Is everybody finally agreed that Tiger Woods won’t top Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championship titles? OK, let’s move on to a topic that may be even more tender for his biggest supporters.
Fight it if you must, but there’s no ironclad guarantee that Tiger will top Sam Snead’s all-time record of 82 PGA Tour victories, either.
Not trying to be nasty here, or ridiculous. It’s just that Tiger is nowhere right now to building on his current total of 79 Tour victories.
Things could change but they haven’t for a while, at least not since his last win in 2013, and it’s gotten to where missed cuts don’t become the lead headlines that they used to be.
He had a shot at adding No. 80 at Greensboro last weekend, a tournament he previously had never stooped to play, but there was no Sunday charge. A final-round 70 allowed nine players to finish ahead of him, with a toxic triple-bogey doing most of the damage and sloppy play around the green the cause of it.
The good news is that it was Tiger’s first top-10 in a season that has been noted more for his missed cuts at three of the four majors. The bad news is that there no more chances to get another win in 2015 because Tiger doesn’t qualify for the year-end schedule of PGA Tour playoff events.
On Dec. 30 he turns 40. Not that old, really, for a world-class golfer.
Nothing stopping him from winning four more tour events somewhere down the line, providing he gets reacquainted with the fairway off the tee and remembers how to put four low rounds together. There’s the physical question, too, with back problems supposedly tamed but a hip issue arising.
The thing is, all the notes about Nicklaus, who won five times after his 40th birthday and included three more majors on the list, are losing their relevance.
So, too, are career comparisons to Snead, who turned 40 in May of 1952 and won 18 more PGA Tour events after that. He’s the guy whose smooth swing lasted forever. He’s the one you could never count out.
Davis Love III is another one like that. He’s been winning on Tour for close to 30 years and he can always win again when his game is on and his putter cooperative. It happened most recently at Greensboro last week. Love, 51, likes it there. Two of the three tournaments he’s won since his 40th birthday have come at Greensboro.
Come to think of it, Snead’s 80th and 82nd tour wins came at Greensboro, too.
The guess here is that if Tiger really does pass Snead, one key to the achievement will be breaking through a few times at tournaments like that, when most of the top players are taking a break.
Keep in mind that from 1936 to 1961, Snead had just two winless seasons. He knew his game, and he knew how to make it work over the long run.
Tiger may prove me wrong and regain his own consitency, and it would be outstanding for golf if he did, but he’ll need to find a new game before he starts winning again, whether it’s one more time or a dozen. There are too many other top players out there. More, in fact, than Snead had to overcome in his day.