A year ago Tiger Woods, then on 14 majors and 79 PGA Tour wins, seemed destined to fall short of Sam Snead's record. Now it's a matter of when, not if
As recently as the start of last week some still hadn’t learnt their lesson over Tiger Woods. Despite all the evidence to the contrary some were still hiding behind the last hurrah storyline of Augusta and how it had squeezed the last drop of greatness out of him.
At Royal Portrush he became the first Masters champion to miss the cut in both the PGA Championship and the Open and the whisper was, such was his level of discomfort all week, that he might need another back op.
After playing just 12 competitive rounds in three months he said he was in need of some time off, in the end it came about through some further surgery to his knee.
Some raised their eyebrows over how he might pick himself for the Presidents Cup, others seemed a bit tired of the whole point of his visit to Japan.
Then he made a mess of the first few holes in the skins challenge, there was a bit of light-hearted banter about which of the two greens Woods was aiming for before he warmed slightly to the task towards the end of the round.
Come the tournament proper he opened up with three straight bogeys. No change then, Tiger’s star continues to slip.
He’s now equalled Sam Snead’s total wins of 82 on the PGA Tour.
These are very different days to Snead’s, long before the PGA Tour existed, so his number includes some oddities in terms of where he won. At some point soon Woods will eclipse this and everyone will be relieved at the validity of the whole thing and no one will ever get close to whatever Woods’ tally finally settles on.
Just as a point of reference – Phil Mickelson is currently on 44, Dustin Johnson 20, and Rory McIlroy 17.
That initial hat-trick of dropped shots was offset by nine birdies and he never looked back. In a 78-man field he’s dominated from start to finish with the likes of Rory, JT and Spieth – and interestingly the young bucks of Morikawa, Hovland and Wolff – in the rear-view mirror for a third win in just over a year.
When he’s fit and healthy he’s still exceptional. Why wouldn’t he be? When it happens like this it’s the most blindingly obvious outcome given the unique talent and mind that we’re dealing with.
All of which will culminate in Woods picking himself for the Presidents Cup and the most one-sided competition in the game will be instantaneously sparked into life. It had been suggested that commercial pressure would be the key factor in Woods naming himself as one of four wildcards, now it just boils down to who, as Woods has constantly reminded us, the other players want on their team.
For all the chat of ‘Brooksy‘ or Rory or anyone else, the golfing world still dances to the beat of Tiger’s drum and now we’ll get to see him in a new role of playing captain at one of the world’s greatest courses in Royal Melbourne.
Next summer Woods will hopefully play in his first Olympics. For the record he has now played in six official tournaments in Japan, he’s won half of them. Maybe that will be the perfect send-off to his astonishing career or maybe we should finally realise that he’ll more than likely continue to prove most of us wrong.