Horses For Courses: Half Of Tiger’s Wins Were On Six Courses
In interviews, tour players often remark that they have had success at a particular golf course because it “fits their eye” or “fits their game.” In those instances, there is just something about the course’s layout, routing, or even visuals that the player thinks has given them an edge.
It’s horses for courses.
There is perhaps no player for whom this is more true than Tiger Woods. Astoundingly, six courses account for half of Woods’ PGA TOUR wins.
- Torrey Pines – 8 Wins
- Firestone – 8 Wins
- Bay Hill – 8 Wins
- Doral – 7 Wins
- Murifield Village – 5 wins (The Memorial)
- Augusta National – 5 wins
Tiger currently has 41 wins on those courses. He has 82 wins overall.
Another is St. Andrews.
St. Andrews has been the host of the Open Championship four times in the last 20 years. Tiger won two of those. Of the remaining he did not play in one (injured), and finished 23rd in the other (that also was a year in which he was notably injured).
Given that, Tiger should be a favorite at the 2022 Open, which will be staged at St. Andrews. He also has won at Southern Hills, which is the venue for the 2022 PGA Championship. Tiger might also be considered a contender there.
Lest anyone think that this is a slight to Tiger, consider that even if you eliminated all of those 41 wins, Tiger would still be ranked eighth in all time wins and would have nine majors, placing him in a tie with Ben Hogan.
Jack Nicklaus’ 73 Tour victories include
- Augusta – 6
- Pebble Beach – 4 (three Crosby and one US Open)
- La Costa – 3 (Tournament of Champions)
- Paradise Valley – 3 (Sahara Invitational)
- Magnolia – 3 (Disney Invitational)
He won at several venues twice: St Andrews, Baltusrol, Preston Trail (The Byron Nelson), Portland Golf Club, Inverrary (the Gleason) and his own Memorial (2).
That’s 22 of 73 wins on his top six courses, or 30%.
Still horses for courses, but to a smaller degree.
Was Jack’s game more versatile, or was something else going on?
An alternate explanation for the contrast between Jack and Tiger may be that PGA TOUR venues in the 1960s and 1970s were less stable than in the 2000s. In the current era, the PGA TOUR has courses and sponsors locked into long-term contacts. During Jack’s heyday, the Tournament of Champions was played at the Desert Inn Country Club, the Stardust Country Club and the La Costa Resort and Spa.
Nicklaus also won the Byron Nelson twice at Preston Trail. However, during his time on tour, that tournament also was held at Glen Lake, Oak Cliff, Las Colinas Sports Club and TPC Las Colinas.
Nicklaus’ chances for a repeat were thus minimized.
In more recent years, sponsors seem far more likely to change than courses. That likely is a matter of the infrastructure needed to hold a tournament in the age of 24/7 tv coverage.