Bye Bye Bye: Why Tiger Will Never Catch Jack

BY: EastCoastBias

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I have to point out that Tiger Woods can do no wrong in my mind. To me, he is/was the most dominant athlete of the modern era, and no Federer fans, it’s not even close. However, after yesterday’s withdrawal from The Players Championship, I am sad to say that Tiger’s stranglehold over the game of golf is officially over, and he will finish his career without eclipsing Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships, something he was destined to do since his birth.

Tiger will not pass Jack due to a combination of forces, some of which he will have no control over. First and foremost, the PGA tour is astonishingly deeper now than it was from 1997 to 2008- Tiger’s prime. There are a number of young players such as Rory McIlroy, Anthony Kim, Dustin Johnson, and Rickie Fowler, who hit the ball long and straight. Although none of these players have won a major championship thus far, they have come agonizingly close (McIlroy: 2011 Masters, Johsnon: 2010 PGA Championship), and I expect all of them to have a breakthrough sooner rather than later. More important is the fact that none of these young bloods have had a traumatizing experience with Tiger on the course. The importance of this cannot be emphasized enough- as many a golfer has never recovered from a Sunday letdown when paired in the same group as Tiger.

Additionally, the balance of power in the PGA has shifted considerably from America to Europe. Europeans won two of the four majors in 2010, and six of the top ten players in the world are European. Players such as Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell, Paul Casey, and Ian Poulter are all either in their late 20’s or early 30’s, which is when a golfer typically reaches their prime. Although out of the five players mentioned above, only McDowell has won a major championship, Westwood and Donald have consistently been in contention over the past two years, and I believe they will be rewarded for that consistency in one of the year’s three remaining majors. Europe was dominant in its Ryder Cup victory over America this past September, and with a good mix of players both young and experienced, expect Europe to control the tour for the next 5 years.

Next, it is surprising that more people do not realize this because of Tiger’s great work ethic, but Tiger is quickly getting up there in age and it is starting to show. Tiger is 35 going on 36, and his body is not in the prime condition that it used to be. Tiger had one of the most powerful swings in recent memory and that has finally caught up to him. His ongoing knee and ankle problems prevent Tiger from generating torque from his lower body, which enables him to hit the ball far. If Tiger cannot consistently hit the ball far over the next 5-6 years, there is no way he will pass Jack’s record. The major championship venues are getting longer and longer, and with more and more players being able to boom it now, there is going to be a premium on hitting it long and straight. Tiger’s competitive advantage before was that he would outdrive everyone by 30-50 yards and have a short iron coming in to the green. It seems that is no longer the case.

Finally, from a mental perspective, Tiger no longer seems to be entirely there. Before his scandal, Tiger was always the most focused player in any given tournament, and nothing could distract him. He had a one track mind: WIN. If he had a bogey, he did not let it affect him like it affects other players. Now, it seems as if TW has a storm brewing in his head. As Bubba Watson said last week in an interview, Tiger is not playing golf anymore- he is too focused on getting his swing right, as opposed to swinging the club freely. Tiger does not seem to be fully confident in his new swing, which is why we always see him going through various movements during a round. I am not entirely positive that Tiger will ever be confident in his new swing. His body is not letting him play in more competitive tournaments, which is the best environment to test out a new swing and see how it holds up under pressure.

From a competitive standpoint, Tiger has 5-6 years of golf left in him. His body is deteriorating quickly, which is hindering his ability to play in more tournaments and fine tune his swing. He no longer has a mental edge over the rest of the field, as the younger players have no scar tissue from playing with him and the experienced players see him in a vulnerable position. He physically cannot outperform the rest of the field, as players are hitting it longer and straighter. Tiger needs to win 5 majors to pass Jack’s record- one major in each of the next 5 years. After what I have witnessed so far this year, I do not see Tiger putting together 4 good rounds over the course of a tournament. His body won’t let him; his mind won’t let him; and other players won’t let him.

Eldrick, please prove me wrong.

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8 Responses to Bye Bye Bye: Why Tiger Will Never Catch Jack

  1. Marmaduke says:

    Brilliant! I agree 100%
    NO ONE ont he tour is intimidated by Tiger anymore. The roas has become a whimper!

  2. Pete Town says:

    You say “and no Federer fans, it’s not even close. ” Then you don’t back it up. Sorry, but you are wrong, and no, I’m not going to take the time to back it up. What’s fair for the goose is fair for the gander.

  3. EastCoastBias says:

    I’m sorry but the purpose of this article was not to discuss who was more dominant, but since you insist:

    1) Tiger Woods has won all 4 major championships at least 3 times. Roger Federer could not win the French Open for the longest time. You know why: because one player always beat him, Nadal. Federer won the French Open in 2009 thanks to Soderling defeating Nadal in the fourth round. Tiger never had that. Any golfer that came his way- he took down whether it be Singh, Els, Mickelson, Garcia, or anyone else.

    2) Tiger, with the exception of Roger Federer, has held all 4 majors at once- the Tiger Slam. Something Federer has not done- you know why because he could not beat Nadal.

    3) Finally, Tiger Woods was so dominant that golf courses began to ‘Tiger Proof’ certain holes. Tournament holders felt that if they did not do this then it would not be a fair fight. Take for example, the Masters tournament. After Tiger won back to back Masters in 01 and 02, tournament officials made holes longer, added rough, and planted trees.

    4) Tiger Woods holds the record for shots under par in both the Masters and US Open. Additionally, he also won by the widest margin of victory in both tournaments. He broke the Masters record when he was just 21 and in his first professional major.

    Think on that.

  4. Astick says:

    On your Tiger comments: sad but true.

    While we are on the subject…couldn’t we argue that Federer (’03- has faced stiffer competition (most notably Nadal) than Tiger Woods (1997-2008)? Wouldn’t this make it at least close?

    What golfer from history is the equivalent of Nadal in tennis? Nadal is already the best clay court player in history (or will be once he retires, for Borg enthusiasts) and may one day be considered in the top 10 best ever.

    Could Tiger have been as dominant against a Nadal?

  5. Paul Oregon says:

    Golf is not a sport, therefore, to consider him an athlete is like considering you a writer.

    I also just want to say that no one reads anyone’s comments so it is kind of silly to spend more than a minute writing these things.

  6. You guys are slightly crazy!!!!!
    How the heck can you compare golf to tennis?????
    The only thing that can affect you playing someone at golf is whether you head can get past how good the guy your playing WITH, and do not forget your not playing him, your playing the course.
    In tennis some other (athlete) remember that word, is hitting balls at you at high speed away from you they affect your performance.
    Golf is like darts you only have the board to beat.
    So bored with the golf channel cannot we see some golf please without all this constant Woods BS.

  7. EastCoastBias says:

    You are right the competition in golf is not as direct as it is in tennis. However, you are playing both the course and a field, which typically consists of a 100 or so players.

    I would argue that in golf you cannot really control what the other 100 players are going to be doing. In any given tournament, any player can put 4 good rounds together, and you cannot prevent it. In tennis, a good player will always be able to dictate the tempo and pace of the match. You always have some sort of control of what your opponent is doing. Just my thoughts.

  8. Is the field is any stronger now than it was in 1997? At his peak Tiger was against Duval, Els, Mickelson, Singh, Mongomerie, Goosen and Furyk. Nicklaus’ career was against Palmer, Player, Casper, Trevino, Miller and Watson; hardly a weaker group. Whilst agreeing that Tiger did have exceptional length from the tee, as did Nicklaus, it was his short game skills and putting which took him across the line. At his peak did he ever miss a putt he had to make ? Clearly, he is hampered with injury problems which impact upon his work and practice regimes, however, not holing the putts is more the cause of his recent decline.

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