Some Twitter comedian observed that Tiger Woods apparently retained ownership of Sergio Garcia in his pre-nup with Elin. That's harsh, but this much remains clear: Even after his perceived struggles of the last few major-less seasons, Tiger is far more prepared for the big moment than Garcia.
Fourteen years after their memorable duel at the 1999 PGA Championship, their respective careers have taken wildly divergent paths. After yesterday's win at The Players Championship, Woods now has 78 career PGA Tour wins. Sergio has had his moments — eight Tour wins, 10 Euro wins, various Ryder Cup heroics — but did anyone really think that Sergio would survive the 17-18 gauntlet yesterday? The golf gods simple weren't going to allow it, especially after Garcia's Saturday whining about Tiger distracting him.
The amazing numbers from the weekend's festivities:
4 With the win, Tiger Woods is only four wins behind all-time PGA Tour wins leader Sam Snead, who won his final Tour event at age 52. Tiger is 37. I think he has time to get there.
13Garcia required 13 shots to navigate the final two holes at TPC Sawgrass, following up his quad at 17 with a double-bogey 6 at 18, where he rinsed another ball.
12 The win was Woods' fourth of the 2013 season, marking the 12th season of his career with four wins or more. Think about that: For most players, four wins denotes a career-making year. Tiger's had 12 of them.
53-4 Woods ran his career record to 53-4 when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead. He's the Mariano Rivera of golfers; give him the lead, and it's Enter Sandman.
300Woods won the 300th start of his career. He also won the 100th and 200th starts of his career. Tiger apparently likes round numbers.
26Tiger has now won 26 percent of his career PGA Tour starts. More than a quarter of the time he's teed it up, he's won. For reference, after his 300th start, Jack Nicklaus had 54 wins, a winning percentage of .180.
+13 The day was not without drama, thanks largely to Woods' double bogey at 14. For his career, Woods is 13-over par on that hole.
10 TPC Sawgrass has historically not been terribly friendly to Tiger. This year marked the first time in 10 years that Woods completed four par-or-better rounds in one Players.
4Woods has his fourth victory, and it's only May 13. It's the earliest in a season that Woods has ever earned his fourth win.
3.25 Yesterday, the infamous par-3 17th claimed its share of victims. Players navigated the 137-yard hole in an average of 3.25 strokes on Sunday, the highest of the week. On Thursday, the average was 3.08; on Friday, 2.97; and on Saturday, 3.03. Of course, Sergio's 7 at the hole skews the Sunday average slightly.
Adam Scott came painfully close to winning last year's British Open before an epic Sunday meltdown.
Most golfers would rather be the worst player ever to win a major championship than to be given the title of “best player never to win a major.”
Sure, the BPNTWAM post was most famously held by Phil Mickelson, who was a 33-year-old with 22 PGA Tour wins, 46 major appearances and 17 top-10 finishes in majors before finally breaking through at the 2004 Masters. Lefty is now a four-time major champion, and his days as BPNTWAM are a distant memory from another era.
Tiger Woods made headlines this week when he uttered the word "unplayable" in reference to some of the rough at Royal Lytham. So how tough is the course? An unusual amount of rain — even for England — has added extra thickness and gnarliness to the deep stuff, and when you throw in the penal pot bunkers, players will need an extra level of precision, particularly from the tee. Bottom line: As one writer described it, Royal Lytham is a beast, but a just beast, and will produce a worthy champion.
How will the marquee group perform?
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For the first two rounds, Tiger Woods (No. 4 in the world) will be playing with Justin Rose (No. 9) and Sergio Garcia (No. 23). Tiger has called the British Open his favorite major, and there's no doubt that he wants this tournament desperately, having gone more than four years without a major title. But Sergio is the wild card. His game has shown signs of life — he hasn't missed a cut in more than a year — and the British Open has historically been his best major (seven top 10s, including a second). Maybe the golf gods will finally smile on him. Doubtful, but possible.
Will Duval make the cut?
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The last time the Open Championship came to Royal Lytham & St Annes, David Duval won the first and last major championship of his career. For a guy who was once the No. 1 player in the world, that lone major title seems a long time ago. The winner of the 1999 Players Championship, Duval ascended to the No. 1 ranking, then two years later won the British Open at Royal Lytham. That happens to be the last of his 13 PGA Tour titles. Duval will be at Royal Lytham again, a perk of hoisting the Claret Jug. But will he even make the cut? This season alone, Duval has missed 10 cuts in 13 events; in Tiger Woods' entire career, Woods has missed nine. Signs for Duval aren't trending in the right direction.
Will an Englishman finally win?
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The last Englishman to kiss the Claret Jug: Nick Faldo, in 1992. Coming into this year's Open, two of the top three golfers in the World Golf Rankings will carry the banner of St. George's Cross, and they'll feel the considerable weight of their countrymen's expectations. World No. 1 Luke Donald will be feeling the most pressure; his lack of success in majors, particularly his nation's championship (he has one top 10 in 11 appearances and missed the cut last year), has fans questioning his major mettle. Lee Westwood, meanwhile, has many more close calls on his resume, but like Donald, he missed the cut at the Open in 2011.
Who'll kiss the jug on Sunday?
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It's tempting to pick a wild card, like Dustin Johnson, who was a wayward 4-iron from challenging for the win last year; Zach Johnson, the game's best putter right now; or Rickie Fowler, who has the talent and also has that elusive first win under his belt. Then there are the resurgent veterans, like Padraig Harrington; the perennial short-listers, like Phil Mickelson; and those seeking that career-defining win, like Westwood, Donald, Garcia, Steve Stricker, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter. But we'll go with the bookmakers' choice and pick Tiger, who is taking a thoughtful, veteran approach this week and looks ready to return the major winner's circle.
From Tiger to Furyk, Athlon Announces the 20 Golfers to Watch for Majors Season
Now that it's Masters week, it's time to decide who this year's major players will be, and we've done that for you. They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2012 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Throughout the month of March, we unveiled Athlon Sports’ 20 players to follow for majors season, with commentary on each from the Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee.
Anthony Kim was close to the hole. (Just the wrong hole.)
Sergio Garcia Hits A Photographer
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Sergio hates photographers. Or at least he hates photographer's heads by the sound of it.
Charles Barkley Hits A Spectator
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If you've ever seen Charles Barkley's swing, you would know that standing within 200 yards of him is a dangerous place to stand.
Tiger Hits A Guy In A Red Hat
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Tiger tees off and then boom! The guy in the red hat didn't see it coming. Sniper!
Bubba Hits A Fan
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This is why I would never attend a pro-am golf tournament. (Side note: The woman off-camera really seemed to enjoy watching someone almost get killed by Bubba's golf ball.)
Stewart Cink Draws Blood
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The best part of these video is the quiet, hushed tones of the golf commentators broken up by the loud, "Oooh!" Gets me every time. And then he mentions how the players hate when that happens. You also know who else hates when that happens? The guy with blood running down his face because he just got hit in the head with a golf ball.
Woman Takes One For The Team
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Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! I mean, down goes the lady! Down goes the lady!
Putt Putt Knockout
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This one is probably fake since there's an ad at the end, but that only makes it OK to laugh.