Tiger vs. Nobody

January 6, 2010
By Anonymous

Rivalries define sports and the careers of those athletes involved, especially in individual sports like tennis and golf. Such rivalries in the past include: Pete Sampras vs. Andre Agassi and Arnold Palmer vs. Jack Nicklaus; And in the present such rivalries include: Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal and Tiger Woods vs. … Nobody.
Dave Larzelere, the author of “Tiger vs. Nobody,” argues his points in favor of Woods. He states that in golf, “The best golfers play the course and not the man.” And for this reason Larzelere advocates that rivalries in golf do not define a player’s career, and that true rivalry matchups do not exist in golf. He believes the only true rivalry in golf is between Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus. Only because Tiger is chasing Jack’s record setting 18 major championships.
Tiger is the only dominant individual to emerge since Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. He has had “his share of career-defining duels- Sergio at Medinah, Bob May at Valhalla, Chris DiMarco at the Masters- you never got the sense that he was playing those guys exactly, although they most definitely were playing him.” This is where Larzelere is wrong; the lack of a competitive rival in Tiger’s era will hurt his legacy. None of these players Larzelere named off had ever been in that position during a major championship. For this reason, they struggled down the final few holes and got the sense that they were ‘feeling the pressure.’

Golf is a game where a superior mind wins championships. And the more a player puts themselves in position on Sunday, the better under pressure he will become. Arnie and Jack were both accomplished players and were in this position on Sunday tournament after tournament and molded their minds to championship caliber. This made winning major championships that much tougher; for both Arnie and Jack had the experience to dominate a golf tournament. Tiger has this dominating ability and has proved it through these epic duos; however, has proved his abilities on inferior opponents. Whereas Jack was forced to battle Arnold Palmer, the ten year older “uncontested champion and icon who drew raucous hordes of fans.”

The overall skill level has improved in Tiger’s era, but skill alone does not win majors. The missing ingredients that Arnie and Jack both had: mental toughness and experience. Until an opposing dominant player comes about in Tiger’s era, his legacy will never hold up to Jack’s.

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