RENSLOW: Golf’s newest stars are great, but they’re not Tiger
We want to watch the best. For the football fans, does it pique your interest when the Cleveland vs. Jacksonville game is announced? Or, could it be that the Patriot vs. Cowboy game would take center stage?
For the last few years, our game has been absent one of golf’s greats, if not the greatest. During that time, we have witnessed some remarkable performances. A new set of names have come to the forefront, with each player taking their turn in the spotlight.
Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, and, of course, Phil Mickelson continues to be in the mix when the schedule suits his fancy. Today, we have Hideki Matsuyama on an amazing run with four wins in his last five events.
Yet, within all of this fabulous play, no one is regarding these players as ‘the best ever.’ Please don’t misunderstand, their play puts them in select company, but to continue the football parallel, it goes the way of Steve Young or Jim Plunkett. Great play, for a time, but not all-time.
Whether through personal drama or personal injury, Tiger Woods has been absent for quite some time. We remember that he seemed to be the story week in and week out, but it’s been so long, we may not recall just how dominant he was.
In one stretch, Tiger Woods made 142 consecutive cuts on Tour. This streak began in 1998 and ended in 2005. He made the cut in every PGA Tour event he played for over six years. The next closest streak was 113 by Byron Nelson, 60 years earlier.
He has won 79 times. In one five-year stretch he won 32 times (with a minimum of five wins per year) and in another four-year period he won 25 more times. To put this in perspective, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, and Jason Day have not seen five wins in one year. Jordan Spieth won five times in 2015, yet followed this up with two in 2016.
Even those who would compete against him every week know how much he means to the game. Prior to last year’s Ryder Cup, where a still recuperating Tiger served as vice-captain. The team of today’s marquee players hosted a special event for him and provided him with a uniquely logoed t-shirt “Make Tiger Great Again” (please don’t forget golf is apolitical).
Tiger played his first event of the year a couple of weeks ago. It would be unreasonable to expect a full recovery with this return to competition, but he had solid start with a bogey-free round of 65.
Following the holidays, we will likely see him play Torrey Pines (San Diego), Pebble Beach (Monterey) and Riveria (Los Angeles).
Will the Tiger we knew ever return to the level that made him one of the best, if not the best? It’s early. But, for those who love the game and enjoy watching the top players compete, it would be great for the game to see Tiger great again.
John Renslow is a PGA Class A Professional and Instructor at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at email@example.com.
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