Jon Morse (jonfmorse) wrote in sports_journal,
Jon Morse

Golf: The Difference Between Now and Then

Here's the guys in the top 10 of the Masters' leaderboard as I compose this (and round three's almost done, so it's not like we're looking at first-round flukinage here).

Brant Snedeker (2007 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year):
PGA tour wins: 1
best major finish: T18 (2007 PGA)

Paul Casey
PGA tour wins: 0
best major finish: T6 (2004 Masters)

Trevor Immelman (2006 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year)
PGA tour wins: 1 (although admittedly it was the 2007 Western Open, the "fifth major")
best major finish: 5 (2005 Masters)

Steve Flesh
PGA tour wins: 4
best major finish: T7 (2004 US Open)

Robert Karlsson
PGA tour wins: 0
best major finish: T5 (1992 British)

Arron Oberholser
PGA tour wins: 1
best major finish: T4 (2007 PGA)

Oh, and Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Retief Goosen, who presumably everyone with even passing knowledge of golf at least recognizes.

Who are these guys? Going back to Tiger's first Masters win, you find folks in the top ten like Tom Kite, Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, Justin Leonard, Davis Love III, and Jeff Sluman. Tiger didn't fend off a bunch of nobodies 11 years ago. 11 years before that? Jack's last Masters' win? Kite, Watson, Greg Norman, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Price, Jay Haas, Payne Stewart, Bob Tway. Back another 11 years -- Jack's last win before 86, oddly enough -- Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, Hale Irwin, Billy Casper, Hubert Green, J. C. Snead, Lee Trevino... and Kite and Watson AGAIN.

Anyway, my point here is, again: who the hell are these guys on the leaderboard? Aren't golf's majors supposed to be clashes of titans, with the greatest golfers in the game facing off in mortal combat?

Then it hit me. Really, the only real heavyweights left to challenge Tiger are Phil, and... umm... well, Vijay's still around on the money list, but he isn't a force anymore. Justin Leonard and Stewart Cink are around, but they sure aren't Lee Trevino and Tom Kite to Tiger and Phil's Nicklaus/Watson show.

I dunno. I'm not saying Tiger's not the greatest golfer ever; I do think he is, and he's still got a good fifteen years to add to the resume. But I think we need to take into account the lackluster level of competition he's been facing of late. At least as a talking point, anyway.
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