Thursday, July 27, 2006

Toigah Wins 11th Major in Typical Anticlimax Fashion

"Toigah" of course being the epic pronounciation of "Tiger" by ABC commentator Ian-Baker Finch.

Tiger had a 1 shot lead going into Sunday, and just about all of the other big names behind him folded up or melted down fairly early, most notably Sergio Garcia & Ernie Els. The day had a chance to be epic, but by the turn Tiger was 3 up. Although he is a hard core Gator, mad props must be given to Chris DiMarco, who was the only player to not shit the bed. In fact, after a birdie at 12 and then a 50 foot par saver at 14, he was within 1 shot of Woods and it looked like it was game on. Except that Tiger did what he so often does in such a situation: calmly birdies 14, 15, and 16 to put things away.

One thing that has gone largely unnoticed for many years was on full display last week: Tiger Woods is by far the best long iron player in all of golf. Period. For all the talk about his length off the tee, his amazing short game, and clutch putting, the biggest gap between himself and everyone else may very well lie in his ability ot strike the ball accurately with an iron from 200 to 250 yards out. Using his 2 iron off the tee almost exclusively (he hit driver only once all week and 3 wood a handful of times), woods hit 46 or 54 fairways for the week to lead the entire field at 85%. On Sunday he hit every green in regulaton except 1 - all week is was surgical golf, and was actually pleasant to see this strategy employed and successfull in an era where the prevailing attitude is hit is as far as possible with driver every time, fairways be damned.

So Woods is now 11 for 11 in majors when leading after 54 holes, which is pretty damn amazing (for the record, Nicklaus was 10 for 12 in his career with the 3rd round lead in a major). Perhaps even more amazing is that Woods has never come from behind on the final day to win a major. All 11 are from the lead.

Oh, and his 11 majors are 2nd all time in the history of the sport (to Nicklaus' 18), and dude is only 30 years old. Insane.

As I have talked about before, Woods is just unbelieveable at majors where par is 72, especially if the par5s are reachable. He is now 9 for 17 in his career in par 72 majors (.529). Compare the to his 2 for 22 record in majors where par is 70 or 71 (.091), and the contrast is quite remarkable. So I won another of my rolling bets with SD where I get Tiger at 3-1 odds against the field in every major. As long as they play at least two par 72 majors each year (Masters is always par 72), I feel pretty good about this ongoing bet.

The PGA Championship next month is at Medinah in Chicago, where Tiger won in 1999. Note that par is 72, although with the course lengthened to 7,561 yards it looks like only 1 of the par5s will be reachable, and even that one won't be easy.

One last amazing stat that I came across last week among all the talk about Tiger's chances to catch Jack's record of 18 professional majors. Jack not only won 18 majors, he finished 2nd 19 times and 3rd 18 times, for an absolutely insane FIFTY FIVE top 3 finishes in majors. Tiger may very well surpass Jack's record for major wins, but I highly doubt that he will ever come close to 55 top 3's in majors (currently he has one 2nd place finish and three 3rd place finishes). Think about that for a minute: Tiger currently has fifteen top 3 finishes in a major. So over the next 20 years, he would need a top 3 finish in every other major to match Jack's 55 top 3s.

3 comments:

Brain said...

Kanu,

I said it friday at 9:00am est Friday the 21st, It is over. Tiger just plays the golf that allows him to position himself at or near the top. Much props in him passing the Haig this past weekend. I'm sure that a "Dream Match" between Walter Hagen and Tiger Woods would have been at least entertaining. The Haig squaking up and down the fairways with a drunken grin on his face. Tiger hitting fairways and greens and gives us fistpumps and laser stairs as he blows through Sir Walter.

Good times. Good times

Kanu said...

Brain-

FYI they are tied now: both have 11.

Tiger might win that head to head match, but I guarantee you that Haig would win the party.

Brain said...

True. My bad on jumping the gun.