A Brief History
On April 13, 1997, 21-year-old Tiger Woods won his first Masters golf tournament, becoming the youngest player ever to do so. Not only that, but he won by a crushing 12 strokes and seemed already well on his way to becoming the greatest golfer of all time. Newsflash: On April 12, 2015, Jordan Spieth was crowned the second youngest Masters winner of all time after Tiger Woods!
If one regards victories in the 4 major gold tournaments (Masters, British Open, U.S. Open and PGA Championship) as the measuring stick, however, then it is Jack Nicklaus, with his 18 major wins, who sits atop the heap of excellent golf players, with Woods trailing by 4 wins.
Yet, despite having won all 4 “majors” and being the only golfer to have led the PGA in scoring 8 times and in money 10 times and despite being ranked second of all time with 79 PGA tournament wins (Sam Snead has 82), Woods won his last major in 2008, giving him an unprecedented 7-year drought in major tournament wins.
It seems as if Woods’ fall from public grace in 2009 due to marital problems has taken the edge off his professional game, but he still managed to play well enough to win the PGA Player of the Year honor as recently as 2013 and to lead the PGA in money won that same year.
It is more likely that Woods’ current golfing problems are the result of a back injury for which he underwent surgery in April of 2014. The operation apparently did not have the desired effect as he has since struggled with his golf game like never before in his career.
So, on February 11, 2015, Woods shocked the golf world by announcing that he would be taking time off from professional golf to concentrate on getting back into competitive form. It is unknown how long that might be, but at age 39, he still has some chance of catching up to Nicklaus’ 18 major wins. That he would do so once seemed to be a sure bet, but now it’s a matter of hope as injuries and wear and tear on the body are making his game unpredictable.
At the time of this article’s publication, Woods returned to professional golf at the 2015 Masters Tournament to great hype.
Question for students (and subscribers): Whatever the long run outcome, Tiger Woods still has enough records to make him a primary contender for the title of greatest golfer of all time, even if the one accomplishment many people consider of prime importance eludes him at this moment: Will he ever match or pass Nicklaus? Tell us what you think in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Millard, Chris. The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game. Harper Design, 2014.