Washed Up At 35?

I’m currently reading John Feinstein’s Moment of Glory: The Year Underdogs Ruled Golf, and came across an interesting fact: Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson both won their last majors at age 34. The implication was that players are largely out of the running in Majors after that age.

Tiger is 35. I wonder … but …

Jack Nicklaus, of course, was famously 46 when he won the 1986 Masters. That’s eclipsed in the modern age only by Julius Boros’ 1968 PGA Championship win at 48 years old. Jerry Barber won the 1961 PGA Championship at age 45, the same age Hale Irwin was when he won the 1990 US Open. Roberto de Vicenzo won the 1967 British Open at 44, while Ray Floyd won the 1986 US Open at 43.

And over the past 15 years, there has been no shortage of older Major winners. A non-comprehensive list (rounding off the months):

At the Masters: Phil has won at age 34, 36 and 40. Cabrera turned 40 in 2009. Vijay was 37 in his 2000 Masters win. Faldo was 39 in 1996. O’Meara was 41 in 1998. Crenshaw was 43 in 1995.

At the US Open: Cabrera was 38 in 2007. Retief Goosen was 35 in 2004. Payne Stewart was 42 in 1999. Corey Pavin was 36 in 1995.

At the British Open: Tom Lehman was 37 in 1996. O’Meara was 41 in 1998. Harrington was 37 in 2008; 36 in 2007. Todd Hamilton was 39 in 2004. Stewart Cink was 35 last year.

At the PGA Championship: Harrington at 37 in 2008; Mark Brooks at 35 in 1996; Vijay was 41 in 2004. Phil was 35 in 2005.

And in what I would term the pre modern age, among others, Old Tom Morris won the 1867 British Open at 46; Harry Vardon, the 1914 British Open at 44, and Ted Ray the 1920 British Open at 43.

So Tiger isn’t out of it yet. But it’s sure to get more difficult for him. Eclipsing Jack’s record is not going to be as easy as once was thought.

2 thoughts on “Washed Up At 35?”

  1. The past ten years have shown us that players can remain relevant, even dominant, well into their 40s.  Tiger’s got plenty of time, if he doesn’t derail himself.

    Jim Dauer
    Co-Founder, FullForesome.com

  2. One of the things I have been saying about Cheata Woods is that it is important to look and see where on the track he is to beating Jacks major records – Jack’s 13 & 14 came at 35 years old.

    Cheata is now 34 years old, but it has been two years since his last major victory #14. 

    #14 was also the point where Jack petered out.  He won one at 38, and then two at 40 before his last at 46. 

    Cheata winning his 14th at 32, people didn’t expect a wall at that point, it seemed wide open and he was 3 years ahead of Jack.  But that isn’t what has happened – first injuries, and then what I think last year was nerves, and now scandal and injury.

    Tiger was living life in the fast lane and I think he was burning himself out.  The stress he has put on his body has taken a toll.  Perhaps hamburgers and milkshakes were not the best way for Jack to treat his body, he didn’t put excessive stress on his body that way.  The workout and practice regimen that Tiger has used has put excesssive stress on his body- he never took time off in the way that Jack did. 

    Then there is what was going on in his private life – he has wrecked himself mentally.  He has put so much of his life into beating that 18, I think it held him back last year – when he was playing excellently so often, but the majors just couldn’t come together – between losing his lead to YE Yang and missing a cut, something was wrong with Cheata.  Then the stress of this year, he no longer has full control of the media, he has lost his wife and children, and hundreds of millions of dollars and he has lost a lot of fans. 

    If he does make that 18, he will truly be the greatest- but it just doesn’t look good at this point.  He is self destructing before our eyes.  More spectacularly than Daly could dream of – and I think that it is not beyond the realm that he may either just quit altogether.  We may now have another Bobby Jones.  You will have these set of greats – but if you are going to use the major records- Jack will be on top – and we will just have to argue for the ages of who was better.

    I still say even if he hit 18, I would argue based on the technology and competition.  The greats that competed with Jack were greater than those of Cheata’s era.  How Jack would have been able to perform given the equipment – not just the clubs and balls, but also the shoes and clothes cannot be figured.  How would Jack have been able to perform given the wedges and balls of today’s game?


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