Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Greatest of All Time

Tiger Woods is the greatest athlete I have ever seen in my lifetime. There, I said it. I will argue this point with whoever wants to discuss the merits of golf being a sport, Tiger being an athlete, or who compares to his domination of their respective sport. His win yesterday was a work of art, coming back from four strokes down to win The Memorial in classic Tiger fashion - hitting all 14 fairways, and driving a stake through the field’s collective heart with a 7-iron from 185 yards on the 18th – 5” from the cup. Perfection.

His “competition” shrivels on Sunday when they see him in the rearview mirror, or throw in the white towel when looking up at him on the scoreboard. I cannot remember another athlete literally striking fear into opponents the way Tiger does - the man is Mike Tyson in his prime stepping into the ring - opponents are KO’d before the fight even begins.

Tiger has not had a legitimate rival since arriving on the PGA Tour in 1996. Phil Mickelson was supposed to challenge Tiger for the #1 ranking in the world, to be the Larry Bird to Tiger’s Magic Johnson, but aside from a few wins here and there he can’t hold a candle to what the man has accomplished. He is the perennial MVP of his league, can you imagine Lebron James (or anyone) winning the MVP award for 13 straight seasons? That’s what Tiger has done.

If Major wins on the PGA Tour are comparable to Championships in the NBA, MLB, NBA or NHL, who can compete with his 14 and counting. He is showing no signs of slowing down, and golf fans should feel lucky to have the opportunity to watch the master at work. Tiger Woods is a freak, plain and simple. He is the greatest athlete of my time, with the drive to become the greatest athlete of all time.


  1. Tiger Woods has definitely changed the sport of golf and was the first person to make the work 'Golfer' synonomous with 'Athlete'. Before him, guys like Jack Nicholas & Arnold Palmer were guys who looked like they drank beers all day and spent too much time at the buffet. Now, golfers have strict weight regimines and Tiger is to blame.

    Obviously he is a prodigy and is already the best GOLFER we have seen in our lifetime.

    I'm not sure I can say that he is the best ATHLETE of our lifetime because golf is so much different than any other sport because of the individual nature of it.

    Major wins can't be compared to Championships because there are four of them per year. Jordan won six championships in a sport where there is only one championship per year and he did it in a team sport.

    Also, I think that although golf at the level that Tiger plays takes an incredible amount of athletic ability, other sports take a lot more.

    In golf, you really don't have an opponent and it's a game of precision and science more than reflex and pure ability (which are two of the main characteristics of athleticism).

    Tiger could be considered the most dominant sports figure of our lifetime, but I'm not giving him the greatest athlete. (Is that a cop out answer?)

    But damn, isn't it fun to watch him?

  2. Ok this is good stuff. I think we may have to define athlete. Are we talking athletic ability here or dominating performance in an athletic event/sport?

    If its athletic ability I would throw some names like Lawrence Taylor, a '90's Griffey or Bonds, (my boy)Rickey Henderson or even LeBron out there. I'm sure older guys would say Wilt, Willie Mays and Jim Brown among others.

    I think this conversation is about dominating performance in his sport, compared to others in their sport. I think it has to be between Tiger and Michael Jordan. Like Spider Rico said, it is so tough to compare due to Golf being an individual sport compared to the other 4 major sports being team sports. Woods and Federer(also 14 majors)would be an easier comparison due to the nature of the sports.

    I think Michael Jordan is the Greatest Athlete I have ever seen. A career points per game average of over 30. 33 in the playoffs. 5 time MVP, 14 time all-star. Won Championships and Finals MVP's in his last 6 full seasons with the Bulls. His presence denied all-time players like Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, and Reggie Miller to never win a Championship. We may someday be able to compare Michael's time with the Wizards to Tigers on the Senior Tour. Even his 2 season with the Wizards proved his mastery of the game. He was able to average over 20 points per game in the NBA without any of the athleticism that he had with the Da Bulls. Michael Jordan is the Greatest of all time!

  3. I'm not a big golf guy and I won't gonna pretend to be. All my knowledge comes from Caddyshack....and I NEVER slice!!! But I'd probably have to agree with Mike on Jordan being the greatest (narrowly edging out Kevin Ollie). Ricky Henderson was a joke, right?
    I mean, Tiger has to do it for 4 days in a row. Jordan had to do it for 82 games and then 2 months of playoff games with Oakley and Starks punching him in the neck. But Tiger has at least put his sport in the conversation. Before him, no one ever referred to a golfer as an "athlete". Although John Daly finishing a keg by himself in an hour was impressive.

  4. You'll soon realize that Ricky Henderson is on almost every list I come up with, including top AC Surf player of all time.

  5. Tiger is soon to be a billionaire, becasue he is so dominating at golf. I agree he is the best. If Bo Jackson didn't get hurt he would be in this discussion.

  6. I'm not a golfer either--but the few times I watch ----Tiger is indeed intimidating. While he is clearly a talent (believe it or not--I am so old I remember him as a punk 3 yr old on Mike Douglas show) he clearly knows he is the best and does the little things to brand his intimidation on others. I admire that---he is the real deal! Does anyone really watch golf on tv for more than a few minutes?

  7. GREAT article namesake. I'm a huge Tiger fan and loved reading this but I just have to disagree with you.

    Picking up on Spider Rico's point -I think it's impossible to categorically say that Tiger is the greatest athlete of all time. I just don't see how you can compare performance in an individual sport like golf to team sports like baseball or basketball.

    When it comes to team sports, names like Babe Ruth, Jim Brown, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Pele and others are sure to be thrown around. But Babe had rely on hitters in front of him to help him get AB's. Jim Brown had to rely on his line and those white guys who wouldn't block for him. Jordan had make sure his "supporting cast" were making screens and executing plays. And so on.

    Individual sports have their own very different challenges for sure - and there have been plenty of standouts worthy of consideration.

    How about swimming? Michael Phelps put on a show last summer that at least in my book was a textbook definition of pure "dominance".

    How about track & field? Watch this video
    and tell me that Usain Bolt isn't from another planet (like maybe Kryton). Only dope this guy was on was homegrown (Phelps would testify).

    Boxing? You wanna talk about inspiring fear in an opponent...how about having to watch Mohammed Ali climb into the ring running his mouth about flies and bees but perfectly capable of backing up every single word?

    All great names, but I think Tiger's biggest competition comes from my vote for the greatest athlete of all time - Lance Armstrong.

    Wanna talk championships? Lance won the Tour de France in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. That's seven consecutive years. What does he do next? Well, after his doctor gave him a 50% chance of survival from his 1996 (yes, 1996) diagnosis of cancer, he fights back and.... wins.

    I am by no means a cycling fan. I don't think I've ever even watched it on tv (although I have drank beers in Manyunk and I think a bike race might have been going on). But I do respect the sport and I will be paying attention on July 4th of this year when Lance makes his 2009 comeback (no salary and donating all endorsement compensation to cancer awareness)

    Dominating performance, pure athletic ability, multiple championships, inspiring fear in competitors.... all in the face of a personal tragedy (attacking his very athleticsm)...is what gets Lance Armstrong my vote for greatest athlete of all time.