Tiger Woods is golf’s all-time great­est player.

The Washington Post Sunday - - OUTLOOK -

Com­par­ing play­ers from dif­fer­ent eras is al­ways dicey, al­though a case could cer­tainly be made that Woods took his sport into its great­est era of pop­u­lar­ity with his stun­ning play over the first dozen years of his bril­liant ca­reer.

Woods has won 14 ma­jor cham­pi­onships and 79 tour­na­ments. He first reached No. 1 in the world rank­ings in June 1997, less than a year af­ter he turned pro. He claims the most to­tal weeks and most con­sec­u­tive weeks in that po­si­tion, in­clud­ing from Au­gust 1999 to Septem­ber 2004 (264 weeks) and from June 2005 to Oc­to­ber 2010 (281 weeks).

But Woods, now 41, hasn’t won a ma­jor since 2008 and hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since 2013. Both his game and his rep­u­ta­tion took a hit af­ter his pub­lic ad­mis­sion in 2009 of mar­i­tal in­fi­delity. This past week, he was in the news for reach­ing a plea deal and avoid­ing jail time in con­nec­tion with his May pre­scrip­tion-drug DUI charge.

The de­bate over the great­est golfer of all time al­ways cen­ters on the num­ber of ma­jor cham­pi­onships won. Jack Nick­laus has 18, the last at age 46 in the 1986 Masters. Many be­lieve that if Nick­laus had been play­ing with the same high-tech equip­ment Woods used, he might have won 30 ma­jors. Af­ter all, he was run­ner-up in 19 of them. Woods is cur­rently re­cov­er­ing from his fourth back surgery and hopes to re­sume play­ing, but sur­pass­ing Nick­laus’s 18 ma­jors is a long shot, at best.

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