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Friday, 1 December 2017

Tiger Woods Greatest " By Far"?

If you were to listen to the talking heads gush over Tiger Woods this past week, you might reasonably conclude that no one who played this game before Tiger, and no one who has teed it up since, could hold a candle to Tiger in terms of golfing greatness or ability. Brandel Chamblee, who is a golf historian of sorts, went so far as to assert that Tiger was "by far" the greatest player ever to play the game.

Let me just say, Tiger Woods was one of the greatest players we've ever seen. It's undeniable. His record speaks for itself. But why all this hyperbole surrounding him? Was he really that much better than anyone we've ever seen?

Bobby Jones won 13 Majors in seven years, while essentially playing part time. He retired at 28 after winning all four in one year. He would have undoubtedly won more had he not decided he needed to retire and start earning a living.

Byron Nelson won 54 times on the PGA tour, including eleven in a row, and 18 in all in 1945. He retired the next year at the top of the game. And, before you argue that no one was playing in 1945, you might want to know that both Hogan and Snead were released early from wartime service that year. Hogan played 18 events and Snead played 26. And Byron's scoring average was 68.33. That average wasn't beaten until Tiger came along fifty odd years later. 

In terms of dramatic comebacks, Tiger has come back from well-documented injuries and personal issues. Ben Hogan came back and won Major championships after getting hit by a damned bus. They thought he'd never walk again.

Jack Nicklaus still has the most Majors. Snead still has the most victories. Byron owns the most victories in a row and the most in a season. Spieth is now the youngest to win the Masters and has equalled Tiger's scoring record at Augusta. I believe he's also the youngest to get to 10 wins on the PGA tour. These players are not chopped liver. Tiger was not better "by far" than them.

Tiger beat everyone in sight when he was in his prime. He was a phenomenal player. But the same can be said for Jones, Nelson, and Nicklaus. Tiger was so good, it initially looked like it would be inevitable that he would break every record worth breaking. He hasn't. And, barring a stunning return to competition, he won't. It won't change the fact that he was great.

This is definitely not a "hate on Tiger" exercise. Tiger was great. He was fantastic. No doubt about it. But all you sycophants, who can't stop gushing every time he hits a fairway, need to remember that there have been other truly great players, and there are some pretty damned special ones playing right now who aren't named Tiger Woods. They deserve some respect for what they have accomplished in this great game as well.