The 2013 Cadillac Championship marked Tiger Woods’ 76th official win on the PGA Tour in only18 years. That’s already better than Jack Nicklaus who had 73 in a span of 25 years. Among active players, the closest is Phil Mickelson who has 41 victories. Without a doubt in my mind, Tiger is going to win some more. He’s only 37 years old. The only person who has more wins than Tiger is Sam Snead with 82 wins over a span of 30 years.
In my opinion, the question about who’s the best golfer ever has already been settled. The only thing left for him to do is break Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors.
Let’s take a closer look at those 76 wins.
Year – Wins
2013 – 2
2012 – 3
2011 – 0
2010 – 0
2009 – 6
2008 – 4
2007 – 7
2006 – 8
2005 – 6
2004 – 1
2003 – 5
2002 – 5
2001 – 5
2000 – 9
1999 – 8
1998 – 1
1997 – 4
1996 – 2
Take note of 1998, 2004 and 2011. These are three distinct periods in Tiger’s pro career when he didn’t win a bunch of tournaments. To the average pro, winning a tournament is considered a breakthrough. For Tiger, it’s called a slump. That’s how good he is. But there are logical reasons behind those slumps that not many people know or care about.
In 1998, he changed his swing under coach Butch Harmon.
In 2004, he changed it again under coach Hank Haney.
In 2011, he changed it again under coach Sean Foley.
We’re not talking about simple adjustments here. These were major overhauls. Completely different philosophies.
Perhaps the hardest was the most recent one, because it happened during a time when his personal life was a mess. Plus the fact that the Tour has gotten so much more competitive, thanks to players who actually grew up watching Tiger.
What can we learn?
If it took about a year for somebody as talented as Tiger to start feeling comfortable again, don’t feel bad if you struggle with your swing after one lesson. Commitment is key. (If only he applied the same principle to his marriage.)
While some of us might debate about which of his three swings/coaches is the best, Tiger has proven that he can win with any of them… as long as he putts well. He can probably undergo a fourth swing change and still win if he chose to. He proved what I have always believed. While it’s important to choose a system that doesn’t contradict the laws of physics and geometry, at the end of the day, swings don’t win tournaments. Winners do.