How legitimate is Woods record? Very legitimate, as it develops.
Back in Nelsons day, a cut was considered in the money, and in the money oftentimes was just the top 20. Nelson finished no lower than a tie for 17th in the years he was compiling the 113. Woods most often has played under rules which state a cut is top 70 and ties, or top 60 and ties, and you can argue that his record isnt that comparable until you are red, purple and blue in the face. But dont make the no-cuts a part of the 114 equation.
The 23 no-cuts are pretty cut-and-dried as to their difficulty. They are the tournaments played by the games best players, some events as high as 64 participants (WGC-Accenture), some 50 or so (WGC-AmEx, WGC-NEC), some just 30 (Tour Championship) or around 30 (Mercedes Championships). All, however, are reserved for the cream of the crop. So he has had to face stringent competition in each of the 23.
This week Woods plays in his 24th. But of the other 23, he has won nine ' better than a one-in-three ratio. He has finished in the top 10 in 11 others. That makes 20 of 23 that he has finished in the top 10. Included in the misses is the 2001 Tour Championship, where he finished tied for 13th.
The other two are iffy. In 2002 he lost a first-round match in the WGC-Accenture Match Play to Peter OMalley. Should that count as a cut missed?
Well, not so quickly ' at worst he would have been somewhere in the bottom half of a 64-player field after THE FIRST DAY. He didnt play particularly poorly ' better, in fact, than some of the first-round winners. Of course, they dont keep hole-by-hole scores in match play, so it would have been impossible to give Woods a score. He only played 17 holes and was beaten, 2 and 1. But I would have to give him the nod on this one, strictly because he still would have had another day to recover.
The other instance, Woods was in definite trouble. At the 1998 Tour Championship, he was in last place after two rounds (normally cut day) with a 75-76 score. He had nary a birdie en route to his 11-over-par score .
The only excuse you can give him is that it WAS the Tour Championship, and had it been a regular tour event, there MIGHT have been a lot of players underneath him ' highly unlikely considering his score, but I guess possible.
At any rate, a missed cut there would have set him back 18 events ' from the time he first started the streak until after the Tour Championship that year. But since that little unpleasantness in 98, I really cant find an event that is a definite ' or even likely ' missed cut.
Say, for arguments sake, that his record is now 96, going back to that errant performance in the 98 Tour Championship. That would leave him still a year shy of the record.
OK, but what of Nelsons mark? To knock Byron's record in any way is to knock him personally, and that certainly is not intended. He played 'em all, teed it up come Hades or high water, and he succeeded admirably But his record surely includes two or three events where there was very little competition. Woods, it should again be noted, played the 1998 Tour Championship against the 29 other best players on the PGA Tour.
What, though, can be gained by trying to compare records which are some 60 years apart? Nothing - there is no way possible they can be compared. They are two distinctly different records, with different rules about where the 'cuts' are made - in fact, they aren't even remotely similar.
I count 14 non-PGA Tour events that Woods has played since 1998 - events where he played by himself and with at least 12 players. Only the New Zealand Open in 2002 is a little dicey, and even then he had some pretty good Australian and Asian competition. The competition in the 14 tournaments was surely as good as a few that Nelson faced. So, as long as we're dealing in 'what-ifs' here - add 14 to the 96 total since the '98 Tour Championship and you have 110. I'll say - that is almost 114 - the record!
Incidentally, Tiger has missed only one cut his entire career ' the 1997 Canadian Open, where he bogeyed three of the last four holes to miss by one. But his streak doesn't begin there - it officially begins with the 1998 Pebble Beach event. That was the tournament that was rained out during El Nino and finished in August. He decided to skip the completion and he wasnt charged with a missed cut, but a withdrawal.
Would it have been a missed cut if he had followed protocol and reported for the windup? Yes, quite likely. When play was interrupted in February until Aug.. 17, he was 14 shots off the lead at 76-72-148. If it were a 36-hole cut, he would be out the door hat in hand.
It's a little easier with those (no-cut) events in there, said Davis Love III. But it's obviously five times more than anybody else currently. So it's a pretty incredible record. I think in this day and age with the exposure and the depth of field, it's probably a better record than anybody else has ever put up in cuts.
So 113 events have come and gone, a few with Tiger scrapping to get by until Saturday and Sunday. Love said there are some few players ' Woods is obviously one ' who put a premium on playing on the weekends.
It's obviously a pride thing with some people like Tiger that, I'm just not going to miss a cut, or, I'm not going to give in. I'm not going to just mail it in on Sunday. I'm going to shoot the best round of the day or something, said Love.
I don't think he ever considers letting up from winning, either. We always feel like you make the cut, you can still win. Obviously maybe not in Vegas, but in a lot of places you can make the cut and still win the golf tournament if you play good. It's been done quite a bit. So I think that's just part of his nature, of why he's so good, is he doesn't want to give up - no matter what.
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