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Rory Still Not Close to Jack, Tiger

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Last week in referencing Rory I said, “Is he in the “potential greatest of all-time” debate yet?  No, still too soon, but he is without a doubt the most dominate player of this generation.” Apparently that makes me the stupidest person on the planet according to the massive amounts of emails and tweets I got this week.          

Listen, there isn’t much I love more than a good sports debate.  Brady or Montana, MJ or Russell, Federer or Sampras…the list goes on.  I may not agree with you, in fact I probably won’t, but if you have a coherent argument I’ll listen.  The only thing not up for debate in sports is the greatest hockey player of all-time…it’s Wayne Gretzky, period end of story.  If you try and argue otherwise you are simply an idiot. 

With that said this whole notion that Rory is already comparable to Jack and Tiger seems ridiculous to me.  Just thinking about it makes my head hurt more than a Saturday night out with Dustin Johnson.  I feel like I’m taking crazy pills every time I read an article, turn on the TV or get a text/email/tweet trying to compare Rory to Tiger or Jack. It’s not a knock on Rory at all; I just think it’s insanely premature. Rory McIlroy is ridiculously good at golf, but he isn’t even in the same county as Tiger or Jack, much less the same block.  At least not yet. 

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I know, I know, I’m a Tiger homer; but I assure you this has nothing to do with liking Tiger and everything to do with pesky little things I like to call facts.  When you actually take 5 minutes and compare Rory to the two greatest golfers or all-time at this stage in their respected careers it’s comical that people are even trying to insinuate they are similar.  

Let’s be very clear about one thing, Rory isn’t making these statements or comparisons, in fact he is trying everything in his power to separate himself as much as possible from them.  When asked prior to the PGA about it Rory said, "Sometimes I feel that people are too quick to jump to conclusions and jump on the bandwagon and jump on certain things.  I've had a great run of golf, and I've played well over the past few months. So I'm not necessarily sure you can call that an era or the start of an era, but I'm just really happy with where my golf game is at the minute, and I just want to try and continue that for as long as possible."

It’s the rest of the free world that seems to be very confused when it comes to this matter.  The general public by and large are idiots, I have come to understand that and unfortunately just accept that.  Sports writers and TV commentators are just trying to sell a story, I understand that as well.  However what put it over the edge for me is when I saw the Vegas odds recently…because if there is one thing I can always count on in sports it’s the boys in the desert bringing everyone back to reality, and now it looks like even they have lost their mind on this matter.  

The current odds for Rory to win more majors than Tiger Woods is 9/2 (or 4.5/1 for the mathematically challenged).  So let me get this straight, to pass Tiger’s current mark of 14, Rory would have to win as many majors as Walter Hagen did in his entire career (11) going forward.   And Walter Hagen has more majors than anyone PGA player that has ever played the game, with the exception of Tiger and Jack. Oh, ok, got it.  And that’s assuming Tiger never wins another major.  I know most think he is done but even if he wins one more that still moves the number to 16 for Rory to win that bet.  That’s insane.   

I thought that was insane until I saw the next one.  If you want to take Rory to break Jack’s record of 18 majors you win a whopping 6/1.  You are only going to pay me SIX to ONE on a guy that has won four majors in seven years and has to win 12 more going forward (or the combined career Majors won by Mickelson, Faldo AND Couples)?  And people have actually taken this bet? That’s insane.  I take back what I said, Vegas is filled with a bunch of geniuses after all. 

Let me break it down for you so you understand; I'll hold your hand like a small child.

I know the media wants to compare it by age, but McIlroy turned professional in September 2007 so he has been on Tour for seven years.  So for an apples to apples comparison I will just use the first seven years of Jack and Tiger’s career’s. 

The big picture:

Rory - 9 PGA Tour wins including 4 majors. 

Jack - 30 PGA Tour wins including 7 majors.

Tiger - 39 PGA Tour wins including 8 majors.

Which one doesn’t look like the other? 

To put just that stat in comparison, in the history of the PGA Tour only 10 players have more than 39 career wins…and Tiger and Jack are 2 of the 10. 

Multiple Wins:                                                    

Rory – Everyone keeps talking about what a ‘dominant year’ he is having because he has won three in a row.  Ok, but those three wins added to his previous PGA Tour wins in 2014 equals….three. The irony is that his best year on Tour (for total wins) was 2012 when he won the PGA as well three other tournaments for a total of four wins. Rory has also gone winless in three of his first seven years. 

Jack – All he did was win at least 4 times in 4 of his first 7 years (and at least two wins in the other three).  He also had at least two wins in each of his first 16 seasons on tour. 

Tiger - He was even better.  Tiger had at least 4 wins in 6 of his first 7 full seasons including an 8 win season and a 9 win season. For those of you with short memories, that means Tiger had one season where he matched Rory’s entire seven year career win total.

Oh, and since Rory’s back to back to back wins really started this whole comparison let’s not forget that Tiger won 7 in a row (06-07), 6 in a row (99-00), 5 in a row (07-08) and 3 in a row twice (01 and 04).  Tiger also won as many consecutive Majors in a row (the Tiger Slam) as Rory has won in his career. 

Yeah, I’m really starting to see the comparison now. 

Finally, the one everyone is measured on…The Majors:

First Major Win:

Rory – Didn’t qualify for a major his first year on tour and won his first major in his 14th start, 4 years after he turned pro. In a vacuum that’s pretty impressive actually, just ask Sergio, Westood or Kuchar…but when you are being compared to the two greatest to ever play the game it’s miles behind. 

Tiger – Won the Masters by a mere 12 shots in his first major as a pro and won 3 majors in his first 14 starts.     

Jack – Won the US Open in his second major as a pro and won 4 majors in his first 14 starts.    

Major Record:

Rory – He has won 4 of his first 24 majors with four missed cuts and another five outside the top 40.

Jack - He won 7 of his first 24 majors (or 22 to be precise) with two missed cuts, but also had 5 second place finishes and 4 third place finishes.

Tiger – He won 8 of his first 24 majors (or 22 to be precise) with zero missed cuts and didn’t finish outside the top 30 once.  Again, to put that into perspective, only 6 players in the history of golf have 8 or more majors…and Tiger and Jack make up two of them.  Or said another way, Tiger matched Tom Watson’s entire career Major’s record of 8 wins and did it in 7 years.

In fact, it took Tiger until last week (38 years old) to miss the 4th cut in a major of his career.  Jack was also 38 before he missed his 4th cut in a Major.   Rory already has 4 missed cuts in a major. 

Again, this was not at all meant to be on knock on Rory, he is incredible and quite frankly I think he will go on to win 10 majors (maybe even 12) and 40 to 50 PGA Tour events; and that would make him probably one of the top 5 greatest golfers of all-time.  Phil Mickelson in 21 years on tour has 42 PGA tour wins including 5 majors and he is arguably one of the 10 best golfers of all-time. In golf there is room for debate who the 3rd, 4th and 5th greatest golfers of all-time are, there is no debate who the top two are.  So for people to try and compare Rory at this stage in his career to Jack or Tiger is absolutely insane to me.  Someday…maybe, but we have a long way to go to get there.      

Wake me up when (if) Rory gets to 10 total Majors in the next 7 years and then I might listen.

  
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