THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – One of the never-ending, unanswerable debates in sports is whether today’s competition is tougher than that of previous generations. It’s an especially popular topic in golf, where win totals and major titles are viewed under such a microscope.
But such evolving doesn’t always have to compare generations.
On Wednesday, Tiger Woods was asked whether the competition was tougher 10-15 years ago – when the likes of David Duval, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen were his main rivals – or now, with 21 different players having captured the last 24 major championships, dating back to 2008.
“I think it's deeper now than it ever has been,” Woods said. “There is more young talent. There are more guys winning golf tournaments for the first time. But if you look at the major championships, how long did we go from basically Phil winning [to] Phil winning? I mean, how many first time winners did we have during that stretch? It's deeper. It's more difficult to win events now, and it's only going to get that way.
“As equipment has certainly narrowed the gap quite a bit from the elite ball strikers. Guys that can really hit the golf ball back in the persimmon days and balata balls moving all over the place. You see more young players throw the ball straight in the air and are very shocked to see the ball get moved by the wind. For a lot of us who grew up playing balata balls, you wanted to get that thing down. You didn't want it up in that wind, because it got pushed around like you wouldn't believe.
“It's a totally different game. Guys have evolved, and I think have become much more aggressive now than they ever used to be because of equipment.”