Earlier this September, PGA golfer Brooks Koepka stated that he is confident that he can catch Tiger Woods at 15 major titles.
When it comes to the greatest golfer of all time or the “GOAT” if you will, there’s only two golfers that come to mind: Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. Not Brooks Koepka.
There are other golfers that come to mind like Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player, but when it comes down to the stats and career accolades Hogan and the others just aren’t on the same level as Woods and Nicklaus. The stats say Woods is the greatest but the wins say that Nicklaus is. So, this begs the question, who is the better golfer between Woods and Nicklaus?
If the “GOAT” title is based off of major titles alone then Nicklaus is greatest no doubt about it. Nicklaus finished with 18 major titles and 73 top 10 finishes compared to Woods’ 15 wins up until now and 41 top 10 finishes so far in his career according to the Golf Channel YouTube account. Even if Woods had one or two more majors there wouldn’t be a debate as to who is the undeniably greatest golfer of all time.
Nobody dominated like Woods in his prime.
Woods has the ‘Tiger Slam’, which was holding all four major titles at once which Nicklaus never did. Nicklaus may hold the record for most majors but Woods has him beat on total wins in the PGA with 82 which is tied for first all time with Sam Snead with Nicklaus sliding in at third with 72 wins via pgatour.com.
Making the cut in a tournament is the first thing a golfer worries about when in a tournament, Woods isn’t one that really seems to worry about making the cut as he made an all-time PGA record 142 straight cuts from 1998-2005 meaning that Woods didn’t miss a cut for seven straight years and just showed how he could keep going at this elite pace for so long. Nicklaus’ longest streak of not missing a cut is 103 straight according to pgatour.com. The previous record was 113 held by Byron Nelson.
Nicklaus was in a class of his own when it came to playing at Augusta. He held the record for the largest margin of victory at the Masters while also dominating winning six times at Augusta.
Woods ultimately ended up smashing Nicklaus’ record of largest winning margin at Augusta by three strokes with his demolishing of the field winning by 12-strokes at the 1997 Masters. That wasn’t the largest Woods has won a major by though. As Woods then topped 12 stroke win at the Masters with an outstanding showing at the 2000 U.S. Open Championship where he won by 15 strokes according to PGA.com.
Woods in 20s was a mad man who destroyed the competition in front of him. Woods had 46 wins in his 20s, the most all time. But that’s not the stat that is crazy. Woods wins alone in his 20s is good for eighth on the all-time wins list. The second most wins by someone in their 20s? Jack Nicklaus with 30.
Nicklaus however does have Woods beat with the most second place finishes in his career with 19 to Woods’ six.
Woods growing up had a picture of Nicklaus and the number of majors he’s won growing up so we know who Tiger aspired to be growing up.
But being the greatest golfer of all time shouldn’t come down to how many majors you’ve won. It should come down to what you’ve done in your career, and Woods has clearly had the better career of the two.