In Woods won by Nicklaus' biggest victory margin in the Open Championship was two shots, in at St. A little more than two decades later on the same course, Woods won by eight. Jack had the better career, but Tiger, at his best, was the better player. Nobody could have been that much better than Nicklaus, but Woods was. The facts are impressive enough — he won the year's first two majors before he turned 22 — something that Jones, Nicklaus and Woods never did. Spieth's winning Masters score of 18 under tied the record set by Woods on a course that was yards shorter in And Spieth became the youngest U.
Open champion since Jones in Spieth also — with a white-hot media spotlight glaring on his quest for the first three legs of the modern Grand Slam — finished just one shot out of a playoff at St.
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Andrews, then capped his major season with a second-place finish at the PGA. It is said to be dubious, even odious, to compare players of different eras. The objection, I suppose, is that it inevitably robs one generation of some of the joy of their fanaticism for an athlete if the comparison deems that athlete to be less of a genius. But genius transcends generations, and so there is much to be learned by juxtaposing and contrasting the best players of various eras.
Jones, Nicklaus and Woods share various aspects of their swings, a subject for which I have a sweet tooth and go into great detail about in my book, "The Anatomy Of Greatness," which will be published early this year. But what made them who they were was more about the mind than their muscle. This is true of Spieth, as well.
Like this trio of greats, he seems to have clarity of purpose that allows him to play without insecurities, but also to not make decisions on the golf course based upon ego.
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The battle between insecurity and ego impoverishes almost every player at some point. But the very best live between these two thieves and are never distracted by either.
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Free to rely on their athleticism, they have a clear mind for contemplation, to consider myriad factors such as wind, lie, firmness of green, adrenaline, even grain. And this is to say nothing of the supreme confidence that comes with that athleticism and contemplation. These mental gifts, less obvious than the physical ones, perpetuate themselves.
More than talent, they are why these four men won majors in their early 20s. It has been said that athletes are like blocks of ice and all of them are melting, which is a commentary on their physical skills and the race that an athlete faces against time.
20 Greatest Golfers of All Time (Updated)
But when a golfer wins a major championship in his early 20s, he likely has something far less perishable than talent. That quality has served golf's early achievers well throughout their careers. In all likelihood, it will prove to do the same for Spieth. Tiger has been less than impressive over his most recent two major starts.
But that only goes to show how remarkable his performance was at Augusta National.
20 Greatest Golfers of All Time (Updated)
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