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