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Tiger Woods vs. Jack Nicklaus: The Tale of the Tape

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Tiger Woods vs. Jack Nicklaus: The Tale of the Tape

Tiger Woods vs. Jack Nicklaus: The Tale of the Tape

Tiger Woods' win at the 2018 Tour Championship was one of the transcedent moments of his legendary career. It gave him 80 career wins, second only to Sam Snead's 82 in PGA Tour history, and it proved that he remains the world's most compelling individual sportsman when he's at his best. 

But how does he compare at this point to the game's gold standard? By some metrics — namely, major championship performance — Woods trails Jack Nicklaus, and he probably always will.

Tiger came out of the gate with Nicklaus' major championship record as his ultimate target. That number — 18 career major championship wins — seemed utterly out of reach, until Tiger started winning majors with alarming regularity.

For a long time, Woods was well ahead of Nicklaus' career pace, but a major championship drought that has now exceeded 10 years in duration has put a serious dent in Tiger's major aspirations. Of course, Nicklaus won his last major at age 46, and now that Tiger has completed his comeback from golf oblivion, he still has time to catch the Golden Bear.

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The oldest player to win a major: Julius Boros, who won the PGA Championship at age 48. Woods turns 48 in December 2023. Between now and then, there will be 20 major championships contested; Woods needs to win five of them to reach his career Holy Grail of 19 major championships.

Of course, Tiger has already moved well past Nicklaus into second on the Tour's all-time wins ledger. Tiger trails only Sam Snead, who won 82 times over a 30-year span; Woods has crammed his 80 wins into 23 amazing, occasionally storm-tossed and injury-plagued years.

So let's compare Tiger and Jack through their age-42 seasons.


Bottom line from the data presented here: Tiger has built the better overall career, but Jack remains the greatest performer in major championship history. That's the carrot that Tiger has always been chasing, and he's running out of time to get there.

Tiger Woods-Jack Nicklaus Career Comparison (Through Age-42 Season)

 

TIGER WOODS

JACK NICKLAUS

Tournaments won    

80

71

Majors won         

14

17

Major winning % (as professional)      

17.5

18.7

Major top 5s      

31

55

Major top 10s

38

66

Longest streak of top-5 in majors   

6

7

Longest streak of top-10 in majors

8

13

Lowest scoring avg.             

9 times

8 times

Money leader      

10 times

8 times