Tiger Woods' 14 major victories came over a varierty of foes, from Hall-of-Famers to journeymen. But does the skill of Woods' closest competitors matter when evaluating the wins? The answer is yes, at least according to noted golf writer Dan Jenkins.
During a wide-ranging interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jenkins pointed to the names below Woods' on several major leaderboards as a sign that the fields were not as deep then as they are today.
"There's much more talent at the top (and the bottom) than there was during Tiger's peak years. Tiger beat a lot of nobodies to win most of his majors," Jenkins said. "Yeah, there was Phil (Mickelson) and (Ernie) Els around, in and out, but go back and look who was second to him in those majors and tell me where they are now."
The list of players who finished second to Woods in majors is a lengthy one, and it includes both Mickelson (2002 U.S. Open) and Els (twice), not to mention Sergio Garcia (1999 PGA), David Duval (2001 Masters) and Retief Goosen (2002 Masters). But it also includes the likes of Thomas Bjorn (2000 British Open), Bob May (2000 PGA), Shaun Micheel (2006 PGA) and Woody Austin (2007 PGA).
The latter group combined for five PGA Tour wins and one major, that being Micheel's 2003 PGA Championship win. Woods' most recent major win came in a playoff over Rocco Mediate, who was 45 years old when the two dueled at the 2008 U.S. Open.
Jenkins - who drew Woods' ire last year with a parody article in Golf Digest - also believes that the days of Woods challenging Jack Nicklaus' major record are over.
"He'll be lucky to win another major," Jenkins said. "He’s a few months away from turning 40, which means he will only have five good years left to do it. In all of history, only four players have won a major beyond the age of 44. One more thing to consider: Tiger gets older every year, and the current best players are much younger and are no longer intimidated by him."