Monday, August 12, 2013

Tiger Woods vs. Jack Nicklaus

1. Given Tiger's disappointing PGA Championship, many are now doubting whether Tiger can beat Jack's record of 18 major victories. I don't.  Tiger at age 37 is exactly where Jack was at 37 - both had/have 14 Majors victories.  Jack went on to win 4 more majors from ages 38-46 (1978-1986) and I see no reason why Tiger can't win 5 majors in the next 9 years. After all, that's about one major every 2 years.

2. What's really disappointing about Tiger's career has been the lack of rivalries.  No one has ever challenged him. Tiger's gone into eclipse after the 2008 US open, but no one has stepped up and dominated. And in every one of Tiger's 14 major victories, he led or was tied for the lead after 54 holes.  Conversely, only once since 1998 has anyone ever come from behind in the last round and beaten Tiger (Yang Yong-eun - 2009 PGA).  While Tiger has been forced into 3 playoffs, he won all three and who were they against? Bob May, Chris Demarco, and Rocco Mediate.  No great rivalries there.

By comparison Jack was constantly challenged by great golfers.  Palmer was dominating golf in 1962 when Jack arrived and the two battled throughout the 1960s. When Palmer started to fade (due to age) Trevino picked up the mantle, beating Nicklaus in 4 majors between 1968-1974.  After being struck by Lightning in 1975, Trevino game suffered, and Watson stepped up to become Jack's rival, beating him in the memorable 1977 "Duel in the Sun", the 1982 US Open, and 1981 Masters.

3.  So Tiger never comes from behind and battles anyone and no one comes from behind and battles him. Too bad, because great rivalries are what makes the sport so interesting.

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