A Day Of Surprises (And What Could Have Been)

Well, I’m done predicting tournament outcomes!

I never thought TW would come back from two strokes down in the final round to win another Green Jacket.  In fact, I didn’t think he’d ever win another major after all of the back issues.

I was wrong about a good deal of things, including Francesco Molinari coughing up that two strokes lead on the back nine.

So, Tiger makes history on a number of points I can think of off-hand – 15th major and only 3 less than Jack Nicklaus’ haul, 5 Green Jackets, only 1 less than J.N., the longest period between Masters victories (14 years), and of course his first come-from-behind win ever for a major.

I’m sure there are other records in there somewhere, but the mystery is solved (for me at least) on why TW’s ball speed has been a good deal lower than it was last season.

It means he decided at some point to stop chasing the young bombers and just swing, put the ball in play (most of the time) and let his overall game do the work.

I’d say… it worked.

Which brings me to the “what if…”

What if he’d learned to play golf with a Classic Golf Swing instead of the Modern Golf Swing, leading to all the injuries and those years struggling with physical issues (from ’08 to ’18, a stretch of ten years with various physical ailments and injuries) and missing great chunks of (or whole) seasons?

I once said that had he been taught a Classic Golf Swing, Tiger would be, all else being equal, at around 25 majors and counting.

If he’s at 15 now, is it inconceivable that a healthy, Classic-swinging Tiger Woods wouldn’t have averaged one major win per in those ten years?

I guess we’ll never know the answer to that, but I’d have to say now that with 15 majors to Jack Nicklaus’ 18, I’m getting closer to calling him the G.O.A.T.

I still give it to Jack for now, but apparently the clock hasn’t yet run out on arguably the greatest talent ever to play golf.

Career wise, I’m pretty sure even TW would say that 18 beats 15, all other wins aside.

  • So, I said in ’08 after his early season knee surgery and layoff that he wasn’t going to win the U.S. Open upon his return, although when he did win, I asked how many future majors he’d cost himself by playing on that ruined leg.
  • I was pretty sure he would win the ’09 PGA Championship, so sure that I went to play golf that day and watched it on recording when I got home.
  • I didn’t think he’d win today… you know, I really am bad at picking horses, which is why I don’t gamble.

So, I’ll leave the crystal ball and tea leaves to others and stick to talking golf swing mechanics from here on in… because the Classic Golf Swing is the proper way mechanically to swing a golf club.


Back Pain or Back Injury Swinging a Golf Club?

Lacking Power, Speed, Distance and or Consistency? 

Need A Swing That Is More Easily Maintained?


If You Answered “Yes” To Any Of The Above Questions, The Answer Is In The Formula For The Golf Swing:

“E = MCS” The Swing Video

20 thoughts on “A Day Of Surprises (And What Could Have Been)

  1. D. Moriarty

    I think we’re all a little surprised!
    I was happy to see Tiger taking it easy. If my iron game was as solid as his, I’d just pull driver out of the bag and slap a hybrid in its place.
    Now the question is: is 18 out of the question?

    1. D Watts Post author

      Well, I’m out of the Making Predictions Business, unless it has something to do with swing mechanics and the risk of injury, DL. I’ll leave it to the history books to determine how many more majors, if any, TW wins. 😉

      1. Jason

        Hopefully Tiger wins a few more before his back gives out. Even he’s said himself that’s the biggest factor.

        1. D Watts Post author

          As long as he doesn’t try to out-drive the younger guys, I think he’s got enough duct-tape and Krazy Glue to hold everything together for a few more runs at majors. Let’s face it, the regular events are not his focus, nor were they ever, really.

          I still can’t get off the fact that Nicklaus won 18 with no one to chase after he hit 14, and he always said he’d have played even harder if he’d known that those 4 majors would be so important to one’s career. I still can’t get off 18 major wins and 19 runner-up finishes.

          So, who do you favor? A guy who had 18 major wins in between fishing trips, or the guy who gutted out 15 wins, destroying his body in the process?

          It will always be a matter of opinion in my view, who the G.O.A.T. is. But hey, that’s the fun of it.

            1. Jason

              I also wonder how far and how much better Nicklaus would be if he played with modern equipment

            2. D Watts Post author

              I would have answered your second question first – what kind of equipment? Persimmon and balata? What type of course, layout and conditions? Because TW can’t find fairways a lot of times even with the best equipment ever designed. Nicklaus was fairways and greens, as were all of the greats. I wouldn’t bet against Hogan, Nelson or Nicklaus on a course with persimmon and balata.

              So, if my life depended on the result, I’d need a lot more info than just the names! 😉

            3. Jason

              Molinari looked pretty solid for the first few holes – especially with his putter. On Some of the bad swings he seemed to have closed his shoulders at address. Also, he was lifting that front foot pretty early (and getting away with it for a bit)… did you see it DJ?

              As much as tiger’s win was revelatory and well-deserves, it took that bad swing from molinari to get there.

            4. D Watts Post author

              I have no idea what happened with him. He’s always had the early lift as we discussed. He was great for the first 11 holes and then it seems nerves got the best of him. Spieth won going away and then rinsed two balls on 12 with a huge lead the very next season. Molinari made two bad swings. I can’t count how many drives TW blew way off-course on the weekend, only to have a shot to the green. It happens. Sometimes fortune smiles on you. Sometimes it doesn’t!

          1. Jason

            Yes. Fortune indeed.

            Actually, from whatever stats I could find thus far, it seems Tiger was 2nd in greens-in-regulation (do you have good site for stats?). I think your explanation of him swinging slower and easier is very plausible (having not watched every swing he made).

            I did think to myself watching a molinari swing on the first nine, ‘his stance is a bit closed’, and him bombing it off the course. But on a subsequent swing, it didn’t looked closed and he hit it quite nicely. Then he completely mishit an Iron going in. But somehow managed to keep saving par. Fell asleep shortly after.

            I did try to look up footage, but everything was on tiger (sometimes he is just too big for golf). I finally found the swing On Twitter and even though we had discussed his early lift before, it seemed especially prominent for some reason….hence my thoughts.

            1. D Watts Post author

              I’ll be honest, I didn’t record the round and I wasn’t in analysis mode yesterday. But he seemed fine for 3 and a half rounds until the wheels came off at 12.

              I’m sure if he’s got any swing issues he and Pugh will work it out. That’s what he pays him for! 😉

  2. humbray

    DJ, mental toughness and golf mind separate Tiger from the younger guys who have physical advantage. When Tiger had mental and physical advantage in younger days it was game over before he teed off. Fun to watch even better with early tee time. Can’t wait for next major. Hope all is well Humbray

    1. D Watts Post author

      Hello Humbray! I’m doing great except for the weather and this winter-that-never-ends should finally have moved on after this weekend’s flurries and ice pellets. Should be getting around to regular spring weather this week, not a moment too soon!

      You’re right on the money with mental toughness – even though Molinari was still tied for the lead after the water ball at 12, I knew Woods was going to birdie the 2 par 5’s at least and that it was either a playoff or a clear win for him, such is his mindset when the chips are down.

      Now that he’s swinging easier, that rebuilt back might hold up for a couple more seasons, and all bets are off for me with regards to majors if he can stay out of the surgeon’s waiting room!

  3. Jason

    I think the problem with ‘GOAT’ discussions is in the term itself – how do we define ‘greatest’ or even ‘greatness’: it’s hard to debate something unless the terms are defined. I think DJ alluded to this when he emphasized the inherent talent that Tiger posseses and that he wins ‘in spite of his swing’. I would agree that tiger is the greatest talent to ever play, but in terms of golf game, I would take jack’s game over tiger’s. Jack had a better swing and also the ability to make timely putts.

    It’s hard to use majors as the metric because they changed (Ben hogan won a few that were supposed to be majors, but name was changed and he only played in 1 British open) and jack didn’t even know he would be judged by that measure or he would have played more majors.

    You could also argue ‘greatness’ in terms of consistency – tiger will have the most pga tour wins by the time he’s done I’m sure. But how about top 5, top 10 finishes?

    1. D Watts Post author

      Jason, I think the best I can do is to say that Byron Nelson was the best of his era, Hogan was the best of the next era, Nicklaus of his and any next eras until TW, who is by far the greatest since Nicklaus.

      Anything more than that is simply opinion!

  4. Brandon

    I will throw my 2 cents in the GOAT debate. Jack is the GOAT. he has 18 majors, 19 major runner-ups, major winning percentage is 18/100 or 18%(1962-1986), 58 total runner-up finishes, 73 career tour victories, 273 top tens, played 21+ tournaments in a season 7 times. winning percentage is 73/450 or 16.22%(first year pro 1962-1986 last win on tour). That is pretty dang good.

    Tiger Woods needs to win, at the very least, 2 more majors to have a legit shot at the title. He has 15 majors, only 7 or 8 major runner-ups,major winning percentage is 15/80 or 18.75%, 31 total runner-ups, 81 career tour victories, 192 top tens, played 20+ tournaments in a season 5 times. winning percentage is 81/341 or 23.75%(turned pro 1996-present day). This just got interesting.

    so the keys that I see in these stats are tiger has played 100 fewer tournaments and played 2 less 20+ tournament seasons than jack and has won 8 more tournaments, tiger has played in 20 fewer majors and is only 3 away from Jack. Jack has finished on the first page of the leaderboard more than tiger. So if these stats are true, then does it really have to win more than 18 to be considered the greatest? If he ties, that would put him with the most career wins and he ties, will that make him the GOAT? I said Jack is the GOAT right now, hands down but after looking up these stats, i’m not so sure anymore. These numbers make the debate very interesting.

    There was a comment made about Jack playing with modern equipment, how much better he would’ve been, I think he would’ve been a little worse but that is based on my research into equipment advances and what the true results have been. Terry Koehler and Tom Wishon have showed through testing in their careers that cavity backs and 460cc driver heads have not made people better and alot of the new equipment hide behind marketing lies. I say that because in 2000, tiger was 2nd in distance at 298, 54th in driving accuracy at 71.22% and he was 1st in GIR at 75% while still using a steel headed, 43 inch steel shafted driver. when he transitioned to the ignite 400cc in 2003ish, his accuracy got alot worse. It would’ve been fun to see prime Jack vs prime Tiger. sorry for the long post. just food for thought

    1. D Watts Post author

      Good points all. I still take Jack for now but there’s still some golf left in the Big Cat it seems. Pity those lost ten years. Stay tuned!

  5. Terry

    Historic win for Tiger. I think he received some good fortune on 12, playing safe after seeing Molinari rinse it. Some strange wind going on there. Finau, Molinari and the group before also put 2 in the water. Since Tiger was a couple behind Molinari at that point, if he had been the one to tee off first at 12, he may have succumbed to the same fate. Well done, Tiger!

    1. D Watts Post author

      I was thinking the same thing on the 12th hole when TW put it in safe territory, Terry. I can’t remember Molinari’s angle, but I am pretty sure he took a more aggressive angle over more water – big no-no when you’re in the lead. Ask Jordan…

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