This week professional golf competition returns to The Country Club at Brookline, Mass for the first time since the USA’s heroic comeback victory at the 1999 Ryder Cup. The last player to make a swing on the course that day was a man in knickers and a flat cap. It was a greenside bunker shot…
Jack: Inside the Numbers
I talk about Tiger Woods…a lot. I am extremely grateful to have grown up within the game of golf during the Tiger Woods era. I know exactly where I was for almost every one of his incredible, superhero, out of this world shots and performances. But today I’m going to talk about the other goat. Tiger’s greatest rival on paper, a fellow buckeye…Jack Nicklaus. This week Jack hosts The Memorial played at his Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio just outside Columbus. I was fortunate to play Muirfield the Monday following the conclusion of the 2008 tournament, won by Kenny Perry. I’ve told the story many times but I met the Golden Bear in the 13th fairway that day. He drove right up to us along with the GM and superintendent. They were out making notes for changes they planned to make before next year’s tournament, and he took 5 minutes to stop and chat with us and ask if we were having a good time. I have no photo of this meeting as my caddie was 100 yards ahead with my bag. I was also so struck I didn’t ask him to sign anything. All I have is a handshake and a memory. But a great memory indeed.
A while back I did a piece on Tiger’s numbers and their incredible, historic relevance. As I compiled that list I did it with my jaw sitting on the desk. This list will certainly have that affect as well. Just like there are LeBron people and Jordan people, you have Jack people and Tiger people. There is no right or wrong, but this is a dead horse we will continue to beat until the end of time.
46 – Jack has 46 top-3 finishes in majors. Tiger is 2nd with 26 and Phil has 24.
87 – From 1963 – 1979, Jack was 87 under par at The Masters. He has 5 green jackets in that span and finished outside the top-10 only twice.
15 – From 1966 – 1980 Jack never finished worst than 6th at The British Open.
35 – During the decade of the 1970’s Jack finished in the top-10 in 35 of 40 majors.
22 – From 1966 – 1982 Jack recorded 22 rounds in the 60’s at the US Open. Arnie is 2nd with 14.
56 – Jack has 56 top-5 finishes in majors. Tiger is 2nd at 33.
17 – Jack won in each of his first 17 seasons on the PGA Tour. That streak is tied with Palmer for most consecutive seasons with at least one tour win.
24 – Jack won his first and last major 24 years apart (1962 US Open & 1986 Masters). Tiger has 22 years between his first and last.
40 – At age 40, Jack led the PGA Tour in total driving. This category combines distance and fairways hit.
24 – Jack played the Masters in par or better over 72 holes a record 24 times. He is also the Masters all-time leader in birdies, eagles, top 5’s, and top-10’s.
19 – Despite 18 major championships, Jack has 19 runner-ups. Phil is next at 11.
2000 – The most remarkable parallel between Tiger and Jack is what took place during the 2000 season. Nicklaus made his final start at both the US Open and PGA Championship. Tiger won both. In 2005, he made his final starts at the Masters and British Open. Who won both of those? A guy named Tiger. Spiritually odd.
Enjoy the game and each other,
Seth Zipay – Head Golf Professional