Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Nicklaus vs Woods

Tiger Woods announced today that he is finished for the 2008 season in order in have surgery on his knee.
Give Woods all the credit for winning the most difficult tournament after two months of not playing the game and then toughing it out with a knee that ended his year for 91 holes.
He deserves it.

However,this brings up the golf topic that comes up the most around the world headquarters-
Is Tiger Woods better than the "Golden Bear" Jack Nicklaus?
Looking at the numbers,Nicklaus has more career wins (official PGA tour wins) 73-65,but realistically that is just a matter of time before Woods eclipses that mark.
Nicklaus leads in Major titles as well (Masters,U.S.Open,British Open and PGA) 18-14,but that too looks likely to fall,but not inevitable.
One never knows in a precision sport such as golf.
One small hitch could develop in Woods game after extensive knee surgery and he may not be the same player.
Unlikely,but possible.

So,we can project that Woods will end his career with more total wins and likely more Major titles as well than Nicklaus,but was he better?
Well,the competition that Nicklaus faced was certainly tougher without a doubt.
Of the members of the top ten list of tournament wins-Nicklaus played against 8 of the 11 (Tom Watson and Gene Sarazen tied for 10th),while Woods played against one (Watson),unless you count the largely ceremonial appearances by Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer as playing against.
To be fair,Sam Snead and Ben Hogan were past their prime during their years against the Bear,but both still were winning the occasional tournament,especially Snead.
One must go down to 13th to find a Woods contemporary-the enigmatic Phil Mickelson.
I consider myself a Phil fan,but every time that it seems that he has put it all together as a player to truly challenge Woods,something goes askew and the challenge never seems to arrive.
Lets go outside the top ten and add players that had a Hall of Fame type career that for various reasons are not in the top ten wins list.
Nicklaus faced off against Lee Trevino (career largely ended after being hit by lightning),Gary Player (Split time between the US and European tours),Johnny Miller ( a 4 year run that ranked him at the top),Raymond Floyd,Hale Irwin,Ben Crenshaw,the list continues.......
Woods has Mickelson,Vijay Singh(the master of the small tourney),Ernie Els and David Duval,who look to have a career similar to Johnny Miller and that is pretty much it.
To me,the final piece to the competition puzzle is this-Nicklaus had 19 seconds in Majors to add to his wins,Woods has just 5.
Woods is regarded as a tremendous finisher when he holds the lead and deservedly so,but who is he holding off?
Usually it is the Rocco Mediates of the world not his tougher competitors,they usually are in mid-pack having conceded another tournament.

We will never know who truly was the better player as Golf does not apply to stats as well as other sports.
Players do not play in every tournament and a great season is a handful of wins,but in the end,if you were able to put a prime Jack Nicklaus against a prime Tiger Woods for a 20 tournament "Season" head to head-I'll take the "Golden Bear" to win more than he loses for one final reason.
Woods simply loses his emotions too much to not have that backfire against great opposition.
He gets away with it now,he would not against Nicklaus.

Bullpen Notes

Downloaded the new Firefox 3 browser and like it a lot!
My only problem is this-the saved items in dropdown menus are no longer in alphabetical order.
That I wish I could change.

Part one of a two part interview with Jay Larkin is a very interesting read on MaxBoxing.
Larkin formerly was the person in charge of making the fights on Showtime and Larkin offers his thoughts on how Boxing has downslid from its days as a stalwart of Network TV.
You are preaching to the choir,Jay-I have been saying this for years!
Part two of the interview talks about how things could change and its possible network return.

Photo Credit
Nicklaus:David Cannon-AllsportsUSA

1 comment:

Ryan Heimberger said...

Regarding the new "Greatest Golfer" poll, I am very disappointed that Shooter McGavin was not included.