Credit: Getty Images
In years past, it would be easy to envision a picture of a beaming Tiger hoisting some kind of trophy. But there aren't as many of those pictures anymore. And he's running out of time to create new ones. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Monday, Jul 23 at 2:45 PM
The last 16 PGA Tour majors have featured 16 different winners. Ernie Els' victory in yesterday's British Open not only made a case for the parity of the PGA Tour, but it also proved that Tiger Woods' quest for Jack Nicklaus' majors record is in extreme jeopardy.
As Woods struggled yesterday in the final round of The British Open, I couldn't help but feel like he was wasting a huge opportunity. Nobody could have predicted Adam Scott's meltdown, but the course was playing difficult enough that if Tiger could have hung around, he would have likely been in contention on the day's final holes. It's long been assumed that one of the main things pushing Tiger Woods was to set the all-time PGA Tour Major wins record. Tiger now finds himself at 14 major golf championships, just four back of Jack Nicklaus' mark (18).
Obviously, golf isn't like most sports, in which you can't really compete after the age of 40, but there are plenty of factors which lead me to believe that Tiger's persuit of Jack's record is unlikely to succeed.
The oldest golfer to win a major championship was Julius Boros, at the age of 48. Jack Nicklaus won his final major at 46, Hale Irwin in 1990 won at the age of 45, and Raymond Floyd was 43 when he collected his final win at a major.
Tiger is now 36, turning 37 in December. For hypothetical purposes, let's give him through the age of 50. Four majors per year, plus the one major left on this calendar would give him 57 opportunities before his 51st birthday.
Winning four of 57 seems pretty doable at first glance, but the evolving talent pool on the PGA Tour might be the largest firewall to Tiger's conquest to tie or break The Golden Bear's record. A combination of Tiger's regression, along with the progression of a young conglomerate of talented golfers make me doubt Tiger will be able to win four or five more majors.
If anyone can do it, Tiger would be the guy, but take a look at the list of the last 16 major champions:
2008: Padraig Harrington
2009: Angel Cabrera/Lucas Glover/Stewart Cink/Yang Yong-Eun
2010: Phil Mickelson/Graeme McDowell/Louis Oosthuizen/Martin Kaymer
2011: Charl Schwartzel/Rory McIlroy/Darren Clarke/Keegan Bradley
2012: Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson/Ernie Els
Those are your winners, since Tiger won his last won in 2008. Not on this list are a group of young and hungry golfers who have yet to win their first major. Adam Scott, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, the still very capable Sergio Garcia, ever-consistent Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter, Jason Dufner, Peter Hanson, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, and Justin Rose are all in different phases of their career, but are all poised and likely to be contenders in upcoming majors.
What once looked like a lock now almost looks doubtful. The most dominant athlete I've ever seen, aside from maybe Michael Jordan, is now in the same stratosphere as his competition. And time is no longer on his side.
I'm compelled. Are you?
Kevin Turner works at Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket, and is a card-carrying member of Team Having Fun. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach him on twitter at @KT1310. Kevin loves all of you.