The debate about whether or not Tiger Woods will overtake Jack Nicklaus as “greatest player to ever play the game” is certainly not new. Woods was still a teenager when predictions and speculations started swirling and the question has never quite disappeared since. What has transpired recently, however, is something that no one could have predicted.
Many people had begun to assume that it was not a matter of “if” Tiger would catch Jack, but “when.” But then Tiger’s personal life and career abruptly spiraled out of control in 2010 and the story took a tragic turn. For a while it looked as if Tiger might not ever win another PGA tournament. He struggled back and began playing competitively yet for the last two years the prevailing opinion has been that the “Old Tiger” was gone forever and Jack’s record of most majors ever won would remain in tact. Although there are still plenty of people who believe that, Tiger’s recent play (especially his dominant win at Torrey Pines at the end of January) has once again stoked the flames of the debate. Many feel Tiger is back and that it is once again just a matter of time before he surpasses all of Nicklaus’s meaningful records.
Although it is time that will eventually have the last word and history will be the one to settle the debate, we can all agree that Tiger’s resurgence has revived the old debate and should provide for some entertaining golf in the years to come. Here’s a quick side-by-side comparison (and some interesting notes) of each golfer’s more impressive career accomplishments.
Career major wins (U.S. Open, British Open, The Players Championship, The Masters):
Career PGA Tour Wins:
Career Grand Slam? (Winning each of the four majors at least once)
Tiger has the lowest career scoring average in PGA Tour history and has amassed the most career earnings of any player in PGA Tour history (inflation factored in). He is also the only player to win all four professional major championships in a row and set the all-time record for most consecutive cuts made, with 142.
Nicklaus holds the outright record for the most wins at two of the majors: The Masters (6) and The Players Championship (3). He played on six Ryder Cup teams and was captain two different times. He was also captain of the Presidents Cup team four separate times. Nicklaus topped the PGA Tour money list and had the best scoring average eight times different times and holds the record for making at least one top ten finish in a major for 24 straight seasons (from 1960 to 1983).
Nicklaus won his last major in 1986 but competed for years after, playing in his last professional major in 2000, at the age of 60. Tiger is currently 37 and the non-impact nature of golf leads to considerably longer careers than most professional sports but he does have a history of injury.
Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/7452498338/