Of course nothing could be further from the truth. But just for grins, lets look in on the year 2000, when he had his greatest season thus far, and compare it to last season, when he felt he was again nearing the pinnacle of success. He begins his quest for the 2006 season in San Diego this week.
He broke Byron Nelsons adjusted scoring record, posting a 68.17. He achieved the highest point average in the history of the World Rankings, and had the largest margin ever over his closest rival (Ernie Els). It was, in short, one of the greatest seasons ever ' and it can be argued that it was THE greatest.
Unfortunately, his ferocious swing was causing him knee problems, and at the end of 2003 he finally succumbed to an operation in which fluid, as well as several cysts, were removed. The result was a new swing which caused less stress on the joint. The 2004 season was dedicated to learning the new movement, and finally 2005 was a banner campaign, the end of which Tiger pronounced himself as good as 2000.
If you went solely by statistics, 2000 would seen to be much the superior year with three additional victories. But I can see where statistics could possibly lie ' the opposition might simply have gotten better in the ensuing five years.
There is simply no way to compare the excellence of 2000 with a season five years into the future. The year 2005, by the way, was outstanding in its own right. Was it the greatest? Probably not ' Vijay Singh won nine times alone in 2004, for example, and Woods year of 2000 seems to tower over every other season. But ' since we are just doodling around, lets play a game and compare the Tiger of 2000 with the Tiger of 2005.
The Tiger of 2005 would have had the advantage off the tee. Tiger 2005 blasted his drives an average of 316, while the 2000 version averaged just 298.
But wait just a minute ' it could be argued that the drivers circa 2005 allowed him to add 15-17 yards. Fair enough. But comparing him to his opposition seems a more fair way. And in 2005, Woods was second on tour in driving distance. In 2000, his 298 was ' second! Hmmm, no advantage there in either figure.
OK, lets go to a stat which is fairly meaningless when you are bombing drives out there that distance. Lets compare driving accuracy. He hit 71.2 percent of his fairways in 2000. And last year he hit ' just 54.6? His ranking last year was 188th, while in 2000 he was 54th.
OK, fair enough, but the fairways-hit figure is fairly inconsequential when one is hitting wedges and 9-irons into virtually every par-4 green. So lets compare greens hit. In 2005 he hit 70 percent, good for sixth on tour. And in 2000 he hit ' a little better than 75 percent, which was first on tour.
OK then, lets go to the putting category. In 2005, he was the No. 5-ranked putter with 1.731 putts (adjusted) per hole. And in 2000 ' here it is ' he was first again, with 1.717.
Scoring? He was first (as usual) in 2005 with a 68.66 average. But in 2000, he was also first, with 67.79.
Now, let me tell you what is wrong with all this analysis: golf courses have gotten longer and tighter than in 2000; and equipment has changed dramatically. Not to mention that the men who are playing this year ' heck, the men who were playing LAST year ' are much different from 2000. Are they a better group than 2000? Undoubtedly they are. Golf in 2006 is not the same game as Golf 2000.
Sometimes Tiger is given a little bit to hyperbole. He is the Baghdad Bob of golf, blind to the enemy armor that everyone else can see. But that is at least partially the reason for Tigers over-all excellence ' he convinces himself of his own invincibility. And because he is able to convince himself, he just overwhelms all the others. He swears he has never played the game better, never been physically better, and while it strains the bounds of credibility a bit, who am I to argue?
While a few of us oldtimers hold onto the view that Tiger 2000 will never again be matched, this view is not shared by Tiger himself. A view of us are myopic enough that we cannot visualize anyone ever playing better than that Tiger of five years ago.
But only a fool would ever doubt this man. If he says he will be better, he most likely will be better. Im not going to be one who doubts him.
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