August 06, 2006

At 30, Tiger becomes youngest to 50 PGA wins: Unreal accomplishment. What makes it even more amazing is the fact he did it in 3 less years than Jack did it. It is mind boggling to think that Tiger has 50 wins in 196 tournaments (25.5%).

posted by dbt302 to golf at 06:00 PM - 70 comments

ESPN's article says he'd played 210 tournaments, not 196. Any idea how many tournments it took Jack?

posted by tieguy at 06:56 PM on August 06, 2006

Tiger= Best EVER?

posted by redsoxrgay at 06:59 PM on August 06, 2006

Best EVER? Right now, I'd have to say 'YES'. I don't think anyone else comes close. Phil finally got a few majors, but still has a long way to go. Vijay seems to be slipping.

posted by t money at 07:42 PM on August 06, 2006

I wonder if Jack v. Tiger isn't what Simmons aptly said is an Everest situation- you can't be better, just share the peak.

posted by tieguy at 07:58 PM on August 06, 2006

On CBS today, they said 196.

posted by dbt302 at 08:10 PM on August 06, 2006

Best EVER? Right now, I'd have to say 'YES'. That's not best ever, then. That's best now. Certainly, he's the best in the business now, by a long length. The field may be getting better behind him, but when he's on, he's untouchable. Best of all time? To paraphrase Bill Simmons:

"...great athletes reach a level where they can't be passed, they can only be joined. It's like climbing Mount Everest -- you can't climb Mount Everest higher than someone else; the important thing is that you climbed it at all. Well, [golfers like Jack Nicklaus & Bobby Jones] are sitting up there already. [Tiger Woods] is getting damn close."

posted by chicobangs at 08:16 PM on August 06, 2006

chico: I nearly posted the same Simmons quote. Never got to watch Jack in his prime, but have to imagine this is the case.

posted by tieguy at 08:30 PM on August 06, 2006

Ho-hum,Tiger wins another birdiefest on an overmatched course.Yet,the 50 win accomplishment is impressive,and Tiger is a great player. But I'll predict right now that the PGA at Medinah won't be No. 51. I don't really want to stir up the "Tiger can't win on truly tough courses" thing again,but two weeks from now,I'll be saying I told you so.

posted by judgedread at 09:06 PM on August 06, 2006

Judgedread, does this this look familiar? The final results of the1999 PGA Championship, played at Medinah Country Club, on Medinah's #3 course? Didn't think so....

posted by mjkredliner at 09:25 PM on August 06, 2006

Ah. FWIW, they've updated the link to clarify some details- he has had 196 starts as a pro, 210 overall. Nicklaus took 280 starts overall and 262 as a pro to win 50. In my humble opinion this comparison is much more impressive than the age differential.

posted by tieguy at 09:51 PM on August 06, 2006

You have to give Tiger his due, hard to argue against him being the best. 25% win rate is awesome. In defense of Nicklaus, could it be that him competition was stronger? Tiger has Phil and Vijay, but Jack had Trevino, Player, Watson, Palmer, Kite, Norman and others. I just don't think the field measures up now. Both ruled the sport during their time.

posted by dviking at 10:02 PM on August 06, 2006

Tiger has Phil and Vijay And Retief Goosen (2 majors and 5 top 5 finishes in a major) and Ernie Els (3 majors and 16 top 5 finishes in a major) and Jim Furyk (1 major and 8 top 5 finishes in a major). As well, it's still relatively early in Tiger's career, so his competition might still be building an impressive resume (including players we might not have seen yet). As well, the PGA has a MUCH larger pool of players to draw from in 2006 than they did in 1986 or 1966.

posted by grum@work at 10:16 PM on August 06, 2006

For nearly the entire first half of Jack's career, he had to battle Arnold Palmer and more brutally Arnie's Army. Tiger had to battle David Duval, a guy who has essentially fallen off a cliff. There is no answer to this debate for atleast another 10 years. As for comparing the 1999 PGA to the 2006 PGA...Medinah has changed 17 of the holes since then and will play as the longest in major championship history. Will be interesting.

posted by ryemonster at 10:42 PM on August 06, 2006

ryemonster, as grum and dviking pointed out, Dave Duval doesn't even make the top ten of Tiger's main competition over the last decade. Hell, Mike Weir, Tom Lehman, Davis Love, Thomas Bjorn & Chris Demarco have had more success against Tiger than Duval ever did, except for that one great year Duval had. As far as quality of opponents, especially considering it was two vastly different eras, I'd call it a wash. You can't really go there. Also, tieguy, I totally cut you on the Simmons quote. Sorry.

posted by chicobangs at 11:09 PM on August 06, 2006

Tiger Woods is a robot.

posted by jakeamo15 at 11:49 PM on August 06, 2006

For nearly the entire first half of Jack's career, he had to batttle Arnold Palmer. Arnie put Tiger like years together in 1960, 61,63, and 64 with 8,6,8,and 7 wins respectively, including 6 of his 7 majors. (The other being the 1958 Masters) Nicklaus did not turn pro until 1962, and won 3 majors before the end of 1964, so, that is not true. JJ covered all this pretty well after Tigers British Open win two week ago. The PGA Tour has much more international influence now than then, and I sincerely believe, having been a fan, (and a golfer) most of my life, that the competition is much stiffer these days. And, numbers do not lie, a 25% win percentage over a 10 year period is phenomonal and unprecedented. Medinah may play longer, if it does, I suggest that that only plays into Tiger's strong suits as well. My point was that he HAS won at the course before, judgedreads assertion that he cannot win on tough courses is ludicrous at best.

posted by mjkredliner at 01:04 AM on August 07, 2006

I'm sorry, the years I should have quoted for Arnie were 1960,1961,1962, & 1963. Making the case stronger, if anything.

posted by mjkredliner at 01:29 AM on August 07, 2006

Tiger is not yet the best ever - if he quit tomorrow, his career record wouldn't stand up to Nicklaus'. But he's not going to quit tomorrow (or any time soon), and he will become the best ever, without question. I don't think the Everest analogy stands up as an argument - if Tiger wins 25 majors and breaks every record in the book, you can't say that he has only done as well as Nicklaus or anyone else - he can surpass him, and I think he will. As for betting against him at Medinah - never bet against a streak. As with the changes at Augusta this year, we won't know for sure until we see them play the course, but I'm going to guess (without researching it) that the changes at Medinah (combined with the changes in technology) will make it play almost exactly the way it did in 1999. Mind you, I'm just being lazy and making assumptions there - maybe they've completely overhauled the place. I think Tiger will win it, but if he doesn't, I predict an outsider or a has-been. Previous majors at Medinah have been won by Hale Irwin (when he was well past his best - beat the mighty Mike Donald in a playoff), Lou Graham (journeyman tastic), and Gary Middlecroft (an army dentist, who won the first US open to be covered by network TV). Best possible result might be an Ernie Els victory - setting him up to shoot at winning the career grand slam next April. That said, if he has to think about that for eight months, he might go mad. Saw a nice quote from Nicklaus recently: "The majors were the easiest tournaments to win, because 90 per cent of the guys playing in them didn't believe they could win them."

posted by JJ at 06:23 AM on August 07, 2006

Tiger has VERY high standards: Tiger was asked by a reporter in the fall of 2000 (the year he won the first three legs of the "Tiger Slam") if he thought it was his greatest year to date.... Tiger replied "No, when I was 11 years old, I made straight A's, won 32 junior tournaments, had two recesses a day, and the cutest girlfriend in the whole school. Everything has been downhill since then."

posted by mjkredliner at 08:42 AM on August 07, 2006

Okay, everyone is talking about Nicklaus and Tiger but what about Snead and Tiger. Who thinks Tiger will break Sneads career win total and if so how badly? I think he can get to 120 and easily passing Snead.

posted by kidrayter2005 at 09:56 AM on August 07, 2006

At an average of 5 wins per year (4 already this year), Tiger should break the record at age 37. Tiger has 20, 2nd place finishes and 17, 3rd place finishes in his career. A shot here or there and he'd be 60+ wins already. Just imagine if he played even more tournaments than he does. Unless his arms fall off, he will certainly break the mark of Sam Snead.

posted by dbt302 at 10:45 AM on August 07, 2006

dbt302, over the years I have learned that golf is maybe the most fickle of sports, there are many cases of players who seemingly lost their nearly all of their ability, or their desire, to play "Championship golf" (especially after the age of 35) for one reason or another, the most recent being David Duval, and I could mention Nick Faldo, Ian Baker-Finch, Seve Ballesteros, Jerry Pate, Bill Rogers, on and on I could go. I only say this because, nothing in golf, or life, is a given. But, if he does continue to play, and win, at his current pace, then Slammin' Sammy's record is indeed in jeopardy. And if he doesn't, we can still all tell our grandkids just how amazing the first 10 years of his career were.

posted by mjkredliner at 11:28 AM on August 07, 2006

dbt if there were a shot here in there Nicklaus would've had more majors because of his 19 2nd's in a major and 9 3rds. Even after 1964, Arnold Palmer was still called the king. He was the what golf was and Jack was the man trying to dethrown him. Ask Jack once said "I was a pudgy crew cut kid playing golf and was hated" By the way, Arnold Palmer is called "The King"

posted by ryemonster at 01:04 PM on August 07, 2006

So is Elvis. Not too belittle either's accomplishments, but they are both called that more affectionately than literally.

posted by mjkredliner at 01:34 PM on August 07, 2006

Tiger Woods is a robot! and i concur with dugde dread; robots cannot win on tougher courses!

posted by jakeamo15 at 02:08 PM on August 07, 2006

i was able to see jack in the last years of his prime and i truly have to say, there was no one better than he. when he went out to play, he played with more focus, self-discipline, and of course skill than anyone out there. most importantly, he played with and taught me and others the greatest lesson and that was course management. nobody was better at that. he was not the athlete and did not possess the more natural skills of the great tiger. but overall, his respect for the game and determination is matched by no other.

posted by jakeamo15 at 02:23 PM on August 07, 2006

It's never been a secret that Tiger has modeled his mindset and attitude as a golfer after Nicklaus'.

posted by chicobangs at 02:31 PM on August 07, 2006

I think that Tiger is not even the best overall player of his time. That's Phil. I think that he's the best at majors in his time. Best ever is Jack, hands down, majors, overall. The difference between Tiger and Jack is that Jack was also the best overall player in his time and at majors. Tiger and Jack have one thing Vijay (and Ernie, also) lack: not choking, not failing under pressure. Sergio Garcia, who is probably tomorrow's Tiger, also has the choking problem that has denied Phil many venerable titles and nicknames.

posted by Joe88 at 02:41 PM on August 07, 2006

/looks for eye-rolling smiley face on this forum

posted by yerfatma at 03:12 PM on August 07, 2006

To talk about phil and Sergio at the same level as Tiger is a insult to any one with have a brain.I guess judgedread the British open was a easy course. Golfers are better now then 20 years ago Tiger plays better competition Jacks era was not this strong. He is the greatest of all time.

posted by SharpShooter at 03:23 PM on August 07, 2006

I agree with you ryemonster but you have the luxury of using Jack's stats for his entire career. Tiger has only been playing around 10 years. Maybe when Tiger is through, his numbers will be equal to Jack's or better. Phil? The best overall player now? I'd love to know what you're basing that on.

posted by dbt302 at 03:23 PM on August 07, 2006

I'd love to know what he's freebasing.

posted by chicobangs at 03:35 PM on August 07, 2006

I'd love to know what he's freebasing Awesome!

posted by willthrill72 at 04:01 PM on August 07, 2006

This reminds me a lot of the recent "Who's the best running back ever?" and "Who were the most influential NBA players ever?" threads. The truth is, there's no way to know for sure. There are too many variables (level of competition, quality of facilities and equipment, quality of medical care, changing understanding of training and nutrition regimens, etc.) to ever develop a formula to boil it all down for an accurate comparison. Still, it's a fun discussion, as long as we don't take it too seriously.

posted by ctal1999 at 04:09 PM on August 07, 2006

Personally, Bobby Jones is the greatest PLAYER of all time. This is a guy that didn't even play golf for his Career. He was a lawyer not a golfer, a lawyer. He won I think 12 majors by the age of 28 I believe and then he gave up golf to keep his profession. If Bobby Jones played golf for a living and there were the emphasis put on majors today on those back then, he would have no doubt have set a bar like Cy Young did in baseball. One that will never be even equalled.

posted by ryemonster at 04:09 PM on August 07, 2006

Bobby Jones is the Babe Ruth of golf: the sport's first rock star, whose style and attitude has become the standard against which everyone who has played the sport since has been and will be judged. The Everest comparison may still be debatable with Tiger vs. Nicklaus, but however you describe the Great Golf Mountain, Bobby Jones has reached its summit. Tiger may one day join him (as, I would argue, Jack has), but he can't go higher.

posted by chicobangs at 04:25 PM on August 07, 2006

I know everybody hates Phil. However, you have to accept that Jack is the greatest EVER.

posted by Joe88 at 04:44 PM on August 07, 2006

Tiger will probably win somewhere around 70 titles and he might eclipse Jack Nicklaus as the leader of Major wins. However, I think Tiger Woods is past his prime.

posted by Clevelander32 at 05:07 PM on August 07, 2006

True, Robert Jones played strictly as an amateur in a fledgeling era of American golf, his 5 wins in the U.S Amateur and 1 in the British Amateur (And 7 professional major wins for a total of 13, in 20 attempts) were considered majors in those days, mainly because he had not founded The Augusta National (and The Masters) yet, and because he was not a professional, he was not allowed to play in the PGA Championship. But one reason he quit was because he found that the expectations placed on him by others to win was so great, and the stress so much, that he would often lose as much as 15 pounds during a tournament. As such, I find it difficult to speculate what "may" have happened had he turned professional and played golf for a living... So, the ongoing debate is that if Jones' U.S. Amateurs and British amateur are counted, then, by the same measuring stick, Tiger has 14 majors and Jack has 20. Myself, I don't think they should count, they do not count them in tennis, and they are not played against the best players possible. Bobby rarely talked about his golf exploits, or his service in WWII, and later in life, faced an insidious disease with grace and courage. I think his legacy is his sense of fair play, his character, and his design of Augusta National.

posted by mjkredliner at 05:51 PM on August 07, 2006

Dbt, there is no way Tiger will average 5 wins a year until he's 37. No way. He will probably average slightly under 4 wins/year. Too much can happen in 7 years. Injuries, babies, new swing coach, who knows. The big question is how many majors will he average a year. I would guess 1/year.

posted by bluesdog at 10:43 PM on August 07, 2006

I think Tiger Woods is past his prime. What are you talking about. The man is 30 years old! Snead didn't reach 50 wins until he was 37 and change and now holds the record for wins. He beat Jack, who is easily one of if not the best, by 3 years! Past his prime?! Hardly.

posted by kidrayter2005 at 11:07 PM on August 07, 2006

"I'm Brian! And so's my wife!"

posted by JJ at 04:28 AM on August 08, 2006

I know everybody hates Phil. However, you have to accept that Jack is the greatest EVER. "[E]verybody hates Phil" is begging the question. I don't care about Man Tits one way or the other. As for telling us what we have to accept, kind of defeats the purpose of the site.

posted by yerfatma at 06:03 AM on August 08, 2006

I do think the camp forming that believes Tiger "is past his prime" is a little premature. Over the last 10 years Tiger has 11 majors while the rest of the world has won 29 which everyone knows, but did you also know over that time period Tiger's average age was give or take 27.7 years while Rest of World was 33.9 years old when they won their majors? Also for a guy that is past his prime Tiger has 3 of the last 7 majors (42.9 %) and Rest of World has 4. Not bad for a guy knocking on Death's door

posted by kyrilmitch_76 at 06:34 AM on August 08, 2006

Look at that! Someone contributed something other than their "humble opinion" to the thread and got me interested again. Nice work, kyrilmitch. Tiger isn't your typical golfer, but if the graph of his career (success on the y, age on the x) mirrors the shape of a typical pro's, he has another 4 or maybe even 5 years until he reaches his prime, and then at least another 2 or 3 before he is past it. Factor in that he is fitter, stronger and more focused than any golfer you might care to mention in the history of the game, and he might have even longer at his prime once he reaches it. I'm still not buying the Everest thing. A golfing career is not a mountain.

posted by JJ at 07:22 AM on August 08, 2006

No, for lots of golfers, it's one helluva roller-coaster ride.

posted by mjkredliner at 09:27 AM on August 08, 2006

The posters doubting Tiger are living in a fantasy world. The only reason that you can't evenly compare him to the greats of the past is because Tiger is still racking up his wins! Look at how he compares to his peers. The PGA and the media try to build up Vijay, Phil, Ernie, Sergio, ad nauseum, but reallistically they do not compare to Tiger.

posted by whitedog65 at 09:27 AM on August 08, 2006

I have little doubt in my mind that when it is all said and done, Tiger will be seen as the G.O.A.T. Even if his pace slacks, by 45 he'll have shattered most of the meaningful records in the book. Winning 25% of the tourneys you enter is an astonishing statistic in that sport. Astonishing.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:50 AM on August 08, 2006

Ho-hum,Tiger wins another birdiefest on an overmatched course.Yet,the 50 win accomplishment is impressive,and Tiger is a great player. But I'll predict right now that the PGA at Medinah won't be No. 51. I don't really want to stir up the "Tiger can't win on truly tough courses" thing again,but two weeks from now,I'll be saying I told you so. The idea that Tiger can't win on tough courses and wins on an overmatched course is somewhat trivial. Tiger has already proven he can win on a tough course as well as the birdiefest courses. What is impressive to me is that he has shown he can beat the competition on several different venues requiring a dominating set of skills. It doesn't matter to me the difficulty level of the course, you still have to beat all of your opponents to win. It is kind of like making a par 5 into a par 4. Does it really make that much difference in the outcome? In the end, the player with the least amount of strokes wins. Medinah will be a tough test for all of the field, not just Tiger. I will be very suprised if Tiger does not post a Top Ten finish. One argument that can't be disputed is Tiger is the BEST PLAYER of his generation. I think trying to compare him to the greats of the past is like apples and oranges. The game has changed so much since the Jones, Palmer and Nicklaus eras. But it certainly is fun to debate the merits of each players accomplishments.

posted by panteeze at 10:38 AM on August 08, 2006

if nicklaus had the equiptment that they have now i wonder what the difference would be

posted by big don at 11:01 AM on August 08, 2006

I think trying to compare him to the greats of the past is like apples and oranges. More like comparing macintosh apples and granny smith apples. It's the same fruit, but there are differences that make them both enjoyable. Mmm...granny smith apples.

posted by grum@work at 11:05 AM on August 08, 2006

I have a theory - no, call it a notion - that really the equipment improvements have made the least difference to the best players. The place where the equipment changes have really had an impact is lower down the spectrum. The best players are the least in need of extra distance or compensation for off-centre ball striking. More dramatic than the raising of the pinnacle has been the lifting of the base and the widening of the pyramid. With everyone using all the fancy gear in the world, Nicklaus would still have kicked everyone's ass in his day, just as Tiger currently does. I wonder sometimes if the improvement in technology (along with the massive increase in prize money) isn't at least partly responsible for the current raft of top pros who seem to have no bottle or no stomach for the fight. 1965 - problem = I'm having touble with my wedge play; solution = take your wedge and go and hit it a million times until you're hitting it right. 2005 - problem = I'm having trouble with my wedge play; solution = try this one - it has two degrees less bounce, a milled face and the swing-weight is slightly heavier. Both ways the problem gets fixed, but which one would you feel more comfortable having done if you needed to hit a decent wedge over water to the final green? I'm not saying the modern guys don't practice - of course they do - but I get the feeling they treat sessions on the range more as time to tinker with their equipment and their swing, rather than to just do some honest shagging (baby) and build not only muscle memory, but confidence. I used to find after a couple of hours on the range, everything became automatic. In some senses, this was bad - if you get to the point where you could hit it 250 off your knees with your eyes shut, you're probably not doing your swing any good - but in another sense, it was good. I'd get to the tee in a tournament feeling like I'd worked really hard and it was time to see how far I'd come. Now I'm just reminiscing - sorry. To get slightly back to topic, it would wonderful if Nicklaus was playing now. He played such a different game and won so differently to Tiger (Tiger stamps all over the field an keeps them held at arm's length like an older sibling - Nicklaus just hung in there knowing that if he could be anywhere near you over the last nine holes, he'd beat you more often that you'd beat him). It's what golf needs, and quickly, if the current bubble is to be maintained - we need a Nicklaus who will not disappear on a Sunday afternoon when Tiger has the tournament by the scruff of the neck. If nothing else, Tiger's greatness may depend on it. Borg needed Mac. Nicklaus needed Watson. Tiger will be the best ever, but he needs stiffer competition to start coming through to make him show us (and himself) how good he really is. I'm glad lbb doesn't read the golf threads much. She'd kick my ass for this one.

posted by JJ at 12:13 PM on August 08, 2006

Tiger was once untouchable and won majors like they were nothing, he has long lost his untouchability and just because hes 30 doesnt mean he cant be past his prime since he started at 17.

posted by Clevelander32 at 12:20 PM on August 08, 2006

if nicklaus had the equiptment that they have now i wonder what the difference would be JJ already said it, but you must be able to see equipment improvements would affect all players just about equally.

posted by yerfatma at 01:22 PM on August 08, 2006

Here's a good question. What will Tiger break first? The 82 wins or 18 majors? He needs 32 more wins and 7 majors. Right now he has won 11 majors in his 50 wins, 22% or 1 major in every 4.55 wins. To break the record/records, Tiger would have to win one major for every 4.57 wins. Interesting numbers.

posted by dbt302 at 02:41 PM on August 08, 2006

I think he'll get to 19 majors before 83 wins because he'll start cutting down on the non-major tournaments as he gets older. Not because he'll get tired or need the break, but because he really doesn't need to win them as his endorsement money has/will far outstrip his actual earnings as a golfer. The majors have more prestige (by a factor of 10), which leads to more endorsements, etc.

posted by grum@work at 03:06 PM on August 08, 2006

But both the majors and the wins record, I think, mean way more to him then the money. He's got fuck-you money for generations now, and he's going to make more regardless of what happens from here on in, even after he retires. On top of his mental and physical talents, he's also very much a student of the game and its history. I'd be willing to bet (and in the post-tournament interviews this week, he actually came out & said) that he's not going to slow down his schedule appreciably at least until he's passed both those records. He may start a family at some point, but even then, his heroes all managed to play a full schedule and maintain a family, and I have no doubt that won't stop him or even slow him down. He's the Wayne Gretzky of golf. There were genuine capital-G Greats who came before him, but he will take the record book and run off & hide with it by the time he's done. We have at minimum five more years of Tiger on his current pace, and probably more like ten. If you really think he's over the hill and has lost the ability to win, I can only assume you're (a) forgetting about the four tournaments he's won this year already (including the British Open) and/or (b) Tonya Harding, and you've got a secret you're not telling us.

posted by chicobangs at 03:41 PM on August 08, 2006

We have at minimum five more years of Tiger on his current pace, and probably more like ten. If you really think he's over the hill and has lost the ability to win, I can only assume you're (a) forgetting about the four tournaments he's won this year already (including the British Open) and/or (b) Tonya Harding, and you've got a secret you're not telling us. I agree and I think Tiger is just reaching his stride. One factor worth mentioning is Tiger's physical conditioning. He cleary has an advantage over Jack, Arnie, Gary, Lee, etc.. as do most others on the PGA Tour today. You hear the phrase "Todays 40 is yesterdays 30" tossed around quite alot these days. Tiger might have another 15 strong years left in him before he begins to slow down.

posted by panteeze at 10:17 PM on August 08, 2006

Bit harsh to lump Player in with those others, panteeze. He worked pretty hard at his physical conditioning (and won way more titles than his talent and cheating could have won him otherwise - man, did I type that cheating thing out loud?). Tiger's physcial conditioning is wonderful, and it will extend his career for sure, but there are factors pulling in the other direction: the golf swing is a lot more brutal than it once was, the schedules and travelling are a lot tougher, and (if you're Tiger) all that is made even more draining by taking time to endorse every product under the sun in between times. On balance, I'm sure his fitness will provide a net gain, but if he were to cut down on anything, I'd like to see him cut down on the endorsements and the time he spends gaining and keeping them. I know he has all kinds of Michael Jordan inspired ideas about being the highest paid athlete in the world and so on, but I wonder sometimes if he's in danger of letting that cloud his game. One thing that struck me during the Open - we're a pretty lucky generation of golf fans getting to watch this all happening. Some people seem to think it's boring when he wins, but I could watch it all day (despite not being his biggest fan). Boring is going to be when I'm sitting in my chair at the age of 106 telling my great-grandkids about how good he was and how much better he was than the modern players hitting it 550 off the tee and using their 75 degree lob wedges. "With the equipment these guys have today kids, Tiger could have kicked Davis Love VI's ass!"

posted by JJ at 04:50 AM on August 09, 2006

the golf swing is a lot more brutal than it once was My father-in-law, who loves Tiger and knows his golf, has insisted forever Tiger's swing will ruin his back someday. Now dish on the Gary Player thing.

posted by yerfatma at 06:07 AM on August 09, 2006

Excellent point, JJ. I got to watch Jack and Arnie through the 70s when they still had all kinds of game, not to mention Seve, Tom Watson, Calvin Peete, Craig Stadler, Gary Player, Chi Chi, and some of the other greats. Nowdays, I get the best of the current game, Tiger, Sergio, Phil, Duval when he was playing lights out a few years ago, Daly, Curtis Strange, Greg Norman, et al. Those of us of a certain age have really lived through a near-golden age in golf. The game and the players have been fantastic to watch for years. 75 degree lob wedges Ooooh, I gotta get me one of those. For those tricky 8-yard chips to the green.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 06:53 AM on August 09, 2006

The Gary Player thing is mostly rumour (if we're talking about meaningful titles), which I will gladly concede could have been (as Player claimed) a thinly veiled racist slur on his (black) caddy. In the Open in 1974, he hit one into the knee-high off the 71st tee and a lot of people who were there claim that after a breif exchange with Player, his caddy dropped a second ball. Watson was notoriously irritated by Player and came very close on several occasions to going public with that irritation (apparently) - the closest he came was in one of the very early skins games when he was picked up on TV saying to Player something along the lines of "I'm getting sick of this shit, Gary." He also got warned once for trying to improve his lies during an Open Championship (I don't know which one and can't find reference to it online, so I'm trusting my old man that this happened) having several times taken out a wood in the heavy rough, had a few practice swings behind the ball (by the way, removing a lot of grass), and then changed his mind and hit an iron (with a considerably easier take-away). In terms of relatively meaningless titles, I saw him cheat twice at the Belfast Telegraph Irish Masters (seniors event that meant nothing in the grander scheme of things) - once kicking his ball in the rough and once blatantly pushing a putt into the hole from six inches. I'm fairly sure his playing partners noticed the second one, but no one called him on it. He won the tournament. Slightly worse, but hardly that big a deal in the history of the sport, was at the British Seniors Open at Royal Portrush. He hit it into the bunker at 17 (which is enormous) and his ball plugged in the face (which is the height of a two storey house). He clambered up, called for an official and got permission to remove enough sand to identify his ball. The rule states that having done so, you then have to cover the ball again before you hit it. He didn't. He won the tournament. You can call that an oversight on the part of the official. You can call that an oversight on the part of Player. Or you can call it what I think it is; cheating. Maybe not as verifiable as Vijay, but still, at best, outwith the spirit of the game I love. I love winners - I love watching Tiger beat everyone, I love watching Schumacher dominate - I should like Player, or at least grudingly admire him, but I don't. I don't like people who aren't as they portray themselves.

posted by JJ at 09:04 AM on August 09, 2006

Bit harsh to lump Player in with those others, panteeze. Maybe. I don't disagree with you that Player was physically fit. But he certainly wasn't built like Tiger (almost the size of an outside linebacker). I also agree that Tiger's swing is physically taxing on his body and I hope he can avoid future injuries by being careful. I don't think Tiger spends that much time on his endorsements. If you think about it, Tiger plays no more than 20 tournaments a year. That leaves him 32 weeks of time each year to devote to free time, endorsements, basically whatever he wants. I also don't think his travel, unlike other PGA members, is a drain on his energy. Having your own jet and yacht at your disposal certainly has to have its benefits. Time will tell though if I am wrong. Most of all, I agree with you that this is really fun to be a witness to this era in golf. I live 2 miles from Medinah and will be there every day to witness the fun firsthand. I am looking forward to revisiting the tree on number 16 where Sergio jammed his club in the base and hit an incredible shot followed by his famous hop.

posted by panteeze at 10:30 AM on August 09, 2006

Awesome stuff. Of course, it's the kind of thing that makes me worried about the net: if you happen to be Tom Watson incognito, there's no way to know that.

posted by yerfatma at 12:03 PM on August 09, 2006

JJ, question: Why would Gary's caddie drop a ball on the 71st hole of a tournament when he had a six shot lead at the time? The incident (at the very first Skins Game, I might add) between he and Tom Watson is documented, but no video exists to back up neither Tom's or Gary's claim of what happened. Many players have been warned by officials that, when in the act of a practice swing, that they may disturb the lie, or perhaps tree limbs in the way of their swing. And why, if you saw him kicking his ball in the rough, did you not bring it to someone's attention, as TV viewers are notorious for doing, when they notice a rules violation? And why would Gary Player, who has won an estimated 160 times worldwide, feel compelled to cheat at anything? As he is one of the greatest Ambassadors of the Game, in the history of The Game, I am inclined to give Mr. Player the benefit of the doubt, barring any concrete evidence that those allegations are true.

posted by mjkredliner at 01:13 PM on August 09, 2006

mjk - from the (golfing) cheats I've known, motive is seldom evident. It's more like a malignant golfing tourettes, or the golfing equivalent of a compulsive liar. I agree, that it seems like a massive risk to take in such a situation as the one Player found himself, but it's also worth bearing in mind what leading a major has done to the clarity of other players' minds. I'd like to believe (disgusting as it would be) that the accusations stemmed from racial intolerance of Player's caddy, but the side of that argument of that doesn't stand up for me is that the tournament was not being played in Johannesburg, it was being played in Britain, where the public may have harboured all manner of racial prejudice in 1974, but they were still that odd British mix of vehemence and supplication that would have inspired a letter to the Daily Mail before an outburst in the heat of the moment. Many players have been warned by officials that, when in the act of a practice swing, that they may disturb the lie, or perhaps tree limbs in the way of their swing. Fine - but he was warned for doing it repeatedly after the fact. Besides, just because everyone else is at it, doesn't make it acceptable to me - the situation in Player's own country (and the land of my birth) at the time was a prime example of that. "We're racialists, but it's OK bcause we're ALL racialists." why, if you saw him kicking his ball in the rough, did you not bring it to someone's attention There's no "if" about it - I saw him kick his ball from about ten feet away - perhaps I should have said something, but there were mitigating factors. The tournament was being played at my father's home club (of which he was captain at the time). I wasnt about to piss on that particular parade. Secondly, he's Gary Player - who the hell am I? I wasn't so young that I didn't know it was wrong, but I was young enough to be clueless as to what to do about it. Thirdly and lastly, it was Northern Ireland - we were reared with Seamus Heaney's lines echoing in our ears: "Whatever you say, say nothing." Weak excuses I'll grant you, and if I saw it tomorrow I'd be straight over to him to give him the option of fessing up or having me shout about it. And why would Gary Player, who has won an estimated 160 times worldwide, feel compelled to cheat at anything? I'm sort of back to my first point with this one - most of the golfing cheats I've encountered have been international standard amateurs, too enamoured with being so to admit they're no longer good enough to be thought of as such. I wouldn't assume to know Gary Player's mind, but if I had to guess, I'd guess there was a similar refusal to admit weakness at play. One thing Player has done repeatedly is exaggerate what he has achieved - when he lists his wins, he lists them all - and as Jack once said when asked about Player's winning record, "It's impressive, but he'd count the Singapore fourball if you let him." I accept your inclination to give him the benefit of the doubt for sure - and if we were anywhere more public than just shooting the shit at the tail end of a thread about four of us are reading anymore, I'd maybe tone down my speculation a bit more. Nothing I've mentioned would even get into a court, let alone stand up when it got there. You see a great ambassador for the game. I see a fake confidence that masks small-man-syndrome of the worst kind. To my mind, he lacks many of the things that make a man someone to be admired - modesty, honesty, integrity - an accusation I can't conceive of levelling at Jack, Arnie, Tiger... the list goes on. This would be so much more fun a discussion after 18 holes and half a dozen pints.

posted by JJ at 01:47 PM on August 09, 2006

[I'd love to carry on talking about it - I'd especially love someone to tell me something about Player that would make me like the guy, even a little more than I currently don't - but I'm stuck in the office trying to finish up so I can go home and pack for a trip to Holland tomorrow to play in a tournament myself. It's nothing prestigeous, but you can be damn sure that if Player turned up and won it, he'd add it to his list of "titles"]

posted by JJ at 01:50 PM on August 09, 2006

I'd especially love someone to tell me something about Player that would make me like the guy, even a little more than I currently don't He donated both his kidneys to the homeless.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 02:03 PM on August 09, 2006

Good luck in your tourney, amigo.

posted by mjkredliner at 02:41 PM on August 09, 2006

TBH - that shouldn't have made me laugh as much as it did. mjk - luck has nothing to do with it; at my fallen-from-grace level these days, it's all about the booze. But thanks.

posted by JJ at 02:44 PM on August 09, 2006

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