Tiger or G.O.A.T.?


As Tiger Woods tapped in his last put to win the U.S. Open yesterday, I couldn’t help but feel goosebumps.  In my opinion, it was one of the most memorable sporting events that I have ever followed.  “A golf event being memorable?” you ask…  You could call me crazy, but to see one of the world’s most dominant athletes battle through a severe injury (a leg injury, I might add!) to triumph reminded me of an athlete by the name of Kirk Gibson

Tiger woods triumphed on Monday, after a grueling 19 hole playoff against aged veteran Rocco Mediate.  Not only did Tiger win his 14th Major golf tournament, but he did it in miraculous fashion.

3rd Round

It all started during the 3rd round on Saturday, on the 13th hole, as Tiger sunk a 60 foot eagle.  He followed on the 17th hole by hitting his approach shot into the thick rough next to the green.  But in typical Tiger fashion, he hit the ball out of the rough and straight into a hole for a birdie, to Tiger’s disbelief.  Tiger capitalized on the 18th hole by sinking a 20+ foot putt for another eagle, to put him in the lead by 1 shot going into the 4th and Final round.  Going into the 4th round of a Major tournament in the lead, Tiger is undefeated

4th Round

Tiger started the 4th and final round with a one stroke lead, which didn’t seem much for someone that was doubled over in pain for half of the round.  Tiger, who was visibly in pain throughout the Sunday round, somehow managed to stay close to Rocco Mediate going into the 18th and final hole only down by one stroke.  Then, he sinks a putt to tie Rocco Mediate, to force an 18 hole playoff on Monday.  This finishing put seemed to roll around the entire hole for eternity before dropping into the hole.

 18 hole playoff

Tiger Woods matched up with Rocco Mediate for an epic mano a mano battle to the finish.  Tiger went into the 18th hole, again, down by one stroke, and was somehow able to scratch back against Mediate, to tie him for yet another sudden death playoff hole.  And the rest is history.  Tiger sinks a par putt and he wins his 3rd U.S. Open, and now is only a Grand Slam away from tying Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 career Major tournaments.

As I contemplate Tiger’s performance this past weekend, I ask “is Tiger the Greatest Of All Time”? (G.O.A.T.).  You may ask, “in comparison to who?”.  As I look at the entire spectrum of sports, I believe that Tiger Woods is the greatest athlete ever to walk the face of the earth.  I remember watching Tiger win his first Masters tournament when I was a sophomore in high school.  He won by 12 strokes to become the first minority to win a Masters tournament.  And lets not forget Tiger’s chip during the 2006 Masters…  Sure, there are several athletes out there worthy of the G.O.A.T. designation: Babe Ruth, Muhammed Ali, Jackie Robinson, or Michael Jordan.  But in my opinion, based on sheer adversity faced during a sporting event, I feel that Tiger has proven, again and again, that he is the G.O.A.T.  Like Michael Jordan lighting it up when he has the flu, Tiger proved to us yesterday that he was able to gruel through a major injury to win a Major tournament.  And like Kirk Gibson in the 1988 World Series, there was plenty of fist pumping at Torrey Pines…



9 Responses to “Tiger or G.O.A.T.?”

  1. Man, what a potentially great debate. I would without hesitation say that Tiger is the G.O.A.T. in the golf world, but of all athletes of all time? Wow. That’s a toughie.

    But I agree. His ascension, his dominance, his continual reinvention of his mechanics (swing), his single-minded determination to break Nicklaus’s 18 majors (and let’s not forget, it took Fat Jack 3 decades to collect his 18 – GOAT Woods has 14 in just a shade over 1 decade…).

    There’s no comparison. This is the single-greatest athlete of all time. Beyond Jordan (way beyond, actually, since Tiger is still likeable). Beyond Ali (which is really hard to accept). Eldrick Woods is the G.O.A.T.


  2. He’s definitely in the conversation for greatest golfer of all time, but it’s not fair to compare a superstar in golfing to a superstar in a team sport.

    If Jordan or Gretsky or Pele or Ruth had played their entire career only playing 1 on 1, they probably would’ve put up even more impressive winning percentages… but they played in a team sport, which makes their accomplishments all the more impressive. Carrying your team, making the players around you better… those are the things that define a great athlete.

    And I’m not sure I’m even willing to call golfers “athletes”. Golf is a hobby, not a sport. It’s a great accomplishment for him and I’m not belittling golf or Tiger, but if you’re talking about sports or athletes I’ve got to immediately remove golfers, race car drivers, bowlers, billiards players, poker players, chess players, spelling bee champions, etc. etc. ESPN might consider them sports and athletes, but I think there’s a tangible difference.

  3. nathanelwell Says:

    Golfers are athletes, no question about it. I would actually say they are more “athletic” than team athletes (football, baseball, etc). When you are on the team, the going gets rough, and if you get in a slump, you can call time out and have your replacement come in. When you’re in golf, its just you, the clubs, a ball, and the hole you’re on. If you feel a twinge in your shoulder, its either play through the pain, or forfeit and lose. There are more incentives for golfers to play hard. A pro baseball player can ride the bench for his whole career, maybe get 100 AB’s and still get paid AT LEAST 400k per year. In golf, you don’t ride the bench. You play every weekend and if you decide to sit out a tournament, too bad. NO SOUP FOR YOU! I’d rather be a golfer in a second than to be a Jack Haley for my career.

    Tiger works his butt off each week to get to the shape he is in. Read this article if you don’t believe me: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/topic/red-tigertalksfitness,0,7904838.story. If we’re going to single out bowlers, race car drivers, and golfers as “hobbies” then we have to do the same with tennis (since it is an individual sport). And if that isn’t a sport than the pope ain’t catholic.

  4. I totally agree with you, Nate. Individual athletics are worthy of much higher praise, simply because there’s no one to hide behind. Now, would I want to go watch bowling? No. Do I want to watch tennis? No. But should those athletes be minimized simply because their sports aren’t that interesting or fun to watch? No.

    Having played baseball at a high level, and currently being a golfer, I can say for certain that golf IS a sport.

    Walking 18 for six straight days (practice rounds, 4 tournament rounds) and concentrating with such focus ain’t exactly playing jacks on the sidewalk…

  5. I will however argue that NASCAR and F1 Series racing is not a sport. It’s a high school wee-wee match writ large…

    Just can’t get into 43 saps turning left for four hours.

  6. Like I said, he works hard… but it’s no more of a sport than billiards or bowling or chess or any other competition.

    Individual success may be more impressive to you or others, but it’s a whole different category.

    We can bicker about semantics of what is a “sport”. The word has lost all meaning at this point. But I can’t imagine you’d disagree that there’s a tangible difference between an athlete who plays a team sport, and people who excel at some other activity.

    If you’ll allow me some hyperbole: If Tiger Woods is in the conversation for greatest athlete of all time, then so should Kobayashi. I mean, Kobayashi won the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest 6 years in a row.

  7. Just out of curiosity, Gavette, how DO you define sport?

    Not trying to be a smart-aleck – I’m genuinely curious.

    I previously believed that golf, bowling, cheerleading, NASCAR, billiards, et al were NOT sports, and I am still not all that convinced on bowling, NASCAR and pool.

    But golf? Heck yeah.

    And cheerleading? Yup – if for no other reason than the physical stamina, strength and recovery powers it takes to even remain proficient.

    So – how do YOU define SPORT?

  8. twonateshow Says:

    I think the key is to recognize that each sport (bowling, billiards, archery) is apples and oranges compared to each other. Yes, there are elements of team sports that are different than elements of individual sports. But I guess we’ll have to disagree on whether or not golf is a sport. There needs to be some objectivity in how we define what a sport is. In regards to Kobayashi, now he is the legend of all legends in hotdog eating contests. He has to reek like hotdogs. I’d be willing to admit that it is a sport as well. Although you probably gain more weight from fat than from muscle. Yuck!

  9. you can call whatever you want a sport… the word doesn’t mean anything anymore. people call hunting a sport. that’s fine, the word is completely diluted, so let’s just ignore it. i’m not saying golf isn’t a sport. but it isn’t a sport in the same way football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and hockey are sports.

    the point i’m making is that you can compare jordan to gretsky to ruth to brady because they’re all playing team sports, and there’s similarities between how one man can carry a team and achieve greatness. but tiger woods to jordan? nope. there’s just no frame of reference.

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