The greatest golfer ever to play the game hits his thirties today. Yes sir, the prodigy is all grown up — Tiger Woods is 30.
Better than Nicklaus? Let the debate begin. Interestingly, the Scotsman was out last night (gotta love the five hour head start) with a story detailing the difference 10 years has had on Tiger’s game. He dominated at the 1997 Masters, but with his improved swing and ability to intimidate and outplay his opponents, it is clear the current Tiger is the better model. Things get better with age, apparently, even if you had a bum knee.
The Scotsman comments on Woods at 30:
At 30, Woods is poised to pose more of a threat to posterity than he did at 20 for the simple reason that he won’t make the same rash mistakes which cost him in the early days of his career. The interesting thing about 2005 from Tiger’s perspective was how, in acquiring better course management skills, there was no dimming of the brilliance which sets him apart from all of his contemporaries.
While it may at first appear that hitting 50% of fairways is not actually better course management, Woods has come to realize that’s his best bet at bettering modern PGA Tour courses. Hit it long, in the rough and wedge it out. Worked for Vijay in 2004 and worked for Woods this year. As long as the putter remains steady, Woods will best Nicklaus majors mark and I’m betting he does it by 40. Let’s hope that at least some competitors remain in the picture to keep this from being all Tiger, all the time.
The Scotsman story is here.
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I think you’re right: Tiger will very likely top Jack’s record before he’s 40, and probably much earlier than that too. And I think that’s a shame: not because I don’t want him to, or because he doesn’t deserve to, but because of what it says about the state of his current competition; they are just not stepping up to the plate in the majors. I like watching Ernie and Vijay, and they are fine players, but if you took the 5 or 6 top players from the Nicklaus era and added up their majors, and then took the 5 or 6 top players from Tiger’s era and added up theirs, there’d be no comparison. (I’ve never done the math, but I think that just three of the them -Plamer, Trevino and Watson, say – probably own more handware than today’s top ten players in the world combined). Tiger may be the best golfer of all time, and he deserves everything he’s got, but I’m still waiting for someone to seriously, seriously challenge him in the majors.
What about the $40 million estate in Florida which he is eyeing as a birthday present to himself. Good for him…the best ever might as well live in style.
Interestingly, like many great golfers, I doubt we’ll actually ever get to truly know Tiger Woods. The doors are all closed and what we see in public, at press conferences and on the course may or may not be real.
I used to think Woods wasn’t the best. Jones has a greater legacy and Jack had better competition. Hogan was just great. But Woods is dominating, probably more than any golfer in history. I don’t see his desire waning, which should make the next ten years interesting indeed.