By In Stuff

Hot Button: Tiger and Jack

So we move on to Question 2 of the Hot Button Survey that so many of you took. Thank you again for taking the survey, I will try to get the other results out in a bit more of a timely manner.

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Question 2. Will Tiger Woods break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships?

Definitely yes. Woods is still the best player on earth, and he has five more majors in him: 1%

Yes. I think it will be close, but Woods still has enough time to break the record: 18%

Neutral: 17%

No. He’s still great, but five majors is too steep a hill for him to climb: 52.5%

Definitely no. Tiger’s about to be 38, he might not even win more major championship: 11.5%.

Broken down:

Yes: 19%
Neutral: 17%
No: 64


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I would have to say — I don’t think this is really much of a hot button topic anymore.

Tiger Woods has 14 major championships and remains four away from tying Jack Nicklaus’ major championship record, five from breaking it. If you had asked this question in 2008, just after Woods’ won his 14th major in an extraordinary U.S. Open victory, I suspect almost everybody would have called him a lock to break Nicklaus’ record. He was 32 years old, seemingly at the height of his powers, utterly unbeatable when he played well. He seemed a lock — most people probably would have picked him to break the record before he turned 35. I would bet more than 80% of people would have predicted him a sure thing to break the record.

If you had asked the question two or three years ago, I still think the majority of people would have predicted for him to break the record. Certainly the majority of people I heard from thought he would break the record — I think the first time I predicted that he would not break the record was 2010. I would say at least two-thirds of the people I heard from disagreed, and many of the people who agreed seemed to be Tiger Woods loathers in the first place. I’m not a Tiger Woods loather. I’m a huge fan of Tiger Woods. He has provided many hours of enjoyment for me. I just think time is the most underestimated opponent in sports. We should see it coming but we rarely do. Tiger Woods got older. Even in golf, that matters.

More than fIve years later, Woods still has 14 major championships and we’re now at the point where almost nobody thinks Tiger Woods is a lock to break the record. Some think he still has a shot. Most think he probably won’t break it — he is simply running out of time. I do wonder: If Woods wins the Masters or U.S. Open next year, would these numbers will dramatically shift back to what they were in 2010. I’ll bet they would.

Tiger Woods was back in the news this week because my co-worker, Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee, wrote a column where he gave out grades to players on Tour. In the Tiger Woods section, Chamblee referenced his memory of a fourth-grade teacher who had caught him cheating. The teacher had first written “100” on Chamblee’s test, but then crossed it out and wrote, “F.” The point was made pretty clear when Chamblee then gave Woods a 100, crossed it out, and gave him an F. Hard to miss the point there. Woods had several high-profile incidents in 2013 where he was penalized or called out for shaky and questionable drops.

Of course, the whole thing blew up, as these things do. Woods’ agent threatened to sue, which seemed ridiculous. Everybody weighed in. Chamblee held firm at first and then took to Twitter to ofter an apology, the last Tweet probably summing up: “My intention was to note Tiger’s rules infractions this year, but comparing that to cheating in grade school went too far.”

What struck me, though, is how much the story of Tiger Woods has changed. Chamblee may have gone too far, but people around the Tour do talk about what seemed a pattern of Woods being casual with the rules; golf, more than any other sport, worships the rules. Woods’ story for so long was about his genius for the game, his unmatched work ethic, his extraordinary talent for making great shots under pressure and the fear he inspired in his opponents. Now, it is about swing changes and a five-year major drought and perpetual injuries and, sure, drops that didn’t seem entirely kosher. This is what I mean about people underestimating the power of time. It comes at you for a hundred different directions. And time fights dirty.

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14 Responses to Hot Button: Tiger and Jack

  1. cohnjusack says:

    Ack! I clicked on this thinking it was going to be related to Jack Morris and the Tigers. This is just flagrant false advertising!

  2. Bill White says:

    Tiger has serious problems with his own game, but there are other factors which argue against him breaking Jack’s record. He has injury problems, and unfortunately for him there are lots of golfers now who can make the same shots he once claimed as his own. Add that to his personal problems and it is now clear: the other golfers don’t fear him as they once did, and that was his biggest advantage of all.

  3. mncharm says:

    I disagree: the biggest advantage Tiger used to hold is the distance between his talent level and the next best golfer. While I still think he is the best golfer in the world, there is little question that gap has shrunk (mainly due to injuries, in my opinion).

  4. DjangoZ says:

    Tiger suing a writer for giving him an “F”? Just one more reason to root against him.

  5. BobDD says:

    While I do not expect him to break that record, the thing is that it would not be any great shock if his game just all came together and he won half a dozen majors in four years. Unlikely? Of course. But honestly – you can imagine it happening, right?

  6. Dcott says:

    Tiger’s putting is way off from what it was. He simply was the greatest putter ever. Now he is average, and I’ve seen some just horrible putting from him this year.

  7. Question Mark says:

    The four majors in 2014 will be held at Augusta (four Tiger wins), Pinehurst (Tiger has finished 2nd and 3rd at two US Opens at the course), Royal Liverpool (Tiger won the Open there in 2006) and Valhalla (Tiger won the PGA there in 2000).

    In short, it’s almost the most favourable possible slate for Woods. If he doesn’t claim at least one major next year, then we can forever write off his chances of beating Jack’s record.

  8. aweb says:

    I remember a younger Woods playing a desert course and ending up behind a boulder; a few (5-10) people from the gallery were recruited to simply move the “loose impediment” with the acquiescence of the rules official, who said it was fine because the boulder was not imbedded in the ground (which was true). However, I think it’s fair to say that the actual rules were written with the golfer themselves having to move loose impediments, without help from a crowd. No one simply playing that course could have done that, and a lot of his competitors, lacking a gallery, wouldn’t have been able to either.

    A perfect example of the “technically correct” rulings Woods has gotten by with at times. Sames thing applies to the controversies this year. On the water hazrd crossing drop, his playing partner agreed to a drop that, on replay, seemed questionable, so it was OK. Traditional golf rules spirit is to take a less favourable drop when there is doubt (playing a casual round, drop it wherever you want to). If that had been the Ryder Cup, I don’t see his opponent agreeing to it. I’m sure similar drops happen all the time, even on tour, but I can see Woods getting grief about these things from the establishment and golf media. No one represents golf more than Woods, so if he appears to be winking at the rules, the fear is that everyone will.

    Age/injury is the main issue I see for Woods. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t win another major or two, but 1/year is asking too much, and can he still be #1 in 5 years? We’ll see, I guess.

    • There’s no such thing as “technically correct” in golf. There’s just “correct” and “incorrect”. Don’t put shades of grey where there are none.

      If it’s within the rules, and this is confirmed by a rules official, it’s correct. Golf’s pretty unique that way.

  9. I honestly dislike the golf rules police. Every time the “rules” come up, it feels like it’s a group of psycho control freaks arguing about pretty much nothing. In a couple of cases, Tiger got favorable rulings, so what’s he supposed to do? Say no? In one case, I honestly could not see the argument. It looked like, at most, he was a foot from where he should have been & offered no advantage that I could see. I think golf people, the pyscho ones that write for and others need to realize this whole discussion is a turnoff for a lot of us. If anyone called those rules on me, and a couple have tried, during a casual round of golf I’ll never play with them again. It’s just annoying.

  10. aweb says:

    Couldn’t disagree more. I think that getting a crowd of people to move a several ton boulder as a loose impendiment, and having it agreed upon, certainly qualifies as a “technically correct” moment. The whole situation at the Masters this year, with the penalty stroke, the non-disqualification, etc. That was also technically correct. Note that technically correct is a subset of correct. I acknowledge this.

    But if a rules official had ruled the other way – i.e., “no, you can’t recruit gallery members to move a giant rock out of your way”, or “sorry, that was an improper drop, so you are DQ’ed”, those rulings would have also been technically correct. Either way the rulings go sometimes, you can argue they are being consistent with the rules, either in spirit, tradition, or in legal language parsing. I think golf has plenty of rules like this.

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