For many golfers, beat­ing the best not al­ways tougher than beat­ing the rest

Separat­ingWoods from the rest

The Covington News - - Sports - By Doug Fer­gu­son

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.”

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