By Joe Cooper @joeRantSports on April 2, 2014
The sports community preserves only a few “best ever” categories that refrain from sparking an open discussion. To name a few, the greatest basketball player is Michael Jordan (for now), best wide receiver is Jerry Rice and Wayne Gretzky is hockey’s finest. I have never understood why Tiger Woods doesn't fall in this class as the greatest golfer to every swing the wrenches. Here are five reasons why he should be recognized as such.
Tiger Woods, despite his infidelity, is the face of golf both on and off the course. Much like his elite ability between the fairways, his marketing brand stands next to some of the biggest names in the business like Nike, Rolex and Gatorade, which named a series of sports drinks after him called “Tiger.” Woods has opened doors for dozens of golfers to become the faces of their sponsors.
Tiger Woods became the youngest player to earn the No. 1 ranking on the PGA Tour at 21 years and 167 days old on June 15, 1997. Woods has spent a total of over 13 years atop the golf world. The ranking system was established in 1986, excluding Jack Nicklaus’ prime from the accolade. It would have been interesting to see what he would have amassed throughout his career.
Once the bullet is on your back after winning a major championship, everyone is gunning for you. Following a fifth-place finish in the 2000 Masters Tournament, Tiger put on a clinic winning four straight major championships. The 2000 U.S. Open was won by 15 strokes and The Open Championship by eight strokes. As if this wasn’t enough, Woods capped off the new millennium by winning the PGA Championship before winning the Masters Tournament in 2001.
Tiger Woods ran circles around the pack at Pebble Beach, beating runners-up Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez by 15 strokes. Maybe if the field played with a casual golfer’s handicap, they could have competed with Woods, whose feet didn't touch the ground all weekend.
With advanced technology and a more competitive field, the modern era of golf is superior to any other time frame. The bottom of the crowd is more inclined in today’s game to surprise folks in shortening the gap between the top-level talent and amateurs-turned-professionals. Woods has won 14 majors before the age of 40, and he isn’t done.
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