Tiger Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open — and hasn’t won a major since. Eighteen majors have been played since Tiger outdueled Rocco Mediate in a 91-hole tournament, winning in sudden death after an 18-hole playoff.
Of those 18 majors, they’ve been won by 16 players. And the first two were won by Padraig Harrington, who won the 2008 British and the 2008 PGA — and hasn’t won since, unless you count the 2010 Iskandar Johor Open on the Asian Tour. The only other player with multiple major titles since Tiger’s slump began is Rory McIlroy, who won the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 PGA. That’s why McIlroy is considered the world’s best player, if Tiger isn’t.
Majors are what count. Don’t give me Doral or Greensboro or Tucson. Give me majors.
But it’s clear, that few, if any, have stood in Tiger’s stead. Tiger’s slump created opportunity for the world golf community, and outside of McIlroy, no one has emerged.
Maybe that’s because of the great competition. Parity exists in golf like no other sport. Maybe it’s because there’s no great player out there. I don’t know. But clearly, only McIlroy has emerged, and McIlroy counts only because of his age — he doesn’t turn 24 until May. McIlroy is a legit threat to become the dominant force in golf.
But everyone else has to be kicking himself for not taking advantage of Tiger’s slump. Not to say Tiger’s slump is over. We’ll see.
The major winners since Harrington are Angel Cabrera, Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink, Y.E. Yang, Phil Mickelson, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwarzel, McIlroy, Darren Clarke, Keegan Bradley, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Ernie Els and McIlroy.
Parity is good in some sports. It’s been fabulous for the NFL. But parity stinks in golf. We couldn’t pick Lucas Glover or Webb Simpson out of a Filipino parade. These guys are good golfers, but their personalities don’t stick out. They don’t win enough to make themselves stick out.
Which is why the Masters needs Tiger-McIlroy. Or Tiger-Phil, as a bow to yesteryear. Tiger and anybody would do in a pinch.