What if Tiger Woods never picked up a golf club in an alternative history? How many majors would players like Phil, Ernie Els, etc have had? We first did this exercise for The Tennis Resource. In golf, I believe it’s a little more cut and dry. The score is the score and the runner-ups are easy to find. In Doing the exercise in tennis, excluding the big three, they could have beat a player rounds before the final. The final score doesn’t come without different pressures, though, as trying to win a tournament. It’s much easier to chase than hold the lead for many players. There have been plenty of majors where players backend a T2 or collapsed when they had the lead. It is interesting to think how their strategy would have changed the final round with the lead, or without the pressure, being paired with a Tiger and the crowd put on you as some were or that succumbed in that situation. I don’t think it’s productive to speculate for our purposes, though. The score is the score here.
Tiger won 15 Majors, in 12 of them there was a solo 2nd place finisher making most easy to identify. Let’s take a look first at the 3 majors that were crowded at 2nd place.
2000 US Open: Ernie Els and Miguel Ángel Jiménez finished 2nd. Assuming there would have been a playoff let’s look at what level of player they were at this point in their career and what they shot in the final round to try to glean some information. It first needs to be said Tiger smoked the field as he did a few times in his career in Majors at 12 under. 2nd place was +3. Els and Jimenez entered the day +2 and shot the same thing. Els was 5th in the world and Jimenez 20th. Both are great players but I think considering Els won 4 majors and had the higher ranking, and better career he wins this.
2000 Open Championship the next major in 2000 also saw a T2 posted by Els with Thomas Bjorn. Els had risen to 3rd by this point in the world with Bjorn coming in a 26th. Els was 2 strokes better on the final day and was the better player. I think you have to give this to Els as well.
2019 Masters The surprise major. As we have talked about in previous articles if you have achieved a certain skill level. The skill level and mental toughness, I believe that still live within you and can be recalled for a 4-day tournament. Tiger had returned to form so it wasn’t a complete shocker if you know Tiger Woods. He hadn’t played a full schedule but if you adjusted for the value of the tournaments he played he was playing like a top 5 player in the world at the time. Still at 44 years old and 11 years removed from his last major it was a surprise. You knew it was possible, especially at a course he knew and played so well, but seeing the result was amazing. He would win with 3 world-class players finishing T2 including two multiple Major winners. Dustin Johnson, Brooks Kopeka, and Xander Schauffele. Dustin Johnson would shoot the lowest score that day by 1 stroke of the 3 and was ranked #1 at the time. I think he gets this one.
|W/O Tiger||Adj Majors|
13 men were affected. Els and DiMarco’s legacy’s the most by the existence of Tiger Woods. Especially DiMarco going from winless in the Majors to a 2-time champion. For what it’s worth though he brought so much attention to the sport their back accounts benefitted greatly which is a decent trade-off in large. Tiger Woods net worth of $800 million in 2022 is pretty strong as well.