Is this TigerMania III, IV, V.MCMVII?
Frankly, Ive lost track. But I havent lost interest.
Tiger Woods won his sixth straight tournament, sanctioned by the PGA TOUR, outside of London Sunday. His margin of victory was eight shots.
If he wins his next five, Woods will tie the thought-to-be unreachable mark of 11 consecutive victories set by the late Byron Nelson in 1945. The closer Woods gets to Nelsons record, the more attention Woods streak will gain.
For his part, Woods is downplaying all the fuss. He says because he lost in a non-sanctioned match play event in England the week before last months Ryder Cup there is no streak. Part of me says this insistence on his part is out of respect for Nelson who passed away in Texas last week at the age of 94.
The inarguable part is the quality of Woods play during this latest run. There will be critics who say there is a competitive imbalance at the top level of the game. I say they miss the point.
Woods isnt as dominant yet again as he was in 2000 when he won the U.S. and British Opens by a combined total of 23 shots. But this latest stretch of excellence, that actually began with a second place finish at the Cialis Western Open in early July, has displayed a more controlled and versatile Woods, at 30, than we have previously seen.
This is the state of the art in golf. It is Jordan in his prime, Montana in a Super Bowl, Ali in his 20s. It is as good as it gets. The stats are everywhere you want to find them.
Woods has now won 54 PGA events in 200 tries since he turned professional in late 1996. Thats a winning percentage of close to 27 per cent. Jack Nicklaus, the man whose record of 18 professional majors Woods is chasing, had a career winning percentage of less than half of Woods rate.
To try and put 54 of 200, in golf, in perspective, it would be like a major league baseball player hitting, say, .430 for the first 10 years of his career. Unfathomable, really.
But its happening right in front of our eyes. In WGC events alone, Woods has won 12 of 22. His earnings in those events exceed 15 million dollars, almost two million more than Greg Norman won in his entire PGA career.
By the way, anybody out there who still thinks instructor Hank Haney has hurt Woods game?
Nelson respected Woods talent and his work ethic. I think he would have been proud to be the man who owned the last remaining record that nobody, not even Woods, was supposed to be able to break.
Tiger Woods may not consider his streak to be alive. In fact, it is against his personal philosophy to look past the next event, the next round, the next shot.
But like it or not, a new wave of TigerMania is upon us. Tiger Woods has found a new gear. If golf is important to you in any way shape or form, dont take your eyes off of him. We may never see anything like this again.
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