Tiger Woods vs. Jack Nicklaus

Tiger turned 40 late in 2015 and with 3 back surgeries now, his career is pretty much over. And as he said himself… “anything from now on is gravy.”

I really hope to see him come back if at all possible. At the very least, I hope he gets healthy enough to be able to enjoy his kids and play sport with them.

But man-o-man, what a career from Tiger Woods!

When you watch golf now, without Tiger in the field you appreciate how good he was.

Tiger made you watch golf on T.V. whereas now it’s more “as a golfer, that’s what you do.”

Tiger made people watch golf who probably never ever watched golf before.

There’s great young talent around now for sure. Jordan Spieth, Rory and Jason Day to name a few… but Tiger was in a class of his own.

However, how does his career stack up against Jack Nicklaus’?

Well, you could simply say that Jack has 18 majors to his name and Tiger has 14.

But that’s overly simplistic.

What about the runner-up finishes in majors.

Jack finished 2nd nineteen times in majors. Tiger was runner-up six times.

Who were Tiger’s main rivals over his career?

Probably Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els. Anyone else?

Who were Jack’s main rivals over his career?

  • Arnold Palmer
  • Lee Trevino
  • Seve Ballesteros
  • Gary Player
  • Tom Watson

There’s some true class there.

You could argue that the fields were stronger in Tiger’s era than Jack’s. Maybe so, but as far as people stepping up in the Majors, you could argue that in Jack’s era there were golfers that stepped up to win majors… which is maybe why he had so many 2nd places.

So who is better… Tiger or Jack?

You might think I’m going to say Jack.

Well, you’re right on one hand, and wrong on another.

The problem with Tiger is you don’t have one version to compare to Jack. Tiger tore down his swing and rebuilt it so many times that you have different vintages of Tiger.

Much like a wine.

I personally like the 2000 vintage of Tiger. And I think if you put that Tiger against Jack at his best I would give a nod to Tiger, simply because Tiger had a better short game than Jack, and so could have won against Jack because of that.

But over the long term career I would say the best golfer ever to play this game is Jack Nicklaus. And the best golfer when at the top of his game would have been Tiger Woods.

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Jeff Richmond