August 20, 2006

Massacre at Medinah: I admit it wasn't the Medinah we thought it would be but Tiger still wins walking away. Tiger has won his last three events. It seems like he is on another one of his rolls where he wins 5 or 6 in a row. Are we half way to another Tiger Slam?

posted by dbt302 to golf at 08:16 PM - 29 comments

He's in such a groove with his swing, he's comfortable leaving the driver in the bag, and he's putting lights-out. I don't care what happens in the Ryder Cup, there just isn't a single golfer in the world anywhere remotely close to him. He'll pass Jack (in majors) within 4 years, maybe less.

posted by dyams at 08:54 PM on August 20, 2006

I,m not a big golf fan(I watch it now and then because its usually very soothing)but it is becoming evident that Tiger is the greatest golfer in history. He is only 30, so the sky is still the limit.

posted by sickleguy at 08:56 PM on August 20, 2006

Without question, Tiger Woods is still the greatest golfer in the world. Many questioned his play after his father's untimely passing, but after one bad play missing the cut in the US Open, he has dominated his last 3 tournaments, including two majors. I think his father's death has only strengthened him as a player, and given him more motivation than ever to succeed. All I have to say is what Tom Watson said after Tiger won his first Masters - " now the rest of us are just playing for second place." To deny this is simply stupid.

posted by fabricman2006 at 09:13 PM on August 20, 2006

" now the rest of us are just playing for second place." During the broadcast, that's exactly what the announcers were talking about. They said Shaun Micheel "won" the "other tournament" today. They've started openly speculating when he'll pass the Golden Bear in total major wins. They were trying to guess which course will be the lucky one to host the historic event. The latest guess they had was Medinah in 2011.

posted by grum@work at 09:42 PM on August 20, 2006

I will be the first to admit that my earlier prediction that Tiger would NOT win at Medinah was incorrect. Tiger played great. However, my real error was overrating Medinah's degree of difficulty; what was supposed to be a true championship test was little more than an ultra-soft birdie extravaganza which,like Royal Liverpool, played right into Tiger's capable hands. I express my well-deserved mea culpa, but look forward to next year, when Oakmont,Carnoustie, and Southern Hills should prove my unshaken and continuing contention that Tiger fails to show dominance when a proper degree of difficulty is reflected by the major championship course being played. And, quite obviously, the benign Medinah simply did not provide nearly the test to prove my point and expose Tiger's Achilles' heel the way that Winged Foot unquestionably did.

posted by judgedread at 10:50 PM on August 20, 2006

Its soothing to watch Tiger in this era of drug doping, contract holdouts and overhyping of stars. All he does is win majors (now up to an even dozen). He's 2/3 the way to Nicklaus and I do believe that he's got another Tiger Slam coming up. He'll clean up at Agusta next April and then it comes down to the US Open (prolly the one tournament he has trouble with the most). We're watching history in lieu of a dark cloud of stuff.

posted by chemwizBsquared at 11:05 PM on August 20, 2006

I express my well-deserved mea culpa, but look forward to next year, when Oakmont,Carnoustie, and Southern Hills should prove my unshaken and continuing contention that Tiger fails to show dominance when a proper degree of difficulty is reflected by the major championship course being played. ...while completely ignoring the fact that he won the US Open in 2000 (at Pebble Beach) by 15 strokes, and was the only golfer under par for the tournament. Now, I guess you could believe that it was an easy course and that every single one of the other golfers were shooting 10 or 12 strokes off their normal skill level.

posted by grum@work at 11:10 PM on August 20, 2006

Good point, grum, but Tiger's record still reflects overall that the closer to par the winning score is, the less likely Tiger is the one winning it.

posted by judgedread at 11:46 PM on August 20, 2006

judgedread, Tiger was the only player in the field to shoot in the 60's all 4 rounds, & he played the same course as everyone else. Look at who the field included. I doubt you underestimated Medinah's difficulty, you could go play the course tomorrow and I would be willing to bet most people would shoot more than double their handicap, and likewise, I bet any one of the pros who missed the cut could go to your local muni and scorch it. Throw out Tigers score, and the scoring was not that low, even by PGA Championship standards. A high winning score does not necessarily mean it is "true championship test". As some others will agree, if the course is made too difficult, by tricking it up with high rough, and making greens rock hard, you are taking a lot of skill out of the game, and inviting the "luckiest player" to do well, especially around the greens. I do not know what your idea of a "proper degree of difficulty" is, but I think you should remember that 155 other players all play the same course every time Tiger tees it up. The course was set up well, and Medinah #3 is revered as "A true championship test of golf" by every single touring pro, I guarantee you that. Then again, I guess ol' Tiger could just be "the luckiest player".

posted by mjkredliner at 11:46 PM on August 20, 2006

but Tiger's record still reflects overall that the closer to par the winning score is, the less likely Tiger is the one winning it. It shouldn't matter what Tiger's score is in relation to par, it should be what the rest of the field does. If he dismantles a "tough" course (like he did in 2000 at Pebble Beach), it shouldn't be held against him. Essentially, what you are saying is that if Tiger shoots a very low score, then it couldn't possibly be a competitive course. Besides, he won the US Open in 2002 with a final score of -3. Since that seemed to be a "competitive" course (as only a handful of golfers broke par), and his final score was "close to par", would that be an acceptable result in your eyes?

posted by grum@work at 12:10 AM on August 21, 2006

Judgedread, your ability to hold to your belief in the face of a decade-plus of overwhelming evidence proving it wrong is admirable. The results in Tiger's last four tournaments (two of them majors)were as follows: Second, First, First and First. Do you mean to tell me that those four courses (ignoring fully one-fourth of all PGA-level courses worldwide over the last decade, and that's just his victories, not his top-5's or top-3's) are to be credited for Tiger's success, and not the one thing those four tournaments had in common, namely, Tiger outshooting the competition, as often as not by a large margin? To believe the last four consecutive PGA courses were all skewed unfairly in Tiger's favor is ludicrous. Occam's Razor was written for arguments like this. Tiger Woods is maybe halfway through the productive part of what is going to be (barring catastrophe) the greatest career the sport has ever seen. To not give him his props for some arbitrary reason is player-hating of a very high order indeed.

posted by chicobangs at 02:16 AM on August 21, 2006

There is a measure of validity to judgdreads claim, it would take a while to statistically back it up, but I do see what he is saying. But, Tigers huge margins of victory (by 15@2000 US Open, by 12@1997 Masters, by 8@2000 British Open, and by 5@2006 PGA) speak volumes as well. But, on courses where the winning score is near par, Tiger has not fared as well, and I think a lot of people are catching on that "Tiger Proofing" courses by making them longer only plays to his strong suits. He does not fare as well on the shorter, tighter layouts it seems to me, either, and consequently, does not play many events that feature those type courses. ie; The Colonial, Harbour Town, Westchester, etc. (Sorry, those are club names, not corporate sponsors) But, you certainly cannot say the course is easy when he obliterates the field, and the field is at or near par. I wouldn't care to say his game can't adapt to any course if need be,either.

posted by mjkredliner at 05:49 AM on August 21, 2006

I will be the first to admit that my earlier prediction that Tiger would NOT win at Medinah was incorrect. Tiger played great. However, my real error was overrating Medinah's degree of difficulty; Leave those grapes on the vine a few more weeks and they won't be quite as sour.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 06:19 AM on August 21, 2006

As I recall, Tiger won his last major without using a driver and was regularly out distanced off the tee by his playing partners. I think the days of Tiger-proofing are pretty much over. He simply has every shot he needs in his bag. Being a Mike Weir booster (c'mon, what else are we hosers supposed to do?) I was hoping for a good start by him and a hint at a chink in the armour for Tiger. After Mike birdied one I felt good... For exactly four minutes. Tiger's 40 footer on 2 or 3 made it perfectly clear that everyone else was toast.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:51 AM on August 21, 2006

Tigers record at courses where he has won previously, suggest it would be foolish to bet against him at such venues as well. 4 wins at Augusta, 4 at Bay Hill. 4 at the Memorial, 3 or 4 at Pebble Beach, 2 for 2 at St. Andrews, and, of course, 2 for 2 at Medinah #3. All very respected courses, too.

posted by mjkredliner at 09:04 AM on August 21, 2006

Judge, it seems to me that you're saying that Tiger can't have strengths and weaknesses. He can't be dominant, because if he plays on a course that's designed in a way that highlights the weakest parts of his game, he's only on a par with the best players in the world, right? Under the worst conditions (for his game), the worst you can say is that he's less likely to win. However, more often than not, if the course has features that are more friendly to his style of play, he doesn't just beat the "premier" players, he DESTROYS them. The very fact that he's still in contention on courses that go against his strengths speaks volumes about his abilities relative to the competition. So, let's review. If he's on a course that plays to his weaknesses, he's as likely to win as anyone else. If he plays on a course that is more favorable to his style of play, he's likely to crush everyone else. To you, does dominance mean that he has to win every tournament under all conditions?

posted by ctal1999 at 09:16 AM on August 21, 2006

Okay, I admit Woods is spectacular ... but let's not go overboard.

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:03 AM on August 21, 2006

The thing with Tiger is that he is playing so much smarter than he use to. Now he'll take the 3 or 5 wood off the tee. If you shorten the course and make it tighter, he'll just hit a stinger and still play from the short grass. It doesn't matter how far he is away from the hole. He can take an iron and get it there. Didn't he take an 8 iron and hit it 196 yards on a par three yesterday? An 8 iron!!! Do what you want to the courses, Tiger has the talent and the brains to win. The only one smarter than Tiger was his dad. Even Tiger mentioned that during his interview.

posted by dbt302 at 10:32 AM on August 21, 2006

Okay, I admit Woods is spectacular ... but let's not go overboard appears a lot of people are doing just that, if this defines overboard. Many sportswriters today, I am sure, are likening him to Gretsky, MJ, even Ali. Lets face it, who would be the number one most recognizable athlete in the world today if it isn't Tiger? Going into 2006, or forward to 2007, who has the most money locked up in endoresment contracts prior to performance. I daresay Tiger; and who am I to question Nike, AmExpress, Buick, Rolex. They know what they are getting up front for their money; the most recognizable player in any sport, and probably the best in show in the world arena of athletics. All the discussion merely fuels Tigers ability to command more endorsement cash. Tigers performances continue to be historic, and there are those who are always unconfortable when history is being re-written. He has dominated golf like no other, at every level he has competed on. Some question his collegiate achievements, but he may not have had those targets prioritized versus the National Amateur scene. What remains now is for Tiger to rectify his Ryder Cup record- a tall order given that match play is so intimate and instantly reactive.

posted by Leominster at 10:49 AM on August 21, 2006

Thank you wfrazerjr - I was getting ready to post that (had to clean up my workspace from my upchuck first). I've only recently started to warm up to Tiger (still find myself wanting someone to knock him down a notch - even just once), but have never failed to respect his greatness. On the other hand, "greatest athlete ever" is irresponsible and ridiculous. Hey, if nothing else, there's one more set of columns I don't have to worry about reading as soon as I seen Wojciechowski's name attached to it. On preview - big difference between "best" and "most recognizable" athlete, Leominster (no arguments about "most recognizable"). And, it's one thing to mention him in the same breath as athletes from other sports, if you're addressing the importance they carry within their own sport. But, to athletically compare Tiger to Gretzky, MJ, Thorpe is pure silliness (almost as equally silly as comparing those guys to one another even without Tiger in the conversation).

posted by littleLebowski at 10:55 AM on August 21, 2006

A couple interesting facts to ponder. Nicklaus compiled 18 majors over 25 years. Woods is at a dozen after only 10 years on the PGA Tour. It was the fifth major that Woods won by at least five shots. He now has won his 12 majors by a combined 56 shots, while Nicklaus won his 18 majors by 44 shots.

posted by dbt302 at 11:21 AM on August 21, 2006

Comparing athletes from individual sports (like golf, tennis or boxing) against athletes from team sports (like soccer, football, etc) or against athletes from "riding/driving" sports (auto racing, yachting, horse racing) is almost impossible. Individual athletes do not get help from anyone and are not required to help anyone. Championships rest on their shoulders alone. Team athletes need help from other teammates and provide help for other teammates. They cannot win a championship without an able team around them, regardless of their skill. Riding/driving athletes compete as individuals but rely heavily on the equipment they are using.

posted by grum@work at 11:37 AM on August 21, 2006

Mickelson's coach can talk all he wants about Phil having the best game. Tiger is peerless.

posted by Bill Lumbergh at 12:02 PM on August 21, 2006

grum, you are (of course/as usual) correct, but Tiger is overhauling his sport in a measurable and quanitifiable (to a certain degree) way. In my mind, the comparisons to Jordan or Ali aren't right. He's the Wayne Gretzky of golf. Like Wayne, he's an all-around player with his greatest weapons being his mind and instinct, he's in the process of putting the record book out of reach for generations to come, they're redrawing courses to accommodate him, and ever since very early childhood (with the guidance of a strong and wise father figure) he's conducted himself with an eye to to being a part of the grand historical continuum of his sport. If you look at how Gretzky's career panned out, that's the template for how Tiger is going. He could do way, way worse.

posted by chicobangs at 01:06 PM on August 21, 2006

Bayless is writing his "Oh yeah, I'm picking Tiger as Best Human Ever" column. It'll be a bracket that will include Louis Pasteur, Roosevelt, Hannibal of Carthage, Barbaro (out on technicality) and Dom Deluise.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:26 PM on August 21, 2006

Maybe it is not proper to compare Jordan, Ali, Gretzky and Tiger as they did all compete in different sports. However, they do all have one thing in common...........They are not afraid to kick their opponents in the nuts when they are lying down.

posted by panteeze at 01:32 PM on August 21, 2006

If Skip "My Columns, Please" Bayless knows who Louis Pasteur is (let alone Hannibal), I'll eat Dom Deluise, foofy satin Blazing Saddles scarf and all.

posted by chicobangs at 01:38 PM on August 21, 2006

The French Mistake.

posted by yerfatma at 04:40 PM on August 21, 2006

Screw you, I'm workin' for Mel Brooks!

posted by The_Black_Hand at 05:13 AM on August 22, 2006

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