Who are the best young professional athletes in all of sports?
To suggest that any player in any sport after just a few seasons is a lock to make the Hall of Fame is ridiculous. But it is always fun to look at athletes who have had instant success and try to extrapolate long-term potential.
Woods Has Work to Do in Majors, but He's Far Ahead in Wins
Through last month's Masters, the 37-year-old Tiger Woods has 14 wins in 63 major championship starts as a professional; through the 1977 Masters, the 37-year-old Nicklaus had 14 wins in 61 major championship starts as a professional.
That's some amazing career symmetry right there, but it seems appropriate, given that Tiger came out of the gate with Nicklaus' major championship record as his ultimate target.
For a long time, Woods was well ahead of Nicklaus' career pace, but a drought that is nearing five years in duration has put a serious dent in Tiger's major aspirations. Of course, Nicklaus won his last major at age 46, giving Woods nine more years of viability on the major championship scene, a reasonable assumption considering the similarity of their career trajectories.
Here are the final four majors of Nicklaus' career, all of which came at age 38 and beyond:
1978 British Open (age 38)
1980 U.S. Open (age 40)
1980 PGA Championship (age 40)
1986 Masters (age 46)
Woods turns 46 in December 2021. Between now and then, there will be 36 major championships contested; Woods needs to win five of them to reach his career Holy Grail of 19 major championships.
Of course, Tiger has already moved well past Nicklaus into second on the Tour's all-time wins ledger. Tiger trails only Sam Snead, who won 82 times over a 30-year span; Woods has crammed his 78 wins into 17-plus stellar, occasionally storm-tossed seasons on Tour.
Jack thinks he'll do it. "I still think he'll break my record," Nicklaus said during the Honda Classic. "Tiger's talent, at 37 ... it's not that old. I won four after that. They were spread out. It wasn't that difficult. I don't think for Tiger to get four or five more — or six or seven — is that big a stretch.
"But that said, he has still got to do it. He hasn't won one in five years. He had better get with it if he's going to."
So let's look at the two legends — Tiger today, and Nicklaus at a similar point in his career.
Bottom line from the data presented here: Tiger's building the better overall career, but Jack remains the greatest performer in major championship history. That's the carrot that Tiger is still chasing, and he has time to get there.
Tiger Woods Jack Nicklaus Tournaments won(through 300 starts) 77 54 Tournament winning % (300 starts) 26.0 18.0 Majors won(first 63 starts) 14 14 Major winning % 22.2 22.2 Major top 5s 31 41 Major top 10s 37 48 Longest streak of top-5 in majors 6 7 Longest streak of top-10 in majors 8 13 Lowest scoring avg. 8 times 8 times Money leader 9 times 8 times
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.
Tiger Woods shot a 2-under-70 in the final round on Sunday to win The Players Championship for his 78th career victory, leaving him just four shy of tying Sam Snead for the all-time PGA Tour record. Woods overcame a hooked tee shot on the 14th hole that found water, resulting in a double-bogey and four-way tie for first, to shoot one-under over the final four holes for what ended up being a two-shot victory. It was the second Players title in his career and also his second win on Mother's Day (1998 Bell South Classic).
What are the best jobs in sports broadcasting today?
If you could have any national sports broadcasting job in sports, what would it be? Do you want to be at the games and travel all over the country? Do you want to be a studio host with a more stable work schedule? Do you want to become extremely popular in one niche field or cover a wide range of all sports? Are ratings more important than content?
There are many different ways to value sports broadcasting jobs, but Athlon Sports has tried to rank the best national sports broadcasting jobs in the industry today.
From Drivers to Wedges to Sunglasses, Here's What's Hot
Many golfers are tinkerers and toy collectors. They love new gadgets and gizmos. Anything that promises to improve their game — or make their lives simpler on the course — is worth exploring. Fashion — with the advent of fitness in the Tiger Woods era — has become an important aspect of golf as well. The bright colors worn by Ian Poulter, Rickie Fowler and John Daly pop on the TV screen and have inspired a legion of sartorial followers. If you can’t play like the pros, at least you can dress like them.
Adam Scott became the first Australian to win The Masters with a birdie on the second playoff hole late Sunday. Scott, 32, shot a 3-under 69 in the final round, including a clutch 20-foot birdie putt amdist the rain drops on the 18th hole to force the playoff with Argentina's Angel Cabrera, who matched Scott with his own impressive birdie on the final hole to tie him at 9-under 279. Both made par on the first playoff hole, No. 18, before moving on to No. 10 where Scott had caddie Steve Williams read the 12-foot putt that forever changed his life.
CBS broadcast Ian Baker-Finch summed it up for his elated countrymen: From Down Under to the top of the world.
Adam Scott has his long-awaited first major, and Australia has its long-awaited first Masters, all on the strength of an anchored putter that for much of Masters Sunday had been nothing but dead weight for Scott.
"To make a couple of putts to win The Masters is just an amazing feeling," Scott said in Butler Cabin.