The world of golf was treated to another dramatic display of eighteenth hole excitement by the worlds best golfer on Sunday. Tiger Woods did it again by dropping a putt in for birdie on the last hole of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It seems that Tiger has done this so often that we all expect it. He is favored in each tournament and it is almost shocking when Tiger does not win.
There is much debate whether Woods or Jack Nicklaus is the most dominant golfer in history. It may appear that Woods is, but Nicklaus still has won more major tournaments and many that saw Nicklaus in his prime are not convinced that Woods is as dominant as Jack was. There is a belief that Tiger does not have the same quality of competition that Nicklaus had to face. Nicklaus had to deal with Palmer, Player, Trevino and Watson. No current golfer appears to be of the stature of those legends. Maybe over the next few years they will distinguish themselves further.
In a study of their major wins, the results may be closer than many think. Tiger won his first major in 1997, The Masters, in his second year on tour. Jack first win was the 1962 US Open. In those twelve years after their first major win their results are surprising close.
From 1962 to 1973 Nicklaus won twelve majors. From 1997 to 2008 Woods won fourteen majors. The total major wins of their competitors was also close.
Woods had six men win multiple majors during those years. Mickelson, Harrington and Singh won three majors each. Goosen, O’Meara and Els had two majors. There were seventeen men that had one major win each.
Nicklaus had five men win multiple majors. Trevino had four, Player and Palmer had three, Jacklin and Boros had two each. There were twenty-one players that won one major.
So, Woods has six players that won fifteen majors. Nicklaus had five players win fourteen majors. There were more single major winners during Nicklaus’s years.
During that same time period, Nicklaus had a total of 52 PGA Tour wins; Woods had a total of 63 PGA wins.
Overall it would appear that the competition may be closer then first thought. Woods has a significant advantage in regular PGA Tour wins but the major win total is relatively close. The quality of the competition that won majors during that time is very close also.
It may be difficult to come to a determination of the more dominant golfer but two things are certain: the debate will continue and Woods will win a few more majors.
Nicklaus 12 Wins 1962-1972 Woods 14 Wins 1997-2008
Trevino 4 Wins Mickelson 3 Wins
Player 3 Harrington 3
Palmer 3 Singh 3
Jacklin 2 Goosen 2
Boros 2 O’Meara 2