What defines an athlete as “the best of all time?” Is it the number of championship rings or trophies? What about the number of overall wins or pure dominance of a single superstar? While picking out the best baseball or football star may be hard to choose, Michael Jordan has the title in the NBA and Tiger Woods deserves it in the PGA.
Since winning his first few majors as a young professional, Woods has been compared to the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer. While some agree he is already the best to ever play, the critics still outweigh the opposition heavily.
Why is that? Especially after seeing what he did over the weekend. After shooting a second round 9-under 61 in the Bridgestone Invitational on his way to his 79th career tour win and eighth win at the event, Woods is still labeled as second best.
I’m not saying that one tournament defines a player at all. I am simply stating that not everything relies on majors in the world of golf. Yes, Jack has the record at 18, but Woods is still right there at 14 and is only 37-years old.
Woods’ dominance of the competition this past weekend deserves to carry a lot more stock than what it’s getting.
The stats don’t lie either. In his career on the PGA Tour, Woods has won 26 percent of the events he has played. He has also finished in the top 10 in 60 percent of those events. Astonishing.
Compared to Jack, there is no comparison.
Jack played in 594 events and won just 73, a mark that Woods has surpassed already. That is a whopping 12-percent winning percentage.
When majors are brought into the conversation, Woods is still the better player percentage-wise, winning 22 percent of the tournaments entered. Jack won just 11 percent in his career. Just to throw another number in the mix, Woods has only missed 17 overall cuts IN HIS CAREER. Jack missed double that in majors alone.
On paper, the wins and losses get measured clearly by numbers and the length of courses, and strength of competition is not considered.
Augusta National Golf Course, home of the Masters, didn’t reach a length of 7,000 yards until the 1980s when it went from 6,980 to 7,040. Since Woods has been pro, the course has gone from right under 7,000 to 7,435, making the course a whole hole harder compared to when Jack played.
Some courses, such as a couple St. Andrews links, have been taken off the PGA circuit because of the lengths being too short for players now. Some Pebble Beach courses have been axed as well.
And why is no one talking about Snead? The man only owns the record for most wins overall at 82. Should he not have some recognition as the best ever over Jack as well? Woods is set up to pass Snead this year for most wins ever and could potentially hold the all-time. The next closest golfer still playing is Phil Mickelson at 42 career wins, and the next after him is Davis Love III at 20.
Woods reached the mark of 79 six years sooner than Sneed.
The competition is so much more intense now than it was in Jack’s day. Now there are 20-25 legitimate pros that could win any tournament any week. Jack competed with just a few that could really hang with him. The evolution of the game has changed so much over the years that a win deserves to be counted on a high standard than in the 60s and 70s.
My point is simple. Tiger Woods is the greatest to ever swing a club and should be recognized as just that.