Tiger Woods’ career has been full of firsts; he was the first to finish a US Open at double-digits under par, the first to win all 4 major championships in a row, etc. Sunday he won the first ever PGA Tour sanctioned event in Japan, the ZOZO Championship. But this isn’t about firsts. It’s about 82. 82 career PGA Tour wins ties him with Sam Snead for the most all-time. Many thought Tiger would never win again. Then he won the 2018 Tour Championship. Many thought he’d never win another major. Then he won the 2019 Masters. Many thought he’d never tie Snead. 23 years ago to the month, Tiger won his first at the then Las Vegas Invitational. My how the game has changed since. Let’s take a look at the numbers shall we, and start where it all began……
- Dolly, the first ever cloned sheep, was born
- Bill Clinton was re-elected as President of the United States
- Fox News channel debuted
- Pokémon was created
- The #1 song was “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt
- “Braveheart” won the Oscar for best film
- Rapper Tupac Shakur was murdered
- Minimum wage was $4.75 in the US
- The Compaq Presario desktop computer cost $2,000.00
- Everyone was doing the Macarena
- Ages of Tiger’s present-day peers (rivals) when he won in ’96: Rory McIlroy 7, Brooks Koepka 6, Jordan Spieth 3, Justin Thomas 3, Phil Mickelson 26
- A round at Pebble Beach cost $320. Today it costs $550.
- Tiger’s winning check in Vegas: $297,000. He won $1.7 million for winning the ZOZO Championship.
- Tom Lehman was the season’s money leader with $1.7 million. Today, $1.7 million places you at 64th.
Numbers among the 82 wins
Tiger has won 23% of his starts, and has finished in the top-10 more than half the time (55%). Ben Hogan is the only player with at least 200 career starts to win more than 20% of the time.
Tiger is 25 of 25 when leading by 3 or more strokes after 3 rounds (100%). He is 11 of 12 when leading by 1 (92%), and 8 of 9 when leading by 2 (89%).
Sam Snead was 52 when he won his 82nd title at the 1965 Wyndham Championship. Tiger is 43.
Tiger is 11-1 in playoffs. His only loss came to Billy Mayfair at the 1998 Nissan Open. It’s the closest he has ever been to winning at Riviera CC, where he made his pro debut as a 16 year old in 1992. Ironically, it’s the only event Tiger has never won where he has played 4 or more times.
Wins by swing coach: Butch Harmon – 3 US Amateurs, 8 majors, 34 wins. Hank Haney – 6 majors, 31 wins. Sean Foley – 9 wins. Chris Como – 0 wins, but Tiger was injured most of their 3 year tenure together. Matt Killen has helped Tiger with his putting this year, but he has gone at it alone when it comes to his full swing.
Wins by caddie: Mike “Fluff” Cowan – 8 wins, 1 major. Steve Williams – 63 wins, 13 majors. Joe LaCava – 11 wins, 1 major.
46 wins have come in his 20’s. That would put him 7th on the all-time list.
33 wins have come in his 30’s.
3 wins have come in his 40’s.
Tiger has won 18 World Golf Championships. Dustin Johnson is 2nd with six.
Tiger has had 10 seasons where he won at least 5 times.
There are 7 events Tiger has won at least 5 times each.
Ernie Els and Vijay Singh have finished runner-up to Woods 5 times each. Phil Mickelson has done it 4 times.
Tiger has won in 16 different states, with the most wins being in Florida (16).
His longest winning streak is 7 tournaments in a row (2006-2007).
They say history loves company, but I’m not sure Tiger does. Win #83 is not a matter of if, but when. And when it does happen, he will be alone at the mountain top. The real question is how many more victories can he add to his record-setting resume? The answer is how ever many his body will allow. Tiger’s mind and passion will not slow any time soon. But his knees and back could be a different story. The fun part now is that every win from here on out will be historic and add to the lore that is Tiger Woods.
All three of my picks made the cut at the ZOZO Championship. Oh wait, there wasn’t a cut. But nonetheless, Tony Finau struggled with a T-59 at +3, Rory Sabbatini lied in the weeds with a T-33 finish at -3, and Monday’s skins winner Jason Day nabbed a top-25 at -6.
Next up we have the WGC-HSBC Champions in China, and the Bermuda Championship for those not qualified for the World Golf Championship. HSBC Champions Winner: Billy Horschel Finished tied for 6th last week in Tokyo and finished tied for 11th here last year. Has the hot hand and good vibes. Will Contend: Xander Schauffele Defending champ and nabbed a top-10 last week. It’s hard to defend a title among the world’s best but he’ll be in the mix. Sleeper: Corey Conners Winner of the 2019 Valero Texas Open but still not on a lot of radars. The Kent State grad is currently 27th on the FedEx Cup list and 56th in the World Golf Rankings. Finished 2019 in the top-10 in stroked gained off the tee, approach to greens, and tee-to-green.
Bermuda Championship Brand new event opposite the World Golf Championship in China. Winner: Lanto Griffin Got to go with the FedEx Cup points leader and Houston Open winner while the big boys are in China. He’ll look to continue to climb the World Golf Rankings. Will Contend: Chad Campbell The veteran has shown some signs of past form with a top-10 in Houston recently. He’ll look for win #5 in a brand new event. Sleeper: Smylie Kaufman This field is full of sleepers, so a lot of opportunity for young guy to get the first W, or for a vet to revive that oh so wonderful feeling. There’s not a bigger sleeper in the field than Smylie Kaufman, however. In fact, you could even accuse him of actually being asleep the last couple of years. Without looking, I don’t know when the former tour winner has broken 75 last.
Enjoy the game and each other,
Written by Seth Zipay, Head Golf Professional
Published by Craig Walton