Date: March 12, 2013
Author: Luke Elvy / Golf Australia

Luke Elvy blog: Is Tiger of old officially back?

It appears some people still need Tiger Woods to win a major to believe he’s officially back. I say that s a load of rubbish, if five PGA Tour wins over the past year isn t enough, then you re a hard person to please. By winning the Cadillac Championship, Tiger now has 17 WGC titles to his credit, which is beyond exceptional considering Geoff Ogilvy is next best with three. He’s also only six behind Sam Sneed s all-time mark of 82 PGA Tour victories and Sneed was 45 when he claimed his 76th, Woods is 37. And of the seven years where he’s won multiple times before Majors Season, he’s gone on to win at least one of them on six occasions, only failing in 2003. Now tell me you don t think he’s going to win Major no.15 this year? He still hasn t played the Arnold Palmer Invitational yet! He’s the undeniable favourite for a fifth Green Jacket at The Masters, but who s to say he can t win either the US Open at Merion, the Open at Muifield or the PGA at Oak Hill? We know what he’s like we he gets on a roll. I m certainly not suggesting a Grand Slam or that he’s in 1999-2002 form where he won 7 of 12 majors, but he’s certainly looking ominous because he wins multiple times at venues he likes. 40 of his 76 wins come on six courses. Torrey Pines (8) Bay Hill (7) Firestone (7) Muirfield Village (5) Cog Hill (5) Doral (4) Augusta (4) Consider this. During his wins at Torrey Pines and Doral this year, he was in complete control of the tournament coming down the stretch. There was an air of invincibility as he closed out the W . The rest of the best in the world were playing for second and that s like the Tiger of old. More importantly the putts were dropping. In fact, he had exactly 100 putts which is his fewest EVER for 72-holes. That probably explains where the 27 birdies came from, which is just one shy of his PGA Tour best. By getting back to his winning ways Woods has re-opened the Greatest Of All-Time (G.O.A.T) debate. Most current day players say it s a no brainer, it s Tiger in their eyes. Where you get the argument is from those who witnessed Jack s era and they rely on one statistic his 18 majors. It’s the only record Tiger hasn t taken off Nicklaus, every other record he has bettered in the corresponding time. And if you re having the GOAT discussion/argument with your friends be armed with this vital fact. Tiger s win rate is 27% (76/283) more than double his nearest rival 13% – Jack Nicklaus. Enough said? When I spoke to the Golden Bear at the re-launch of The Australian Golf Club last Friday, I asked him if he gets tired of the GOAT discussion? Is he tired of answering the will Tiger break your 18 majors record? His response, It doesn’t bother me at all, matter of fact it s very flattering I m still in the conversation. The conversation for now though, surrounds the first major of the year. The Masters is only a month away and there are some seriously good players in form. If you took the final leaderboard from Doral and threw them into the mix at Augusta on the back 9 on Sunday, it would make for an impressive tournament. Woods, Stricker, Scott, Mickelson, McDowell, Garcia, Bradley, McIlroy, Hansen and Rose were all in the Top 10 this week and save for perhaps a couple of others, this looks like the contenders list for the first major of the year. I d like to throw in two others, Jason Day and Geoff Ogilvy. The latter is not a confirmed starter yet, but if he gets in via OWGR top 50 by April 1, I wouldn t be surprised if we see a repeat of 2011. Maybe, that elusive Green Jacket will finally be ours. However for that to happen a few hurdles will need to be cleared and the biggest is Tiger Woods and if it s based purely on winning, there s no one better at it than the man in the red shirt on Sundays.