Like every major sport, golf has its legendary players. You know, those players that were so much better than their peers that it seemed like they would win almost every tournament they played in. Guys like Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen dominated American golf’s early stages (i.e., 1920s). No golf fan will ever forget the dominant trio of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player in the 1960s and 1970s. Then of course more recently golf fans were treated with the unbelievable skills of Tiger Woods.
Well, thanks in large part to the popularity of Tiger Woods in the 1990s and 2000s, a whole new breed of young golfers was born; guys like Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and the list goes on and on. It leads to the question of whether or not the PGA Tour is as competitive as it’s ever been? It certainly seems that way given the fact that there have been three new major winners in the last six events.
Gary Woodland’s U.S. Open Victory A Sign Of The Times?
After Gary Woodland became the newest major champion with his impressive performance at Pebble Beach, it was impossible not to look back and compare it to Tiger Woods 2000 U.S. Open Championship at that very course. Back in 2000, Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open by shooting a terrific 12 under par. The closest player to him on the leaderboard was Ernie Els, who finished at 3 over par. Yes, Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open Championship that year by a whopping FIFTEEN strokes!
It doesn’t take quantifiable statistics to determine that we will never see that type of victory in a Major ever again. The reason? The talent pool in golf is so much better today than it was even 20 years ago that the competition level is now so high. For those of you that need some numbers, however, check this out: Brooks Koepka is the #1 ranked golfer in the world right now and his scoring average is a low 69.3. Nick Watney is ranked #147 in the world and his scoring average is 70.9. About a stroke and a half difference between #1 and #147. In comparison, Tiger Woods nearly had a five-shot difference between his scoring average and that of the #147 golfer in 2000, which is truly a massive difference in golf.
The point is, the field in each golf tournament these days is much, much deeper than we have ever seen. While it’s still expected that a top 10 or top 25 golfer will win most tournaments, it’s possible that any tour player could win on any given week and it would not be truly shocking to us. This depth in golf talent is leading to some tremendous golf and we’re all benefactors of this youth movement.
Who will win the British Open in a couple of weeks? Personally, I hope it’s Tiger Woods, but I would bet that it will be another new Major winner and one that is under the age of 27. That’s golf in 2019 and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
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