May 12, 2013; Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, USA; Tiger Woods hits his tee shot safely onto the 17th green during The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass - Stadium Course. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Who is the Greatest Golfer of all Time?


The greatest of all time. The GOAT.  Legends like Michael Jordan, Willie Mays, and Jerry Rice.  Their legacies will stand as testaments to their greatness.  Yet, the conversations will always turn to ever evolving games.

Would Jordan be able to dominate in the modern NBA, with speed and strength pushing physical limits? With so few teams in the Majors did Mays play with truly the greatest athletes in the world?  Could Rice play every game in today’s injury laden NFL?

This brings me to the argument with Tiger and Jack.  In a game where the only one you are playing against is the course and yourself, the GOAT argument seems to be more relevant for golf than in other major sports.

You can compare the numbers (and you’d better believe that Tiger knows the numbers), victories, major championships and statistics, but the verdict won’t be truly determined for likely another decade.

I’m no fortune-teller, but time continues to stack the odds against Mr. Woods.

Looking at it from a statistical point-of-view, Jack’s longest major victory drought was six years.  This came at the end of his career and (audible “gulp” from Tiger inserted here) he did not win another major after that.  Granted, Nicklaus was 45 when that happened.  Tiger has 7 years on him in that category, and sports medicine and technology would lead you to believe that Tiger’s longevity will extend beyond Jack’s as far as playing years go.

But Tiger is way beyond his prime.  He just came off his worst performance in a major and as of late, even when he has finished in the top ten, he has been virtually out of the hunt on Sunday.  Historically he does not come from behind in majors, and as of late he cannot hold a lead going into the weekend, let alone Sunday.

Apr 11, 2013; Augusta, GA, USA; Jack Nicklaus hits his ceremonial tee shot before the first round of the 2013 The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports

I am a Tiger fan.  What he has done for the game of golf cannot be measured, and his impact on the game will be felt for another generation or more.  (Heck, my dad who is a huge Nicklaus fan won’t watch a tournament if Tiger isn’t playing.)  His streak, which included the “Tiger Slam”, from 1999-2002 was legendary.  But the time to hit the panic button has long passed.

With another major come and gone, the clock is ticking.  How will we remember Tiger Woods?

Will he go down as one of the greats or the greatest of all time? Time will tell, but for now, The Golden Bear is sitting comfortably above Tiger, alone atop golf’s food chain.

 

 

Tags: Featured Greatest Jack Nicklaus Tiger Woods

  • http://twitter.com/Spin_47 Les Bailey

    Very good read Erik.

  • Cam

    Nice article. The odds of Nicklaus holding his career wins record is looking better and better…

  • Erik Catalan

    Thanks, Les! It’s hard to count Tiger out when he is still winning so many tournaments, but it seems like the major magic is gone. I certainly expect him to him to pass Sam Snead, though, in career victories within the next year or two.