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Why Tiger Woods didn't win more majors, according to one Hall of Fame golfer

Wednesday, 22 February 2017 08:52

By almost any standard, Colin Montgomerie has had a marvelous career. He’s a Ryder Cup legend, the best European Tour golfer in history, and while he’s mostly known for his failure to win a major, he’s putting together an impressive Champions Tour career.

 

Golf.com’s Michael Bamberger sat down with Montgomerie to discuss all of that in a recently-published interview, and it didn’t disappoint.

 

Aside from a very questionable claim from Monty that he wouldn’t trade his career with Tiger Woods’…

 

“I never won a major. Tiger won 14. But would I trade my career for Tiger’s? No. I started out this game a pretty good golfer and finished in the Hall of Fame. I feel I have overachieved. So how could I say I wish it were better? People will say, `Well, he didn’t win a major.’ And, yes, I would have liked to shut them up by winning one. But that’s my only regret, really. Great that I have won senior majors, which has quieted the odd person.

 

…he shared an interesting take on how the rapid advances in golf equipment ended up costing Tiger a host of major championships. So many that, were it not for those changes, he would’ve already surpassed Jack Nicklaus’ major record.

 

“What might Woods have done had the game never moved off the balata ball and the wooden wood? Many golf fans would say he would have won less. I believe he would have won far more. He has the 14 majors. Without the equipment changes, I believe he’d have well into his 20s now. Because now everybody has clubs where they can do what he could do.

 

“Two others lost out hugely to technology. Greg Norman was one. He was the best driver of the ball with the wooden club ever. He lost out when drivers went to metal and suddenly we could do what he did. He lost his asset. And the other was Seve. When Ping developed its L-wedge, with box grooves, we could suddenly do what Seve could do with a 52° club. He lost his asset too. Tiger had all that, in spades. And then we were given equipment that allowed us to do what he could do.”

 

It’s an interesting take, one that has statistical backing.

 

Here’s what the PGA Tour’s Driving Distance ranking looked like by the end of the 1997 season, Tiger’s first full one as a professional. As you can see, Tiger’s in second, a full seven yards ahead of third place. It wasn’t a one-off, either: He finished second by seven yards the next year.

But then, over the ensuing years, everybody else started to catch up. Thanks in part to better technology, the PGA Tour’s average Driving Distance jumped an incredible 13 yards in just three years between 2000 and 2003. Tiger’s average Driving Distance increased a little bit over that time (about five yards), but as you can see in the 2003 Driving Distance stat, it wasn’t enough to keep him from falling behind.

That, basically, is the essence of Monty’s point of view. It’s tough to quantify exactly how much it altered Tiger’s career — Nicklaus, after all, dealt with massive shifts in equipment himself — but it’s certainly something worth considering as we debate Tiger’s overall legacy.

 

Source: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/02/tiger-woods-jack-nicklaus-major-record-equipment-colin-montgome

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