Numbers don't lie: Woods' game is all right

By Jason SobelMarch 12, 2013, 12:30 pm

The following is a question I received during a radio interview in advance of this past week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship:

“What’s wrong with Tiger Woods?”

I somehow muddled my way through a (hopefully) coherent response after being caught completely off guard at the insinuation that something was indeed wrong with Woods. Sure, he had finished T-37 at the Honda Classic just a few days earlier, which is obviously well below his standards. And yes, he lost in the opening round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship one week earlier; though in his defense, he didn’t make a single bogey against a red-hot Charles Howell III.

In his previous start, however, Woods won the Farmers Insurance Open in runaway fashion, playing his patented prevent defense in the final round for a triumph that was less dramatic than methodical.

Photos: Tiger wins Doral | Tiger through the years | Tiger's 76 Tour wins

How many majors for Woods in 2013?

That gave him one victory in three PGA Tour appearances this season, a 33.3 percent clip that even exceeds his career number of 26.5 percent as a professional entering the year.

If that stat sounds too amazing to be true, try this one on for size: Through four starts so far this season, that number has actually improved to a 26.9 percent win rate.

At the new House of Trump, he triumphed in much the same way again, parlaying a four-stroke 54-hole lead into a two-stroke victory that was really never in doubt. When weekend playing competitor Graeme McDowell was asked after the final round about chasing Woods, he admitted, 'The last time I thought I had a chance to catch him was probably (Saturday).'

End result? I don’t think I’ll be hearing that aforementioned question again anytime soon. While we’re at it, maybe we can finally stop with the incessantly annoying, “Is Tiger back?” queries, too.

He’s now won more PGA Tour titles than any other player since the beginning of last season. If he’s not back, then no one else is, either.

In fact, if we’re to analyze Woods’ recent accomplishments, there’s a lot more positive spin to place on them than those of the negative variety.

There are some who believe Tiger will never be considered the greatest player of all-time until the day he passes Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 career major championship titles. I include myself in that group, largely based on the reason that Woods includes himself in that group, as well.

Ask him about non-majors and he’ll contend that while winning clearly beats the alternative, his main intention is to have his game peak four times per year.

That said, if we use Woods’ 76th career PGA Tour win as an occasion to compare and contrast with the exploits of Nicklaus in all events, as opposed to just majors, it isn’t a fair fight. As already mentioned, Woods owns a 26.9 percent win rate as a professional. Nicklaus finished with a career percentage of 12.7, which although brilliant in its own right, looks paltry by comparison. Include only the years through his 37th birthday – Woods’ age right now – and the number is a much more impressive 19.9 percent, though it’s still a far cry from the only man in modern history who owns a better number.

It’s not as if Woods has played a lot fewer events, either; the insinuation being that cherry-picking his schedule would aid his overall percentage. Tiger competed in an average of 18.1 tournaments for the first 15 full seasons of his professional career, though that number includes campaigns limited due to injury, his father’s death and much publicized personal strife. Nicklaus, meanwhile, played just two more events each season, tallying an average of 20.2 for his first 15 seasons while never reaching 20 after 1970, the year he turned 30.

Toss in the fact that the majority of Woods’ starts come against only the most elite global competition and his historic number keeps sounding all the more impressive.

Now, it’s perfectly acceptable to claim that Woods’ full body of PGA Tour work be compared not with Nicklaus, but Sam Snead, the only man who owns a higher career victory total. Fair enough.

That doesn’t mean, though, that Woods will appear any less dominant. Here’s the only statistic you need to know for this comparison: Snead won his 76th career title the same week he turned 46 years old. Tiger was 37 years, 2 months and 10 days on Sunday, which means he could fail to win another tournament through the end of the 2021 season and still remain ahead of Slammin’ Sam’s victory pace.

In fact, Woods isn’t far from Snead’s individual total right now. Those 82 wins included five team victories – two apiece with Ralph Guldahl and Jim Ferrier; one with Vic Ghezzi. Remove them and Snead is mired at a mere 77, placing him just one ahead of Woods in tournament titles without a partner.

Keep all of this info in mind the next time someone asks, “What’s wrong with Tiger?” Every Sunday afternoon isn’t going to be a triumphant coronation, just like 73.1 percent of his previous Sunday afternoons on Tour.

Just because Woods doesn’t win isn’t reason for claiming that something is “wrong” with his game. If he proved anything on this particular Sunday afternoon, it’s that right now, something is very right.

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

"It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."