Tiger Woods never come from Behind to Win?

Tiger Woods*** UPDATE ****

Having won the 2019 Masters Championship after starting the day behind the leader this argument is no longer valid … or is it? Haters will find something new. Tiger never won a Major Championship when not starting in the last group!

**** END UPDATE ***

I’m a pretty big fan of golf having worked in the industry for a number of years in my youth. I’m also a proponent of good critical thinking skills and the two have come together in a way that gives me an opportunity to illustrate my point.

If you watch golf with any regularity, or follow it in the news, you have seen the following or something similar to it many times in the last few years:

Tiger has never come from behind to win a major tournament.

This statement bothers me like you cannot imagine. Every time I hear it I want to break a 9-iron. First, some background.

Tiger Woods is a pretty good golfer and he had a huge number of fans at one point in his career. He turned professional in 1996 after a sterling amateur career that included three U.S. Junior Amateur wins, three U.S. Amateur wins, and two NCAA golf titles. Once he turned professional he started winning tournaments and what are called Major Tournaments with regularity.

He has so far won on the regular PGA Tour 78 times, second most all-time, and 39 times on the European Tour which is third all-time. He also won fourteen of the so-called Major Championships which include the Masters, the U.S. Open, The Open, and the PGA Championship.

Until November of 2009 he was widely admired and universally considered the best golfer in the world. Shortly thereafter a series of incidents led to him admitting multiple incidents of marital infidelity.

Since that time Tiger has not won a Major Tournament and many of his legion of followers became a legion of haters. They don’t like what he did to his wife and they root against him. It is from this group you will hear the statement mentioned above the most.

I’m no Tiger fan. I think what he did was reprehensible and if his former wife Elin is looking for a date I am available. That being said; I choose to look at his professional career objectively.

He is no longer the dominant player he was prior to his awful behavior, that cannot be denied. He has won no major championships but he has won seven times on the PGA tour and once on the European tour since then. Only a few have done better over the same time frame. He is currently ranked #1 in the world.

But now let’s get back to my point and examine the idea that Tiger has never come back to win a Major title in his career.

A golf tournament consists of 72 holes broken down into four eighteen hole rounds. Tiger has come back to win Major Tournaments after being behind after the 1st round, the 2nd round, midway through the third round, and at different points in the 4th and final round including being behind after 71 holes at the 2008 U.S. Open. The only set of circumstances he has not come from behind to win is when he was not ahead at the conclusion of the 3rd round, or 54 holes.

This sort of selective logic bothers me greatly. I think it’s fine to dislike Tiger Woods, to root against him. You can certainly say that his play has slipped since 2009 using many factual arguments. The claim that he has never come from behind to win a Major Championship is ludicrous. When you say that to people you are passing along a lie.

This sort of thinking is the kind of logic I see all too often. I want something to be true and I find any narrow factual circumstance where the thing is true and use that to support my belief. I ignore other pertinent facts because I want to believe something so badly. This kind of thinking is dangerous because you can actually convince yourself that something is true that is actually false. This will lead you to erroneous conclusions, bad decisions.

Bad decisions hurt everyone involved; you, your family, your business. Don’t strive for them. Strive to avoid them!

Think clearly, find facts, make informed, logical decisions. You’ll find your life improves even if it means there are fewer bad things to say about Tiger Woods.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water ($2.99 – Buy it! Seriously, I could use the money)
Upcoming Release: The Spear of the Hunt

14 thoughts on “Tiger Woods never come from Behind to Win?

  1. The end of rounds are major benchmarks. Ups and downs in a round are important, but he can never come from behind in a major even when given 18 holes to do so. It is different and why it is referred to a lot.

    Being a Bama grad, if someone said Bama has never won a game when trailing at the end of the 3rd qtr, it would be huge. 15 minutes and can never get it done. WOW.

    Actually, it is important. Jack did it 8 times. Staring down the competition neck and neck, can Tiger get it done?

    I hate him and the way the spineless, money hungry networks refuse to make comparisons to Jack.

    #2 speaks to what the whole Tiger never has come back from 54 hole when trailing. When the pressure is on, he hasn’t got it done. Had he had the pressure that Jack had, he would not have 14.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/gameon/2013/04/15/tiger-woods-jack-nicklaus-comparison/2083049/

    • But he has come back to win in the middle of the 4th Round while “Staring down the competition neck and neck …” as you say.

      As I mention in my blog, Tiger has come back in Majors from just about every hole count except 54. He’s also come back to win tournaments that are not majors after 54 holes (multiple times).

      I think it’s an example used by people who don’t like Tiger and find one example to fit their ideology.

      Also, I’m not sure what networks you are watching but I see comparisons between Nicklaus and Woods almost constantly.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Tom

  2. Trailing by one, or two holes and getting done is vastly different than trailing with 18 left and not getting it done. The fact that he has never done it has a synergy affect. At some point it becomes a predictor. You have 18 holes to find your greatness and prevail and you can’t over and over again.

    Ideology? How bout fact! Jack 8, Tiger 0.

    Tell me where I can find the comparison of Jacks competition vs Tiger’s. Please, I want to see that.

    Overall, the current depth of fields and reach of international talent exceeds that in the days of Nicklaus. There are more talented golfers coming from more diverse locales, but very few of Woods’ contemporaries have stepped up in majors. The two active players with more than three major titles – Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els – are rarely direct rivals for Woods. Nicklaus, on the other hand, played with Gary Player (nine majors), Tom Watson (eight), Arnold Palmer (seven), Lee Trevino (six) and Seve Ballesteros (five). While Nicklaus finished second more than 10 times to players on that list, Woods’ runner-up finishes have been to one-hit wonders like Trevor Immelman, Zach Johnson, Rich Beem, Y.E. Yang and Michael Campbell. There have been few worthy adversaries.

    How many times has Michelson choked when Tiger is no where in sight?

    If Bama plays nobody and wins all its games, then how can it be considered great?

    • Hi Mike,

      I think one of the issues here is you want to compare Woods to Nicklaus which was not what my blog post was about. My post was more about how cherry picking one statistic that coincides with a particular ideology can be dangerous.

      Let me ask you a theoretical question. Let’s say Tiger had come back from 54 holes to win a major but had never come back from behind during the final round.

      It seems to me you are saying you would not be as critical of Woods under these circumstances because coming back during the round is less difficult than coming back over an entire round.

      What do you think you would say under those circumstances?

      Also, another question. Do you think because of your personal distaste for Woods you search out statistics that paint him in a bad light?

      Finally, it seems to me you are primarily focused on the Nicklaus/Woods career comparison more than anything else. As I mentioned earlier, that wasn’t at all the focus of my blog. So, I think we might be discussing different points.

      My only point is that when someone says “Tiger has never come back to win a major” they are practicing to deceive. He has come back from almost every situation except 54 holes (where he has emerged victorious three times when tied and four times when a single stroke ahead).

      Another question I just thought about. What if we looked at all of Alabama’s national championships and found that in not a single instance they had come back from being behind after the 3rd quarter in a National Championship Game (a possibility as there haven’t been that many such games). Would that make you think less of Alabama?

      I guess my overall point is that I think your distaste for Tiger is driving your thinking more than a logical analysis.

      Anyway, thanks for commenting again!

      Tom

      • Mike absolutely nailed it and you have not refuted adequately IMO.

        Tell me where I can find the comparison of Jacks competition vs Tiger’s. Please, I want to see that.

        Overall, the current depth of fields and reach of international talent exceeds that in the days of Nicklaus. There are more talented golfers coming from more diverse locales, but very few of Woods’ contemporaries have stepped up in majors. The two active players with more than three major titles – Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els – are rarely direct rivals for Woods. Nicklaus, on the other hand, played with Gary Player (nine majors), Tom Watson (eight), Arnold Palmer (seven), Lee Trevino (six) and Seve Ballesteros (five). While Nicklaus finished second more than 10 times to players on that list, Woods’ runner-up finishes have been to one-hit wonders like Trevor Immelman, Zach Johnson, Rich Beem, Y.E. Yang and Michael Campbell. There have been few worthy adversaries. (Cannot say that about Zack Johnson anymore, though.)

        • I would suggest typing Tiger Woods v. Jack Nicklaus in the search engine of your choice. I came up with a number of results showing various comparisons.

          You state the talent is far deeper today than in previous generations and then argue that Tiger has faced lesser competition because that deeper talent base has meant less dominance by a small number of players. This seems contradictory to me. With lesser competition, a few players won more majors than in the current fields.

          But, the bottom line argument isn’t Tiger v. Nicklaus, as I’ve stated over and over again in this thread. It’s the argument that Tiger has never come from behind to win a major championship. He has come from behind at every stage of the competition except 54 holes precisely. And, he has won three times when tied after 54 holes and four more times when a single stroke ahead. The idea that being a stroke behind, tied, or a stroke ahead in these circumstances are of some great difference is, in my opinion, just projections of dislike of Tiger rather than logical conclusions.

          Finally, I think it’s often more difficult to win from the front because when you have the lead that’s where the pressure is really on to win. When you’re behind, there is less pressure.

          Tom

  3. Right on Tom. Tiger will probably never win another major. I certainly hope not. He is a great golfer, but not the greatest of all time. Jack is the greatest of all time. Incidentally, I was a huge Arnold Palmer fan, and Nicholas drover me nuts.

    Bob

  4. I totally agree with what Tom is saying here, and I find it hard to comprehend how illogical people can be at times. Most of the responses here are emotional even though the respondents think they are rational and logical. Their remarks are post hoc constructions that choose the statistics that reinforce their stories. It is interesting to hear people try to compare Nicklaus to Woods and act like they are being logical, when ironically they are claiming at the same time that they haven’t done any due diligence on this matter because the comparisons don’t exist. Ask those same people who is number six all time, and they cannot tell you, because the reality is their opinions are emotional and not grounded in due diligence. Here is a question. How many times was Tiger Woods behind at the end of 54 holes by a score that one could reasonably expect him to come back from? I do not know the answer to that question. But I am also not committing the gamblers fallacy by judging him for it. I know that he was tied or ahead seven times after 54 holes. But for all I know, when he was behind, he was behind by 7 or more strokes. If there is anyone who is responding to Tom‘s comments on this thread who does not know the answer to that question, then you really don’t know what you are talking about. Because you’re judging Tiger for not having come back to win while trailing at 54 holes, when you do not even know if it was possible for him to come back because you don’t know what his scores were at the end of 54 holes when he was trailing. If you do know then you should be citing those kinds of facts to make your point. But you don’t know, because you haven’t really done your due diligence. You are just spewing a bunch of emotional nonsense.

  5. I think the point is that Eldrick has never won a major unless he had the lead or was tied for the lead entering the final round.

    • My point was that Tiger has “come from behind” to win when trailing in 70 of the 71 possible circumstances. When trailing after 1 hole through 71 holes with the sole exception of the 54th hole. Therefore, saying he has “never come from behind to win” is using extremely narrow circumstances to make a point that would otherwise seem to be totally invalid. It being made because of a personal dislike for the person in question.

  6. Now you don’t have to make the point Tom. Congrats to Tiger and his come back after trailing at 54 holes this weekend.

    • Thanks, Karl. On a more pragmatic note I’m afraid this blog post isn’t going to be getting nearly as many clicks. Sadness.

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