From: Subject: Date: April 21, 2005 3:53:51 PM CDT Hankblog: Tiger by the tail

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Tiger by the tail

I don't think there's been another athlete in my lifetime celebrated as much as Tiger Woods. Michael Jordan is comparable, but Woods wasn't even nineteen when he started making the covers of magazines and such. I think when Tiger's had his day, the number of words printed about him will be double or triple that written about Jordan.

That much can pretty much be a given considering what Tiger did at Augusta National today:

Tiger Woods is The Masters champion once again, turning back a surprising challenge Sunday with a shot of sheer magic and a birdie putt to win a playoff he never expected.

A spectacular finish of birdies and bogeys finally ended when Woods produced the most important shot of all -- a 15-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to capture his fourth green jacket and finally put away the gritty Chris DiMarco.
To say what Tiger is doing in his sport is unprecedented is underselling his accomplishments, possibly by an order of magnitude. Look at the boxed info on the link above, as to the number of major tournaments in a career the top golfers have won. Nicklaus is 65 and retiring after this year. Hagen and Hogan have long since passed away. Player, who's tied with Tiger, is 69. Tom Watson, one major behind Tiger, is 55.

Tiger is a comparative pup at 29. He is averaging a Major per year in his career as a professional, and that's with a three year drought between his win today and the last one (the US Open in 2002). Let's assume he plays as long as Nicklaus, who is his idol. Also assume wins majors at half his current pace. He'd finish with 27 Major titles, 33 percent more than arguably the greatest player to play the game before Tiger.

Behold the power of the cablanasian.

In all seriousness, as great a player as Jordan was within his sport, I think that Tiger exceeds him in career accomplishments already. By the time he's done, he will rank amongst Jordan and Muhammad Ali as the most notable American athletes of all time. As a sports fan, I find that beyond description.

Let's see if he can show us all and get the other three Majors this year. On to Pinehurst.