CHARLOTTE, N.C. – At this juncture, one might argue that Tiger Woods’ solely competitors is with himself.
Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and the remainder of right now’s forged of stars present all the competitors one might ask for, however that’s permitting your self to change into a prisoner of the second.
This isn’t in regards to the week-to-week challenges Tiger could face a lot as it’s discovering a sensible customary that might enable some kind of significant comparability when you think about that at present the highest 10 gamers within the World Golf Ranking have received a mixed 12 main titles to Woods’ 14.
Sure, that four-pack of lacking majors to match Jack Nicklaus’ report of 18 Grand Slam tilts – and the extra attainable aim of matching Sam Snead on the all-time PGA Tour victory record (he at present trails Slammin’ Sammy by three trophies) – are essentially the most typically cited examples of Woods’ profession scorecard, however earlier than the golden years lastly arrive for Tiger the one actual aggressive comparisons can be in opposition to himself.
How, for instance, would the 2000 model, you already know the man who received the U.S. Open by two touchdowns, stack up in opposition to this most up-to-date iteration? Or the 2006 Tiger, who received greater than 50 p.c of his begins (eight of 15), fare in opposition to the 2013 mannequin, who actually winced his solution to 5 Tour titles and his final Player of the Year trophy?
It’s a compelling train as a result of Woods has made it so.
Since coming back from again fusion surgical procedure final yr Woods, who’s poised to make his first begin because the Masters at this week’s Wells Fargo Championship, has contended for titles on the Valspar Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational, defying maybe even his personal lofty objectives and making a frenzy of expectations, be they practical or in any other case.
It’s Woods’ demeanor and confidence that’s largely fueled this narrative, the concept he might one way or the other return to one thing near these early editions that re-wrote report books and dominated the sport like no different participant.
It’s additionally been his phrases.
“I’m seeing speeds and velocities I hadn’t seen since my early 20s, which is nice because I was long then relatively speaking,” he mentioned on Wednesday following his pro-am at Quail Hollow Club.
Although it’s troublesome to completely quantify as a result of the Tour didn’t maintain radar statistics like they do now when Woods joined the circuit within the late 1990s, he not too long ago figured that in his prime his membership head pace was about 126 mph with a 43 half–inch driver shaft and he was at all times among the many sport’s longest gamers off the tee.
During the Valspar Championship in March he recorded the yr’s quickest membership head pace on Saturday at 129.2 mph, and he at present ranks third on Tour with a 121.9 mph common membership head pace.
In 2013, when he was coping with ongoing again points, he ranked 28th with a 118.three membership head pace, whereas in ’08, the yr he received his final main championship, he had a 124 mph common.
But then membership head pace is way from the final word benchmark for fulfillment. A extra goal approach of estimating how the 24 yr previous would match up in opposition to the 42 yr previous might boil all the way down to simple arithmetic.
Woods’ fourth full yr on Tour was by far his statistical high-water mark. He averaged 298 yards off the tee (second on Tour), hit 71.2 p.c of his fairways, 75 p.c of his greens in regulation and had a 67.7 scoring common. He additionally received 9 instances.
In 2006, he was longer (306 yard common) however hit fewer fairways (60.7 p.c), greens (74 p.c) and his scoring common climbed to 68.1; and that pattern continued in ’13 with a 293-yard driving common, simply 62.5 p.c of his fairways and a 68.9 stroke common.
In a restricted pattern measurement – Woods has performed simply six occasions this season – his 2018 statistics evaluate favorably with ’13 and ’06. This season he’s averaging 302 yards off the tee and is hitting 51.9 p.c of his fairways, though his scoring common has ballooned to 69.eight.
Lost in these comparisons, nevertheless, is what Woods now brings to the desk. His brief sport has been classic Tiger and his placing common (1.74) is statistically much like 2013 (1.73).
Most importantly he understands higher than ever what it takes to win, however he’s but to show the significance of that aspect when it counts on a Sunday.
If Nicklaus’ 18 majors offered motivation for Woods as a baby rising up in Cypress, Calif., these new requirements are what now should drive him. If statistically he’s nicely off the historic tempo he set in 2000 – and he’s nicely off that tempo – the 2013 season, or perhaps even ’06, gives a extra practical, and maybe with time even attainable, measurement.
Maybe the fashionable, rebuilt model of Tiger would by no means have an opportunity in opposition to that ’00 goliath who received three legs of the single-season Grand Slam; or even the ’06 buzz noticed who received his final seven begins of the yr, however while you’ve achieved every little thing that Woods has it may be the one competitors that makes any sense.