While everyone is focusing on Tiger Woods’ chase of Jack Nicklaus’ 18 career Majors, he’s well on pace at another incredible golf record: Sam Sneed’s 82 career tour wins.
Tiger Woods is only 30 years old, but after winning the Buick Open on Sunday, he received a cake with a big “50″ on it. No, Woods isn’t celebrating the half-century mark 20 years early. The Buick triumph was his 50th career PGA Tour victory, which leaves him 32 shy of Sam Snead’s all-time PGA Tour record. Will Tiger break Snead’s mark? Or will he fall short in his pursuit? ESPN.com’s Jason Sobel and GolfDigest.com’s Ron Sirak debate in this week’s edition of Alternate Shot.
Jason Sobel argues that it’s inevitable:
So, why stop there? We know Tiger doesn’t enjoy seeing his name as No. 2 or 3 on any list, so what makes anyone think he would stop short of Snead’s record? At 30, he might just now be entering his peak years as a golfer. Certainly, he’s showing no signs of slowing down, with victories in consecutive starts at the British Open and Buick Open. And there’s a precedent that great golfers don’t simply lose their game as they get older. Nicklaus won The Masters in 1986 as a 46-year-old. Heck, Snead won in Greensboro just two months shy of his 53rd birthday.
Woods earned 50 career victories in exactly 10 full seasons on the PGA Tour. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could win 50 more titles in the next 10 years, meaning Snead’s record could — and should — be demolished sometime in the next decade.
Ron Sirak thinks Woods will get bored with golf long before then.
One of the things that made Snead so remarkable, and Nicklaus as well, is longevity. This is an entirely different generation of athletes and it is not a given that Woods will want to be competing into his 40s. He could be a senator from California by then. Remember, Nicklaus won his last major when he was 46 and Snead won his last PGA Tour event when he was in his 50s. To pass Snead, Tiger will have to average three victories a year for the next 11 years. That’s a tall order.
For what it’s worth, I think Sobel’s right. Barring injury, Woods will want to not only pass but obliterate Nicklaus’ record. Even as competitive as the PGA Tour is, he is on pace to do that. He’ll likely pass Sneed just by accident. Indeed, the only thing working against him is that, because he’s so rich and so laser focused on the Majors, he skips a lot of weekends. But if he put his mind to it, he could win another 32 events before his 35th birthday, let alone that Senate run. Which, by the way, will be from Florida, not California.
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