Today, Tiger Woods won the Buick Open with a score of 24-under, putting together four straight rounds of 66. He beat a tough field that included the likes of Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk. More importantly, he notched his 50th career win and proved yet again why he's the best golfer, and possibly athlete, in our generation.
Think about it: 50 wins in ten years. Shoot, I don't think I've beat Solitaire 50 times in the past 10 years, let alone taming an entire sport like Tiger has.
Arguably the most impressive stat for Tiger is his Mariano Rivera-esque ability to close out tournaments. Tiger has held a solo lead heading into Sunday 21 times in his career. He has won every single time.
(Maybe he could help shore up the back of the Indians bullpen. Sorry, I couldn't write a column without taking a jab at the Tribe. It's just because I love them so much and can't stand to see them like this.)
I was maybe a little too young to fully appreciate Michael Jordan in his prime, but I have yet to see another athlete command such a presence, an aura, over his peers as much as Tiger has. At the beginning of his career, other golfers admitted to being intimidated by him. Eventually some challengers rose, including Singh, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and most notably, Phil Mickelson. But I would take Tiger over any of them on any given day.
Tiger entered the day with a two-shot lead, but it might as well have been 15 shots. I watched most of the tourney yesterday and today, and never did any doubt enter my mind about his chances of winning. At this point, I'm more surprised when Tiger doesn't win a tournament than anything else. He's only played in 11 events this year and has won four times. For those who may not be all that familiar with the PGA, that's a pretty good stat line.
Ever since I started taking golf seriously about, oh, four months ago, I've reached a greater appreciation for all of Tiger's accomplishments. There are so many things that have to go right in your swing, I could spend three whole columns devoted to the basic principles, and it still wouldn't be enough. Then you have to factor in all the other conditions: practice time, weather, course conditions, mental focus, etc. Not to mention all the pressure and expectations that Tiger faces on a daily basis that the other golfers need not worry about.
Now, the next step for Tiger is the PGA Championship, played at Medinah Country Club. The last time the PGA was held there in 1999, guess who won it? Yup, and now he's looking to capture his 12th major title and 51st victory overall.
I wouldn't bet against him.