Is the answer 48? Or 47?
Actually, its neither. The correct answer is 57.
Woods now has 47 wins ' which hasn't changed since his victory at San Diego a couple of weeks ago. But thats just PGA Tour and majors wins. His 10 other wins have come elsewhere.
Sunday was most assuredly a legitimate victory. It came in a playoff with Ernie Els. It came in a tournament with three of the worlds top 5 playing. It was as sparkling a field as perhaps half the U.S. tour events have.
And it will be as if Feb. 5, 2006, never existed. Thats a shame.
Watching the telecast, I was struck by the nonsense of it all. Woods received his appearance fee, granted. But the win wont count if he someday should approach Sam Sneads tour record of 82. And no organization or body in the world is charged with keeping such information.
Why did Woods go to Dubai? Their might be a dozen reasons why, but as a laymen, let me share with you what I would expect to be the reasons:
(1) His sponsors (American Express can do millions of dollars worth of business in the Middle East; Buick gets a shot of much-needed exposure east of the Atlantic; Nike likewise);
(2) The competition (this tournament always lures the best in non-American players; and at this point in his career, Woods is all about beating the best competition available);
(3) Appearance money (yes, this is a lesser factor, but still its important. Reports are that Woods received $2-3 million, in addition to his $400,000 winners check and an estimated $50,000 figure for jet fuel, etc.)
This was an important tournament on the world golf scene, and its a pity that it counts nothing on Tigers resume of events won here in the U.S. Its a European Tour event, and while the European Tour certainly isnt a trivial matter with the PGA Tour, the American tour is hardly ready to include victories on that circuit along with victories in the U.S. Goodness knows, it was only recently the PGA Tour recognized the British Open.
Tiger, of course, is hardly the only one affected by this. And for that matter, the European Tour doesnt count American wins on its list of victories, either.
Did you know that Seve Ballesteros had 50 wins on the European Tour? Five of those 50 make the American win list because they came in major championships ' two Masters and three British Opens. But if you want to know how great Seve was, you certainly wont know by just reading the American record books. Seve only gets credit for his wins in the majors, plus his four other U.S. victories ' Greensboro in 78, Westchester in 83 and 88, New Orleans in 85.
Ernie Els? Ernie is credited with having won 15 victories on the PGA Tour. But he has won 19 times in Europe, not counting his two U.S. Open victories and one British Open. And he has won 20 more times at other tournaments around the globe ' a total of 54 times.
All of these wins, of course, should not be considered equal to a PGA Tour win. Some wins are in minor events in a players home country. All the American wins arent counted, either. A Nationwide Tour event, for example, gets placed in a different category. And some of the foreign tour wins are against competition that would approximate what a Nationwide event would have.
The point is, though, that there should be a better way of recognizing a players victories - and by that I mean meaningful victories. Woods should be recognized for the win last weekend, certainly, as well as six or seven other international wins. If he comes close to Sneads victory total, the win at Dubai certainly should be included. But - it won't.
What should be the criteria? Who should be in charge of selecting what wins we should count? I dont know ' but someone, somewhere should have a method for recognizing wins that are of a competitive nature.
Did Greg Norman win only 20 times ' his number of PGA Tour wins plus majors? Or did he win 88 times, the number of wins in the U.S., PLUS international victories. Eighty-eight is too big a number, but if you consider that, say, 30 of his international wins were in important events, then youve reached in the neighborhood of 50.
Isnt it time that someone, some organization, compiled a list of meaningful victories? Isnt it time that we really could compare, say, Colin Montgomery to Fred Couples? Who has the better career?
Of course, we run into the age-old problem at some stage of the comparison ' trying to compare Sam Sneads victories to Tiger Woods is like trying to compare Babe Ruths home runs to Michael Jordans total points ' its nonsensical. But the human animal is all about comparisons. And wouldnt you like the playing field to be somewhat equal between players of the same sport?
Give Tiger the win. And give Chris DiMarco credit for winning in Abu Dhabi this month. Come up with a way to add ALL the victories together, not just victories from this tour or that tour. Golf has become global. Lets have statistics that are global.
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