Tiger Woods A Cut Above Part 2

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This is the second in a two-part series on Tiger Woods trying to tie Byron Nelsons PGA Tour record for consecutive cuts made. Read Part 1
 
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. ' Assuming Tiger Woods does this week what he has done 112 straight times before, he will tie Byron Nelsons PGA Tour record of consecutive events played without missing a cut.
 
This would be No. 113, and No. 114 would be assured as Tigers next scheduled tournament is the Tour Championship, where there is no cut.
 
Officially, Woods is one away from tying Nelson ' in terms of most consecutive events played without missing a cut. But in terms of consecutive events played in which he has made the cut, he ranks third in tour history.
 
Woods has actually made 89 consecutive cuts on tour, in events that actually have a cut to be made.
 
Jack Nicklaus is second at 105 (from the Sahara Open in November of 1970 through the World Series of Golf in September, 1976). His streak included 10 tournaments that didnt have a cut.
 
And, of course, Nelson is No. 1.
 
It has been speculated that Ben Hogan may have made 177 consecutive cuts. But the tour cannot confirm this and, therefore, does not recognize it.
 
For the record, Tiger has already surpassed Nicklaus and is now on a numbers collision course with Nelson. The two paths, separated by nearly six decades, appear destined to meet at a crossroad, and they are as fundamentally different as they are equally impressive.
 
It's so difficult to compare the three eras, Woods said in reference to his, Nelsons and Nicklaus times. You're going to have bad tournaments, bad weeks where you just don't hit the ball well, and they somehow figured out a way to score and get it done. That's what makes them champions.
 
Nelsons streak started with the 1941 Bing Crosby Pro-Am and almost never came to an end. He stopped playing a full schedule in 1946, and competed only three times over the next two seasons.
 
The run officially concluded when he returned to Pebble Beach in 1949 and finished out of the money. In Nelsons day, making the cut meant making money. And making money meant finishing inside the top 20, or thereabouts, in most events.
 
Where Woods could finish tied for 56th in the 1999 Bay Hill Invitational and keep alive his streak, Nelson had no such opportunity. In fact, during his run Nelson never finished lower than a tie for 17th.
 
Nelson needed such high finishes, sometimes just to offset travel expenses. He certainly didnt have Tigers luxury to pick and choose tournaments. And he certainly didnt have Tigers good fortune not to need the money.
 
But, by contrast, Woods streak, while it may include tournaments without cuts and events where he snuck inside the top 70 after two rounds, was fostered against stronger and deeper fields.
 
Sam Snead and Ben Hogan were serving in the military during much of Nelsons streak.
 
Woods has also faced greater media scrutiny. And dont forget the fact that hes never missed the cut overseas either.
 
Whether you view Tigers mark at 89 or 112, it is still far and away greater than anything else any of his peers have been able to produce.
 
Vijay Singh has been Woods closest modern-day counterpart when it comes to consistency. After finally missing the cut in the 1998 Masters to end his streak at 53, he followed with 18 straight cuts made.
 
Over the last seven years, he has averaged only two missed cuts per season. This year hes missed but one (Players Championship), which is still one more than Woods.
 
If you start thinking about it, its hard, said Singh. If youre playing well you dont think about the cut. And Tigers been playing well for a while.
 
Ernie Els is currently second behind Woods in events played on tour without missing a cut. He is 15-for-15 this season, and hasnt missed a cut in 26 straight tournaments, dating back to 2002.
 
He once went 28 straight events, from late 1999 to early 2001, without missing a weekend round on the tour. He has made 156 cuts in 182 career events, good for an 85.7-percent success rate.
 
Jim Furyk is another modern model of consistency. He has cashed a paycheck in over 80 percent of the events he has played on tour, making 23 of 25 cuts this season.
 
I think what Tiger has done is fantastic considering that hes played against very deep, very big fields, he said. It only takes a bad day, one bad round of 75, 76 to push you out of the cut line, and he just seems to be very consistent and seems to fight through it when hes playing poorly and gets it done.
 
He doesnt quit, Furyk added. It is important for him to show up and play his best every week, even when hes not playing well.
 
Singhs career cuts-made percentage on tour is 89.8; Davis Love III 80.9 percent; Phil Mickelson 80.1 percent; Sergio Garcia 77.9 percent; Mike Weir 71.4 percent.
 
David Duvals career cuts-made percentage was at 80.3 prior to the last two seasons. It is now at 73.4.
 
Greg Norman made 204 cuts in 221 tour starts, from 1979 to 1995, for a 92.3 percentage. He averaged about one missed cut per season during that stretch.
 
Jack Nicklaus made 425 cuts in 442 events, from his rookie season of 1962 to 1985, for a 96.1 percentage during that time.
 
These are all remarkable numbers, but, based solely on percentages, Woods is King Cut.
 
As a professional, he has played in 143 events and made 141 cuts ' a 98.6 percent success rate. Of course, that includes tournaments like the three World Golf Championship events, the Mercedes Championships and the Tour Championship ' events without a cut.
 
That makes it a little different, said Bob Burns, the defending champion of this weeks Disney event. I am not taking anything away from him. Obviously he doesnt have any trouble making cuts in the full-field tournaments either.
 
But even without the credit of those events, he is still good for 113 cuts made out of 115 events with a cut. That decreases his success rate to all of 98.2 percent.
 
Burns, who has been playing the tour regularly the last five years, has never gone longer than eight straight tournaments without missing a cut. He knows how difficult consistency is to maintain on the PGA Tour, and laughed when asked if he could comprehend someone making 113 consecutive cuts.
 
I cant, he said. Thats pretty amazing.
 
Amazing is exactly how Nelson perceives what he and Woods have accomplished. He has said that he holds this particular streak in higher regard than winning 11 consecutive tournaments in 1945.
 
Woods, too, will speak of pride in the accomplishment, but the true expression is seen on the Fridays of those select events where he didnt have it, but managed to survive to another day.
 
I dont ever bag it. You have to fight. There are days when you feel terrible and you wish you were in other places, because youre playing so poorly. You have to somehow figure out a way to score, and thats the name of the game, he said.
 
If you can just get to the weekend, you can still go low and win.
 
Woods has twice won at Disney, but that doesnt guarantee him a spot in the weekend rotation this time around.
 
Last year, Chris DiMarco held the 36-hole lead at 17-under par; the cut line fell at 6 under. Woods loathes a shoot-out, and would much rather grind his way into weekend position.
 
I do not like them. Ive never liked them, never will, he said of low-scoring tournaments. It doesnt really reward good ball striking; its just a putting contest.
 
But this is home, and his track record in this track meet is quite impressive. And while he never enters an event thinking about just making the cut, it is on his mind this week. He respects the significance of this record, and knows that it will likely be his for even longer than it belonged to Nelson.
 
All it takes is one bad day, or inclement weather, injury, a WD (withdrawal), and youre out of there, all of a sudden the cut (streak) is over, he said.
 
Its consistency. You have to be consistent. And thats what Im most proud of.
 
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs at mbaggs@golfchannel.com