I dont think you have to hold the career record for most major championship victories to be considered the greatest golfer of all time. N Sync has outsold the Beatles, but I think the Fab 4 may actually come out ahead of the Faux 5 on some top-10 lists. The Jones-Nicklaus-Woods debate will rage on for decades and may never have a clear winner, but Jacks record is all the more impressive in light of Tigers recent drought.
Fourteen months ago, Tiger was ripping through majors like Anna Nicole Smith goes through a box of Krispy Kremes. He had won seven of the last 11 and it looked like a sure bet that Tiger would catch Jack, maybe even lap him. He had eight majors in his first six seasons, one better than The Bear.
Jack was majorless in seasons 7 and 8, but he broke his first significant major drought in style. A victory at the 1970 (British) Open Championship started a roll of four wins in eight majors.
Where championship golf is concerned, careers are short, and the climb is steep. Arnold Palmer won all of his majors in seven seasons, Jones and Hogan in eight. If Tiger is going to break the record he has sought since childhood, hell need all of the skill, patience, brains and concentration that hes displayed throughout his career. But hell also need luck avoiding injury and an uncommon longevity.
The major season on the PGA Tour has concluded, and now as we head towards golf's stretch run where questions such as, 'Who will win Player of the Year?' will be answered, here's another question that will be debated: Was this a great year for the PGA Tour?
Critics will point to the fact that all four winners at the majors all won the first major of their careers. Certainly this is not what any of us would have predicted in January, but I want us all to not look at this 2003 season as if it were an aberration that the 2004 campaign will need to wipe away with the return of the traditional powers rising up to reclaim their accustomed spots in the Sunday night interview tents of the bigger events.
No, let's enjoy 2003 as the 'year of the underdog,' complete with 'sweet Polly pure bread' being rescued at every major stop by some terrific shot making.
For the better known 'justice league' of big name performers, the gauntlet has been thrown down, and I'm betting that they will prep all winter long with visions of magnolias dancing in their heads. A 2003 not quite up to snuff? I say 2003 has set the stage for some of the best competition this great sport has ever seen.
Can a brother get a season-long ticket to enjoy the ride?
The PGA Championship was supposed to give us a firm answer to the question, Who is the PGA Tour Player of the Year?
It didnt as a matter of fact, it only confused the situation even more. One would have to guess at this stage, Mike Weir turned a few more heads just by contending at the PGA. But by not winning, everyones still very much in the mix.
Now wait a minute, Weir fans, before you lynch me. I know you think he has it wrapped up, but there is plenty of high-quality golf left on the schedule that could tip the scales: Tigers new tournament, the NEC, the AmEx and the Tour Championship. Perhaps it will come down to the wire in November.
The good news is, we have water-cooler talk for at least another three months. Argue all you want about whether the diversity of champions in 2003 is good or bad for the game, but one fact you cannot deny: the talent pool runs deep on the PGA Tour and the game is in very good hands.