and I haven’t felt like any one part of my game has been all that solid. I did go through one stretch when I hit my irons really well, but other than that I have had my usual problems. But I have been able to rake it around, and shoot in the mid seventies pretty consistantly. I don’t have any conclusions drawn from the last two weeks of play, but that’s just the way it has been.

We, as golfers, are always talking about how hard the game of golf is, for various reasons. Rather than say the game is hard, I think we should change the wording, and thus the thought process, from hard to complex. Lets give a prime example. We all talk about how important it is to know how far we hit each club. This is true only to a certain degree. I hit my 50 degree wedge 110 yards. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it. So if I am 110 yards from the middle of the green I should hit my 50 degree. However, there are 80 combinations of the way the ball is lying on the ground, and in the grass, and the conditions that we are playing in, that will affect how far that ball will travel. I am not going through all those combinations now, but trust me there are that many, especially here in Western Pa. It is our awareness and how we evaluate those conditions that will dictate how successful we are in executing a good shot. We are talking about conditions that can make a difference of 20 or 30 yards on a shot of only 110 yards. It is even more so on longer shots. So pay attention and think complex not hard.

Finally and maybe even least, Tiger Woods is going to  swing number 5.  A quick review. Swing number 1 won the Masters by 12 shots.  Swing number 2 won 7 majors and 20 sum odd tournaments. Swing number 3 won 6 majors and 20 sum odd tournaments. Swing number 4 gave him a dominate 2013 where he was player of the year, again No. 1 in the world, but alas no majors. You noticed I haven’t mentioned any names. I don’t think the names are important. But who will guide swing number 5. Will he go back to one of the old swings. Highly unlikely. I know I am in the minority but I think Tiger will come back full blast and even past Jack Nicklaus. Of course there is one big if. He has to get healthy. If his back and knee continue to be a problem, then he is done. He may win one major on just talent and guts, but he will never be a force unless he has all the physical tools. So what will swing number 5 be like. Maybe he will swing like Lee Trevino. I think he should swing like Annika. Was there ever a better more fluid swing in the last 50 years. That premature release of the head should take the strain off the back. So Tiger, go find Annika’s coach, and make swing number 5 the most fluid and stress free swing since Sam Snead.

%d bloggers like this: