Tiger Great Federer a Bit Better

By Mercer BaggsJanuary 29, 2007, 5:00 pm
Tiger Woods is without peer. Thats the popular notion. But there is one active player who might not only be Tigers equal, but perhaps his superior.
 
He just happens to play another sport.
 
Roger Federer is to tennis what Woods is to golf: a man so dominant that he is not only the best of his generation, but may one day be considered the greatest of all time.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods watches Roger Federer win last year's U.S. Open. (WireImage)
Federer is as currently incomparable in his sport as Tiger is in his. But who between the two is better? Whose accomplishments are more impressive?
 
Obviously, both men can state a mighty strong case. The numbers for each man border on absurd.
 
Woods has 55 wins on his primary tour and 12 major championship victories. Federer, who turned pro two years after Woods, has 46 singles victories and 10 grand slam titles.
 
Both men are currently No. 1 in their respective sports by massive margins. Woods holds golfs record for most consecutive weeks on top; Federer is guaranteed to race past Jimmy Connors mark in just a few weeks.
 
Tiger won this past week's Buick Invitational to extend his PGA TOUR winning streak to a personal best seven. Roger won this past week's Australian Open to run his match winning streak to a personal best 36.
 
I could sit here and recite each mans accomplishments until I grew a ZZ Top beard. But I'll give way to time and brevity and say simply: Tiger and Roger are above and beyond everyone else ' except each other.
 
Woods first met Federer (theyre both IMG clients) last year when the latter won the U.S. Open. And, in the It Takes One to Know One department, the two sporting icons developed a friendship.
 
Its not a buddy-buddy, call-you-on-the-weekend kind of relationship. Its one based on mutual respect, and even a bit of awe.
 
So, whos better in his respective sport, the more dominant figure? Thats purely subjective, and you can't really go wrong either way. The humble Federer, who is almost six years younger, would probably say Woods. And when Tiger was voted 2006 AP Male Athlete of the Year he responded by saying: 'What (Federers) done in tennis, I think, is far greater than what I've done in golf. He's lost what ... five matches in three years? That's pretty good.'
 
My subjective viewpoint: Federer gets a slight nod.
 
I give the advantage to Federer primarily because tennis is a match-play sport. You have to beat an individual head-to-head in every match in order to win.
 
Many will argue that it is more difficult to beat a field of 156 to win a tournament instead of just beating seven or so players on your way to a title. But I disagree.
 
This would be the case if you were just talking about playing one round. But when you spread an event out over the course of 72 holes, you don't have to be the best every day, just the best over four days.
 
In tennis, however, you have to be the better man each day -- better than the man on the opposite side of the net.
 
Of course, Federer, like Woods, doesnt always have to be at his best in order to win. He has the talent to give a sub-par performance and still stomp -- or intimidate -- the jelly out of his opponent.
 
But what if golf was match play all the time? What if every tournament was like the WGC-Match Play Championship? Would Tiger win as much as he does in stroke-play events?
 
I dont think so.
 
Woods has won the WGC-Match Play twice. And if every event was contested under a match-play format, he would still win more than anyone else on the PGA TOUR. But I dont think he would be as dominant as he is in stroke play.
 
To make things a little more equivalent, since the men play a best 3-out-of-5 sets in grand slam events, golf majors could be 36 holes of match play each day. That would certainly benefit Tiger, in relation to fitness and the fact that the better player usually prevails over a longer contest.
 
But, all in all, I think its easier for Woods to win over the course of four medal-play rounds than it is for him to win by beating a single opponent head-to-head each day.
 
The underdog always has a greater chance of winning in the short run.
 
Most sports fans know who Roger Federer is, but not too many ' at least in the U.S. ' know how great he truly is. And if you're not overly familiar with him, take a look at his bio page on wikipedia.org. Raymond Babbitt couldn't calculate those numbers.
 
Roger Federer
Roger Federer is four behind Pete Sampras on the all-time grand slam wins list. (WireImage)
Federer isn't truly appreciated by many in the States for a few reasons. First of all, he's not American, and, as Englishman Luke Donald accurately pointed out a few years ago, Americans are 'quite insular.'
 
Two, tennis has lost a lot of popularity over here, as there are no great U.S. champions at the moment. And, unless we're the best at something, then the sport doesn't really matter.
 
Thirdly, Federer just happens to be a decent person. Swiss-born, hes relatively quite and demur, not one to boast or throw tantrums. In America, all too often, we only seem to care about the sound and the fury of an athlete, not their significance.
 
Federer, on the other hand, is more interested in adding to his trophy case than increasing his Q rating. And, because of that, he only makes headlines when he wins ' particularly when he wins a grand slam event, because thats the only time many people ever pay attention to mens tennis.
 
And win he does ' a lot.
 
Federer was once quoted as saying: I can cope with losing much easier than I used to. I used to cry very much and be very disappointed.
 
Defeat is easy to handle when it's seldom experienced.
 
Since the start of 2004, Federers official record is 254-17. Thats a 94.4 percent winning percentage. Hes also won nine of 13 grand slam titles during this stretch. Last year, he went 92-5, with four of those losses coming to one opponent, Rafael Nadal.
 
One of those Nadal defeats came in the finals of the French Open. If there is one knock against Federer, its that he has never won the French, which is played on a clay surface (the other three grand slam events are played on either grass or hard court).
 
Woods, meanwhile, has won all four of his sports major events. Federers not winning the French is akin to Tiger never winning the Open Championship. Of course, Woods has done that three times.
 
You could say that Federer has to deal with clay-court specialists in trying to win the French, guys who were raised and excel on that one surface. You could say that makes it tougher for him to win the French than it does for Tiger to win the British.
 
I wouldnt say that. In golf, certain players play certain courses better than others. There are guys who perform better at Augusta National than they do anywhere else, or guys who are better suited for a U.S. Open layout, or even guys who just love links-style golf.
 
Tiger just happens to be able to win on all of these surfaces. He can adapt his game accordingly, win just about anywhere.
 
And while Federer gets to play the same four venues year in and year out for his major events, Woods doesnt have that opportunity. Each year, aside from the Masters Tournament, he has to compete on different courses than the year before.
 
Imagine if the majors were contested annually as follows: Masters, Augusta National; U.S. Open, Bethpage Black; Open Championship, St. Andrews; PGA Championship, Medinah.
 
Woods might never lose another major ' at least not in medal play.
 
But in match play ... that might be a different story.
 
Without question, if golf was nothing but mano e mano, Woods would still be The Man. But I dont think his record would be as good as it would be ' has been ' in stroke play.
 
This isnt to denigrate what Woods has accomplished and is accomplishing. Its to show that there is someone out there in the world of sports who is not only doing what Tiger is doing ' but someone who is doing it even a little bit better (in my opinion).
 
Overall, in judging these two greats, I give a slight advantage to Federer. Call it: 6-7, 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 10-8. Or Federer in 38 holes.
 
I think it's tougher for Federer to win a tournament than it is for Woods. And, all things equal and golf being match play, I don't think Tiger would win as often as does Roger.
 
Tiger's record in the WGC-Match Play is 23-5 in seven appearances. That's really good. That's an 82-percent winning rate. But it's not 94 percent. Woods hasn't been nearly as dominant in the format as a professional as he was as an amateur.
 
And don't say that Tiger faces stiffer compeition than does Federer -- not when all we've been doing over the last decade is berating Woods' opponents.
 
In fact, these two are in a similar boat when it comes to comparing their respective levels of competition. Their excellence makes us feel as if they are competing against diluted fields. Theyre single malt scotch; everyone else is a splash of water.
 
Critics love to say that Tiger doesnt have to contend with an Arnold Palmer or Lee Trevino or Tom Watson, like Jack Nicklaus did. By the same token, they say that Federer doesnt have to deal with an in-his-prime Andre Agassi or Jim Courier or Boris Becker, like Pete Sampras did.
 
But whos to say that Woods wouldnt have beaten them all routinely, maybe even Nicklaus. And whos to say that Federer wouldnt have done the same, even to Sampras.
 
Well never know how Tiger would have fared against the legends of the past, just as we will never know the same about Federer.
 
But this we do know: they are far and away better than everyone against whom they are competing in the present. And, in modern individual sports, the only one comparable to one is the other.
 
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.