At the inaugural Zozo Championship in Chiba, Japan—more than 5,000 miles from Las Vegas in my home state of Nevada, where he notched his first win as a pro in 1996—Tiger Woods just bagged official PGA Tour win No. 82 a couple months shy of his 44th birthday, tying Sam Snead for the all-time record.
We all know that by now, and now the long-disputed fact is really and truly unquestioned: We are in the presence of the GGOAT: The Greatest Golfer Of All Time.
Why? Let us count the ways.
Slammin’ Sammy was 52 when he hit No. 82, and he had played far more events in total to get there. Tiger has done it in 359 Tour starts, meaning he’s won almost a quarter of the PGA Tour events he has played. That will never be matched, on this planet or any other. And he’s done it against a far deeper and more talented competitive field than Snead had to deal with.
Tiger has now surpasses $120 million in Tour winnings alone, and raked in billions more in promotional bucks—with untold millions lost as he made his way back from his ignominious 9-iron incident/divorce/drug treatment/injury/recovery period, which lasted years.
He has 15 majors, and, to my mind, would have at least 25 were it not for that extended exile. And now I’m among the growing consort of journalists and fans who again believe he can match Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18, and perhaps eclipse it.
I’m pretty sure current young studs like Rory McIlroy, who’s in the midst of his own resurgence and finished third in Japan, and World No. 1 Brooks Koepka are thinking the same thing. If they aren’t, they’re fools. And they aren’t fools.
Finally, Tiger is the undisputed MORE: Master Of Reinvention Excellence. I can think of no other player, save perhaps Ben Hogan, who has found a way back to the top of the game after so many physical, psychological and personal roadblocks.
This seems the perfect time to revisit this piece from almost exactly a year ago, when Tiger came all the way back to win the Tour Championship in Atlanta, his 80th win overall. Several of our Top 25 Instructors chimed in on how he did it then, and their thoughts still hold true. Perhaps more than ever.
All I know is that when the page turns toward 2020, Tiger Woods will be at the center of every conversation leading up to the Masters. And that’s a good thing. Great, in fact. Just like him.