Tiger Woods has Holes in His Golf Resume
Tiger Woods is amazing. It seems as if there is nothing outside of his reach if he sets his sights on it. Barring any health issues, he will possibly own every significant record in the game when he is done. The only one in question would be the 11 tournament win streak of Byron Nelson. But let me remind you he’s now on a mini-streak of 3 in a row and playing better than ever.
Having said that, there are 2 curious holes in Tiger’s resume. First, he’s never won a Major Championship when not in the lead or tied for the lead starting the final round. All 12 of those wins have come from in front. That may say more about his aura of invincibility than anything else. When he is “on”, the field knows they are playing for second. But as good as he is, how come he has never overtaken the third round leader to win one of these things? Very surprising.
The other hole is Woods’ record in Ryder Cup & Presidents Cup team competitions. Oh, in singles he’s as dominant as he is in regular tournament play with 6 wins and a halved match in 9 outings. But when he has a partner, his record is dreadful. And it’s not in the difficult foursomes format (alternate shot) where the trouble comes in. He has a 7-7-2 record there, which is acceptable. But in fourballs, where he and his partner play their own ball, Woods’ combined record is 11 losses in 16 matches. That is stunning.
I have a theory on this. It seems to me that his partners become victims of Tiger’s aura. I believe they feel extra pressure to perform up to standard in what is already the ultimate pressure-cooker. Because if you play with the best player in the world and lose, guess whose fault it probably was? Fortunately for Tiger, he discovered at the 2005 Presidents Cup that Jim Furyk is the ultimate grinder and more oblivious to this than anybody else. Put that pairing down for a 3-1 record during the first 2 days of Ryder Cup, at the worst.
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I remember the years when watching golf for me was watching the beautiful greens, and I did so partially because there was nothing else to view on TV. No excitement. Can you imagine sitting a small child in front of the TV to watch golf years ago? Just try to imagine that. Today children and women like myself are glued to the screen when he is in the game. He brings such excitement to the game. At the tournaments everyone wants to know what field Tiger is playing, babies call out to him as he passes by. I know when Tiger is not in the game or is playing not up to Tiger-standard by just listening to the announcers, they try to find something exciting to report, but they sound somewhat bored.
What amazes me is no matter what he does, there are faultfinders. I believe that if he could win with one hand tied behind his back, there would be some who would say: "Yeah, but we have never seen him do it with the other hand tied behind his back. There is something wrong with his game." If he wins, "oh its because he intimidates"; if he loses, "oh how he is in a slump." He is only human, not invincible, not a god, enjoy him. This too is a passing phenomenon, something I am glad I saw, and interesting for you to report. Please try to imagine reporting golf minus Tiger, how many would read your columns, your blogs with excitement? Now I run home to watch golf or tape it because I enjoy it. That is amazing.
It is obvious from that Tiger Fan Club stuff you posted that you didn't really understand what I said AND you are not a fan of golf. Because I did not criticize Woods. I pointed out 2 anomalies in his record to date. But I have some news for you - the game was interesting before Tiger jumped on the stage. And if Tiger were to go away tomorrow, the game would still be interesting. At least for us golf fans.
If Im being honest-not to me. I'm young & female, I never saw anyone out there who prompted me to actually sit down & watch 4 full days of golf, besides Tiger.
Now I know that puts me in the role of casual golf fans in many seasoned eyes, but there are many more like me out there.
Anon was wrong, or being overly sensitive, in itimating that we cant have DISCUSSION about Tiger's game aside from the acknowledgements of his dominance. Everyone's got some achilles heel.
However, I agree with her about many in the media, and fans, who now insinuate Tiger's victories are somehow cheapened because he's not playing in Nicklaus' era with many rivals. Or that, as Dan Patrick said, he's not a great athlete, he's just IN SHAPE in a sport others aren't, so he may not be as good as he SEEMS.
To that I say-perhaps the others ARE playing up to their abilites, if they WERE in Nicklaus' era they might be just as competitive as his rivals. Perhaps Tigers game is simply honed to a very high level now.
This is a growing perception that rankles, but I think Anononymous chose the wrong instant to bring it up, because it doesnt seem relevant for this article.
What it means is, he is better under the gun than Nicklaus, who had a host of 2nd and 3rd place finishes in majors. That's it, case closed.
But I'm going to disagree with Ron Mon about Nicklaus under the gun. (RM might be just a little too young to remember the great man.) He was able to win from behind many times in Majors (and Tiger has yet to do that). Off the top of my head I can name the '75 Masters where he clipped Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf and the '86 Masters where he beat Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman - from behind. Nicklaus did not lose from the lead very often, but he did a few times. Most memorably he lost the Open to Tom Watson at Turnberry in '77 starting tied for the lead. Jack shot 66 in the final round to Watsons 65 and they finished 10 shots ahead of 3rd place. THAT level of play was amazing to witness.
Almost all of Nickalus' 2nd and 3rd place finishes did not come from him blowing a lead. Usually he would make a Sunday charge up the leaderboard. Sometimes he pulled it off, sometimes he just got close. You could almost see the leaders crumbling under the pressure they knew Nicklaus would bring - under the gun. I am very surprised that Tiger hasn't managed to do that yet.
Thought that was relevent since we're splitting hairs to find fault with media icons.
What it means is, he is better under the gun than Nicklaus, who had a host of 2nd and 3rd place finishes in majors. That's it, case closed.
Now you know why I call you Ron Monkey. As Shanks mentions, I guess you never heard of the "dual in the sun"? If you are tied for the lead, shoot a 68 and win by five strokes like Tiger did on Sunday, it's more about his weak competition than his greatness.
The biggest hole in his resume is one he can't fill. He never matched the record of Bobby Jones in his twenties.
So how is he the "greatest ever"? He may prove to be the most prolific due to longevity, which is Nicklaus' biggest claim to fame.
I personally consider Harry Vardon, Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen and Tommy Armour to be serious competition.
As far as losing to Rocca in '97, a 21 year-old Tiger was not playing well then, having actually missed a cut in his previous tournament, and playing on a course that did not set up for his strengths.
The way Tiger is playing now, it's hard to imagine anyone beating him head-to-head. Sergio Garcia and "Cool Hand" Luke Donald, the 2 highest ranked Euros, both withered under Tiger's intensity while playing head-to-head with him in the final round of the last 2 Major Championships.
Hagen smoked Jones in their 1926 72 hole competition billed as "The World Championship of Golf" (12 & 11). Hagen won 5 PGA Championships and 4 British Opens during the '20's, so Jones didn't dominate Hagen.
Jones was the dominant amateur player among the Ivy League elite and effete - the Old Guard country club crowd. Otherwise, he was just a big fish in a very small pond; if compared to today's vastly superior (and far, far larger) talent pool.
Walter Hagen NEVER won any US Open or British Open in which Bobby Jones played. Jones won FIVE. They both played in 14 of the same Major Championships. Jones finished higher in 11 of those events. And if you discount the 3 prior to Jones 21st birthday, Hagen finished better than Jones a grand total of 1 time. One.
And, please, don't crow about the PGA Championships. Jones was not eligible. If he was, the evidence says he'd have won most of those too.
By the same token, Hagen wasn't eligible for the British and US Amateurs. Hagen beat Jones soundly in their highly-publicized one-on-one match - Jones was in his prime, and hard-drinking Hagen was at the end of his career.
There are now more PGA professionals (28,000+) then there were golfers (5,000 to 10,000), when Hagen and Jones were mastering the game.
Jones was the king of the amateurs in the 1920's, but wouldn't get through Q-School today - that's my opinion. Today, Jones would be competing against a pool of tens of thousands of first-rate players... In the 1920's there were a few hundred at most.
Shanks - you really know your golf history. Can you tutor Ron Monkey?
1928 Olympic Gold Medal Winners:
High Jump- 6' 4 1/2"
100 meters- 10.8
Shot Put- 52'
Current U.S. High School Records:
High Jump- 7' 7"
100 meters- 10.13
Shot Put- 81' 3"
Discus- 234' 3"
There are more than a thousand times more people competing in organized athletics today (golf included), than in the 1920's.
A vastly larger talent pool = vastly superior performances... Statistics 101
16 lb. Shot Put- 75' 10 1/4"
2 kilo Discus- 243' 1/2"
He's setting his prey up for the kill. Let them all get worked up and overconcentrate thursday and friday, and then Tiger makes his run.
I usually don't compare eras, because for many reasons it's all relative. Jones just dominated his time. So did Nicklaus, and now Tiger is doing the same. But to address the bigger & stronger issue, I will say that if little Corey Pavin could be one of the best in the world at times during the past 10 years, I think Jones would've been able to compete today as well.
If you'll notice Nicklaus still has the US Open scoring record of 272 with Tiger. Tiger's was done on a par 72 Pebble Beach, while Nicklaus did his on a par 70 Baltusrol in 1980. That's pretty good while playing 8 less par 5s (and 8 more long par 4s, converted from par 5s) in a tournament. Nicklaus tied the low round in Major Championship history that year - a 63. When Nicklaus won that 1986 Masters, he finished 9 under par - at 46 years old too. Had Nicklaus played back then with todays equipment, he would've surely scored much, much lower.
As to your Corey Pavin arguement... Pavin, with his skill-set on 6400 yard courses, would have crushed Jones in the 20's.
As to "amateur status" position, c'mon Shanks - You know as well as I do that "Amateurism" in the 20's was a tool used by the Ivy-Leaguers to keep the "Great Unwashed" out of ther toney competitions. Travel was far more expensive than today, and only the rich could afford to go "on the curcuit". If a "less than wealthy" athlete took $5 dollars from a sponsor, he'd be booted (for life) from all "genteel" competition.
Jones was a spoiled (and ill-tempered) little rich kid who dominated the other spoiled little rich kids. The pro game was in it's infancy and purses were tiny ("touring pros" weren't allowed in the clubhouses at most country-club venues, and were often asked to enter the course through the "service" roads).
BTW, I don't contend that Hagen was a better player than Jones in the old days. My contention is that Jones didn't dominate Hagen... that they were about equal with Jones perhaps having a slight edge.
P.S. - I've been unable to find anything on the net regarding Hagen not having Jones in field in the four British Opens Hagen won in the 20's. Can you post a link?
They both played in all 11 US Opens from 1920-1930. Hagen never won any of those and finished ahead of Jones in only 2. Jones won four of those and finished 2nd in 4 others.
I don't know what to say about your overt resentment of American society and the golf game in general in the 1920's. But if travel was expensive for amateurs back then, it was also expensive for pros. I'm quite certain that if you took a talent like Jones and gave him modern equipment, he'd be able to make a representative showing on a 6400 yard course. C'mon now.
PS - you can check Hagens Record in wikipedia.
Quite right, In my opinion the social politics of the 1920's, particularly the elitist "amateur" athletic movement, was a national embarassment.
Jones was the "poster boy" for that '20's mindset. He was the biggest fish in a teensy little private pond. If he got tossed into the ocean of talent of today's game, he'd vanish off the radar screen.
Besides, because there were so few in the music business back in the 1700's, does that make Mozart any less of a musician? A genius is a genius.
By the way, Tiger Woods certainly didn't have to work for a living during his development now, did he?
He played in MORE tournaments as an amateur - nationwide - than Jones ever did.
If you are gonna knock the priviledge of Bobby Jones, you better start knocking Earl Woods as well.
Let's start with the inital premise. IF Woods has a hole in his record, the Ryder Cup would be it. How many guys have NEVER even had a lead in a major after 54 holes. If you can get 12, you are the man. After all, he didn't lead every major wire-to-wire. He had to come from behind AT SOME POINT.
Woods is actively trying to change his Ryder Cup record by being a leader. I am covering the Bridgestone this week for USA Network, and in my blog entry (http://www.digitalgolf.tv/community/?itemid=96) I detail some of the steps Woods is taking to provide leadership to the team.
As for the Bobby Jones/Tiger Woods argument, it is foolish to make that kind of determination. You can't compare Babe Ruth to Barry Bonds because the game is so different. Same with Jones and Woods. So, just enjoy Woods. By the time it is over, you will have seen the greatest. If Bobby Jones had access to nutrionists and video and solid core balls...maybe it woud be different.
Of course, then Jones' competitors would have had it, too. I wonder how much he would have had then. See, the arguments are foolish!
"If Bobby Jones had access to nutrionists [sic], and video and solid core balls...maybe it woud [sic] be different."
Nutritionists, video, solid core balls... interesting arguement. Oh, and welcome to the ship of fools!
In my response, "arguement" [sic] should read "argument" - Damn!
Perhaps, if he is not in the lead, his fellow competitors believe he is vulnerable and then play with more confidence.
Relax, when you're a famous public figure, critiques of all stripes come with the territory. And this is the case no matter WHO you are.
It is also the very essence of commentary. After all, if all journalists did was sing Woods' praises, commentary would become rather one dimensional, wouldn't it?
Also, it's obvious that you don't realize that what one finds "exciting" is a very personal matter. I, for one, don't find Woods exciting. Believe it or not, it's much more exciting for me when Vijay Singh -- a man who is thought by many to be the embodiment of banality -- is in contention. I also tend to find the Champions Tour to be more exciting than the PGA, which should also come as a shock to you. Why? Well, why may one prefer chocolate over vanilla? We're dealing with emotion-based preferences and matters of taste here.
In that vein, I also found golf to be more exciting when Nicklaus was playing. You, however, have obviously glommed onto Woods, which is your right. But I would bear in mind that there are golf fans -- and then there are Woods fans. You obviously fall into the latter category.
Lastly, the case could be made that Woods renders the game more boring for many, as his dominance can often rob an event of drama. For instance, I recorded the tournament yesterday. When watching it, I found myself fast forwarding through much of the "action" when it appeared as if Woods might run away with it.
I want to see drama. If a tournament is devoid of that quality, the remote is utilized with extreme prejudice.
While Keeler (and perhaps Grantland Rice) considered the four tourneys to be the most important, the pros of the day disagreed as to calling the US and British amateurs "Majors", as pros were obviously not permitted to take part in them. Pros like Tommy Armour, Jock Hutchison, Walter Hagen, and Gene Sarazen were stiff competition for Jones. They were far better than any of the amateur competition, so Jones "wins" in the the US and British amateurs were "Majors" only in the mind of O.B. Keeler.
The term "Grand Slam", for golf, did not exist in 1930, and likely did not exist until Keeler/Rice coined the term in 1953... much to the chagrin of Hagen, Sarazen, Armour, et al.
If Tiger's simultaneous holding of all four Major professional titles can be termed the "Tiger Slam", then Jones' simultaneous holding of two Open titles and two Amateur titles can only fairly be termed as the "Bobby Slam".
During the 8 year period that Jones dominated, neither Sarazen or Hagen ever won a Major that Jones participated in. The Squire was Hagen's primary professional competition.
"During the 8 year period that Jones dominated, neither Sarazen or Hagen ever won a Major that Jones participated in."
Is there a source you can direct me to that verifies that statement? Can find nothing on the web to that effect. Is there a book or books that have published the entire fields for these events?
I'm wondering about the source of the "fact" that, "Sarazen or Hagen [n]ever won a Major that Jones participated in". My hunch is that it came from Grantland Rice or O.B. Keeler.
Rice was best known a "myth-maker". Rice was a charter member of Augusta National and a close friend of Jones and Cliff Richards (Rice is said to have convinced the other charter members of Augusta to let Jones and Richards run the club any way the two saw fit). O.B. Keeler was Jones' closest pal, and is said to have logged 150,000 miles traveling with Jones to tourneys in the US and Europe.
My point is that neither Rice nor Keeler could be considered independent sources, and both were prone to gross exaggeration in their sports columns.
BTW, it was fun to watch Tiger come from behind and beat a strong field with his B-game at the World Championship of Golf, or Bridgestone, or as the locals call it, "the Firestone thingie".
Partly because of the difficulty of Trans-Atlantic trval in those days, Jones entered the Open Championship just 4 times - in '21, '26, '27 & '30 - winning the last three times he played in it.
Cink looked to have him when Tiger's par putt on the 3rd playoff hole came up short. I'm thinking Tiger might be involved in withcraft ....
Voodoo? If so, Woods must have also had his B-mojo working as Cink's drive deep into the left-side timber on the second playoff hole careened 30 yards right and miraculously into a perfect fairway lie.
By the way, Keeler's book wasn't Keeler's book at all. Keeler died in '50. Grantland Rice acquired Keeler's note and "compiled" the book That was published in '53.
Cink getting that bounce was a cosmic make-up for the fan that did the Wilt Chamberlain save on Tiger's teeball in the PGA. That was the most enthusiastic rebound from the gallery since Arnie's heyday .....
"Here's a startling checkup on the rest of the "Big Five" from the start of the year: Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Retief Goosen and Ernie Els were a combined 25-over par at the Bridgestone Invitational."
[from press release]
I do think it is surprising that Woods has never come from behind in a major, especially considering he made his legend coming from behind as both an amateur and a pro. I detail my reasons for his lack of a major comeback here, but to summarize, the difficulty of a major course setup makes it difficult to force the issue. Tiger makes that work for him when he leads, and he can't overcome it when he trails (2005 U.S. Open is a perfect example). It is the reason Nicklaus thought no one could beat him if he played from the fairway all day.
Tiger's "holes", just like his "A" game, are relative. We have seen greatness, and when the master is not at his best sometimes we snicker.
But, the fact that we are debating the small chinks in the armor should show how great the armor is.
Golf is a totally different game now to that of the Palmer-Nicklaus era. The number of potential pro golfers in every part of the world has increased enourmously. It is now much more difficult to dominate golf now than it was 30 years ago when it was still a somewhat elitist sport.
I believe that today's also-rans would have been more than competive in the Niclaus era. I also believe that most people think that Tiger is the greatest golfer of all time, even though the polite thing to do is to wait until the records are actually broken.
Read your account - makes sense.
I think he does uses a similar strategy in normal tour events -
Thursday and Friday he plays safe... He'll take birdies if available, but won't chase them. Goal - Make the cut! Hopefully within five shots (or so) of the lead.
Saturday - Shoot for the flags. If he can grab the lead one out of four tourneys, and hold it on Sunday, he's got the best PGA winning average in the history of the game - 25%.
Sunday - If leading, let the pack shoot for flags to go low - Tiger can usually win playing "damage control". If he's behind on Sunday - he shoots for flags with the rest of the field - he'll pick up a few extra wins living dangerously on day four.
However, most wins are safely in the bag on day three.
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