IS TIGER WORTHY OF THE HALL OF FAME ... BASED ON THREE GOLF COURSES?
Undoubtedly, Tiger Woods is a Hall of Famer seeing that he is one of the two greatest golfers of all time. However, his cruise to victory on Monday was his seventh win at Torrey Pines, one of those being the 2008 US Open. He also has seven wins at each of Firestone and Bay Hill.
It is certainly arguable that Tiger Woods has a Hall of Fame career based solely on his performance these three golf courses. He has 21 wins including a US Open at these three courses. He has earned prize money of $21,652,000 based on solely wins at these courses. With this kind of record, it is interesting to consider Tiger's numbers in this context.
Consider some relatively recent inductees to the Hall of Fame with only one Major win (including Hall of Fame elect Fred Couples, Colin Montgomerie and Ken Venturi).
Tiger's performance at Torrey Pines, Firestone and Bay Hill alone would top this list with 20 wins and a US Open. The US Open win would trump the PGA as a Major win with all due respect to the PGA Championship in the case of Lanny Wadkins. It is also fair to say that Torrey Pines, Firestone and Bay Hill all typically have strong fields and a look through some of the PGA wins of some of these other worthy members of the Hall of Fame certainly show some tournaments that would be considered weaker than any of the tournaments held at these three courses.
Of course Montgomerie and Charles are not in the Hall of Fame for their PGA acumen (Monty must be there for his press conferences) and other international players were left off of this list. In the case of Tiger, it is fair to make a comparison against players that based their career primarily on the PGA Tour. Even so, Tiger is clearly a Hall of Famer based on Torrey Pines, Firestone and Bay Hill alone.
It is even fair to say Tiger's performance on these three courses holds up to some 2-time Major winners. Granted, Majors are perhaps the most important factor. But what are seven World Golf Championships events worth? The WGC event has a very strong field and from a current World Golf Rankings standpoint and calculations. Firestone is valued much more than a normal PGA Tour event. The WGC at Firestone has an event rating approaching the Majors championships. In 2012, the WGC at Firestone had an event rating of 788 compared to the Masters at 802, the US Open at 829. By comparison,a normal PGA event like the Travelers had a 278 rating).
Now consider these 2-time Major winners in the Hall of Fame compared to Woods.
The point of these comparisons is not simply to marvel at Tiger's dominance. After all, if you switch Bay Hill for Augusta National as one of the three courses, you would have 13 PGA Wins (excluding Majors) and 5 Majors (US Open and 4 green jackets and a remarkable comparable line that looks like this.
There's no bigger Johnny Miller fan than me, but I think he would trade those results at 3 courses for his career results -- which is amazing to even contemplate.
No, the main point is that Tiger's performance on the three courses of Torrey Pines, Firestone and Bay Hill show a level of consistency, even through two significant swing changes, that itself is worthy of the Hall of Fame.
More interestingly, does the win this Monday at Torrey tell us anything?
One view is that although he jumped to a huge lead, it is not the same Tiger Woods. The troubles off the tee on Monday including a couple ugly pulls/hooks and a pop-up with the 3-wood shows a vulnerability he never had in the past. Consider this: the 72 he shot Monday is the highest number he has ever posted in the fourth round of the 30 PGA Tournament wins in which he has won by 3 or more strokes (tied with a 72 (+2) at Bethpage Black in 2002 for the US Open -- which can be argued is a unique situation). Aside from that 2002 US Open, it is the only time he failed to break par in the final round of the 30 PGA wins that he won by more than 2 strokes. One could point to this to suggest he doesn't have the closing mentality he once had. There are certainly many factors including the wind and slow play on Monday that could have contributed to this finish. It may reflect a different Tiger or maybe it is just a blip.
Of course there is another way to look at this win. He first started winning the events at these three courses in 1999 and 2000 with his power and controlled cut while working with Butch Harmon. He then won a bunch more at these courses in his second act with Hank Haney with a draw and miraculous short-game. Are the wins at Bay Hill last year and now Torrey Pines last week a signal that Tiger is revving up for Act III? History suggests it is possible. It certainly will be fun to watch.
USGA ADDS TOPICS FOR MICKELSON TO AVOID
The USGA announced it is going back to Winged Foot in 2020. The players will tee off only 2 days after Phil Mickelson's 50th birthday. It's interesting to think about whether he'll still be around but it seems unlikely with his aversion to making money upon which he is taxed, health issues and commitment to family time. But here's hoping he shows up and of course hoping that Johnny Miller is still in the booth for the broadcast. As memorable as Phil's choke was, I rememebr Miller's great and brutal commentary just as vividly.