By Dana Reynolds – Staff Writer
At his peak, Tiger Woods could have been considered the greatest golfer in the game. With his scoring records and margin-of-victory marks in major championships, he used to outshine anyone on the course. But each year, people await his comeback and it never seems to follow through.
It is becoming clearer that Jack Nicklaus — who managed his game, his body, and his life with more composure and maturity — has had the better overall career.
Looking at the numbers can explain why. Although Nicklaus is now 74, he is still showing why he is the greatest golfer of all time.
Before he was even 38, Nicklaus played in 24 major championship matches and snatched five wins, five seconds, and five thirds — adding up to 15 top finishes. Woods, who is now 38, has played in 20 major championships. He missed four tournaments due to injuries. Woods has had one first place finish, two seconds, and one third.
Although right now Woods has the same number of major titles as Nicklaus did at 38 (14), will he be able to keep the pace? Between the ages 38 and 40, Nicklaus won three more titles. Nicklaus has had few physical injuries because he was determined to prevent them.
As a result, he never had to miss a championship tournament and was able to play on the professional tour until he was 58. The same applied to Arnold Palmer, who played until he was 65.
Unlike Nicklaus, in just the past six years Woods has suffered from numerous injuries. He has missed five majors and in his comeback he played badly — with a missed cut and a 13-over-par disaster. Woods has been forced to decide, countless times, how badly he is injured and whether he can or should play through the pain. It is happening again.
Many people have questioned his training schedule. As Nicklaus approached 40, he played a limited schedule to keep his body from breaking down. He spent time with his wife and children to keep himself mentally sharp.
Woods has been working frantically to beat Nicklaus’s career 18 major titles. He has been running in heavy boots and lifting weights. He is the first elite golfer to use this training technique.
But is it possible to train this hard and prevent injuries at his age? Is Woods injuring himself further? This is something that people will just have to watch for themselves.
Woods has fought back from 58th to number one in the world again, but how long will this last? This climb to the top has definitely had its price. Nicklaus never had to redeem his reputation. Nicklaus spent his 30s pacing himself, while Woods spent much of his time covering up personal scandals.
Sophomore Tyler Mertens does not think that Woods will ever return to the golfer he used to be. “Scandals always have an impact of your life,” he said. “It caused unneeded stress. I don’t think he will ever return to the golfer he once was.”
First-year Ben McKernan also questioned Wood’s ability to outperform Nicklaus. “Well, Tiger Woods is still a fairly young guy, so he still has a while where he could surpass Jack Nicklaus,” McKernan said. “I do have doubts though. I do not think it is out of the question, but I do not know if he will be able to surpass Nicklaus.”
Wood’s private life has received so much media attention. This caused him to lose many sponsorships and caused fans to become very upset. Woods, who was originally the person everyone came to watch, quickly became the person people rooted against.
Despite Wood’s shortcomings, junior John Kelley still thinks that Woods should be considered one of the greatest golfers of all time.
“He has had a fantastic career and despite his mistake a few years ago, he will still definitely be considered among the best of all time,” Kelley said. “I think he has made great strides to return to his prime. I don’t know how much longer he intends to play, but I think he could potentially surpass Nicklaus.”