Opinion Corner: Tiger’s backIt’s about safe to say Tiger Woods’ fall from grace — or should I say from the broken glass of a Cadillac Escalade — is about over and done with. His victory Sunday at The Memorial notched the 14-time major champion not only his second PGA Tour win already this season, but it launched him into second on the all-time Tour wins list alongside the legendary Jack Nicklaus.
It’s about safe to say Tiger Woods’ fall from grace — or should I say from the broken glass of a Cadillac Escalade — is about over and done with.
His victory Sunday at The Memorial notched the 14-time major champion not only his second PGA Tour win already this season, but it launched him into second on the all-time Tour wins list alongside the legendary Jack Nicklaus.
It was really only a matter of time before Woods hit his stride again. There was no way a golfer with that much talent in the relative prime of his career was going to completely fade into the sunset.
Say what you want about Woods as a person — scandalous and known to be outright arrogant — but the fact of the matter is that he’s going to finish his playing career as the greatest golfer of all time.
I’m not just saying that as a fan. Let’s look at some facts:
r Woods is 36-years-old and the victory at The Memorial notched him his 73rd career win. Nicklaus won his 73rd and final tournament at the age of 46. All-time leader Sam Snead didn’t win his 73rd tournament until age 43.
r Woods is now just nine wins shy of tying Snead’s all-time mark of 82. Pro golfers often continue winning PGA Tour tournaments into their early-to mid-40s. That gives Tiger about eight to 10 years to surpass Snead, needing to average about one tournament win per year to do so.
r Woods’ 14 major victories are tied for second all-time behind Nicklaus’ mark of 18 titles. If Woods remains somewhat healthy and plays at a competitive level for the next eight years, he would need to win just one major every other year to match the Golden Bear. Not even taking into account a ridiculous stretch of seven majors over three-and-a-half years from 1999 to 2002, Woods has averaged nearly one major victory per season since 2005.
r It’s not as though during Woods’ 30-month absence from winning a title (he went from November 2009 to this past March without notching a first-place finish) that a number of other golfers started dominating the competition. In fact, Tiger led the Tour in victories in all but one year from 1999 until 2009, averaging 6.3 wins per year. In 2010, Jim Furyk led the Tour with 3 victories. In 2011, seven different players led the Tour with 2 victories each.
Admittedly, I’m too young to be able to fully appreciate what Nicklaus accomplished — much less Snead. And trust me, I won’t act as though I’ll ever be able to fully appreciate their greatness.
But what I do know is that I can sit back now and appreciate the level of greatness that Tiger has achieved since winning The Masters in 1997. And I’m pretty sure he’s got a few more years of greatness left in him that we’ll all be able to sit back and enjoy.
Nobody ever said you had to be considered one of the greatest guys in the world to be considered one of the greatest athletes in the world.
Let’s put it this way, I wouldn’t raise my son to act like Tiger Woods. But when we go out on the golf course, you can bet I would raise him to try and hit the golf ball like Tiger Woods.
Willhide is a news writer with The Sun