Phil or Tiger?
It seems ridiculous to ask whose career is better. I actually heard this topic raised on a national radio show this week just a few days after Phil lost the Open Championship to Henrik Stenson by three shots despite firing a bogey-free 65 on Sunday.
This score would have won him the Claret Jug in 141 of the 145 Open Championships. He made Royal Troon his personal playground. He was an 1/8 of an inch away from shooting the only 62 in major championship history on Thursday.
He is amazing! But, come on, to compare Phil to Tiger is absurd.
Phil’s resume is great: 5 major titles, 11 runners-up in majors (tied for second behind Jack’s 19), 42 career PGA Tour wins and ten Ryder Cup appearances.
But, come on, next to Tiger’s his just doesn’t compare.
Tiger will go down as the best, or at worst, second best, golfer in the history of the sport. You can certainly argue he’s the most influential golfer ever. Not even Jack boosted the popularity of golf to the heights that Tiger did when he became a household name in the 1990s.
Tiger brought droves of new players to the game. He was intense. He was passionate. He impacted the drama, the purse and even the television product with his determination and competitive drive. Look at the career earnings for some of the average players on Tour. They owe all of their millions to Tiger’s popularity.
Everyone had to see him. When he had on that red Nike polo on Sundays, he was must-see TV.
Tiger may be finished. He may return. Who knows. His back is balky and his confidence is shaky. Even if he never hits another competitive 9-iron in his life, his tombstone will read 79 career wins, nearly twice Phil’s total. He has won 14 majors, second only to Jack’s 18. He has only lost one 54-hole lead in a major and finished the job 15 times.
Tiger is in another stratosphere.
Phil is a T-bone. Tiger is a filet.
Phil is a Jaguar. Tiger is a Rolls Royce.
Phil is incredible. Tiger is iconic.
Believe me, going down as a Top-10 golfer of all time is nothing to sneeze at and Phil is in that conversation with some of the greatest names to ever swing a club: Palmer, Player, Trevino, Jones, Varner, Hogan, Ouimet and others.
But, come on, Tiger is on the top of that list.
It’s hard to beat No. 1.