For many golfers, beating the best not always tougher than beating the rest
SeparatingWoods from the rest
MARANA, Ariz. — Forget the World Golf Championships were ever created, and no one would dispute the world supremacy of Tiger Woods. At the very worst, he still would have 48 career victories on the PGA Tour and be miles ahead of everyone else.
Woods now has won 15 times against the best players in the world.
Darren Clarke is next with two WGC victories, the 2000 Accenture Match Play Cham- pionship and the 2003 NEC Invitational at Firestone, both times beating the world’s No. 1 player.
Ernie Els, a three-time major champion, has one world title (Ireland in 2004).
Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh have combined for none.
Never mind the world ranking. Maybe his world titles are the true reflection of the gap between Woods and his alleged competition.
“I don’t know how to answer that one,” Woods said Sunday. “All I know is that I just love playing against the best players in the world. That’s the fun part because we don’t get to do it that often.”
But there is a case to be made that beating the best isn’t necessarily harder than beating the rest in a full-field event.
Clearly, the Match Play Championship is the toughest of the WGCs to win, and it’s a testament to his ability (physical and mental) that Woods has won three times and reached the final another. Only three other players have been to the finals twice.
But in the first three WGCs he won at Firestone, Woods never had to beat more than 40 players in 72 holes of stroke play. He had to beat only 60 players in his first American Express title at Valderrama.
In his tour career, Woods has won 20 times against limited fields with guaranteed money.
Playing a full field, whether that’s 120 players at invitationals like Bay Hill or 156 players in the summer, means more chances that someone will have a career week.
Bob May was one of those guys at Valhalla in 2000 when he lost toWoods in a three-hole playoff at the PGA Championship. Bob Burns was one of those guys at Disney in 2002 when he shot 65 to win.
There’s a lot of truth to the PGA Tour’s slogan, “These guys are good.”