With his victory at the Players Championship, world No. 1 Tiger Woods notched his 78th PGA Tour victory at the age of 37, moving him closer to career-victory leader Sam Snead's 82 wins. Snead, for his part, racked up his wins over a 30-year career. Tiger's reached his mark in just 18 years.
Mind-boggling? Not when compared with the achievements on this list.
For all of the staggering achievements of his amateur and professional careers—from his three U.S. Junior Amateurs through his 14th major—there are a few that stand above the rest as truly mind-blowing.
Tiger Woods improved his record when holding at least a share of the lead after 54 holes with his win at the Players Championship to an outrageous 53-4. Furthermore, he's 41-2 when holding the outright lead entering the final round of a tournament.
It's impossible to conceive of the difficulty of closing out a golf tournament once. The vast majority of professional golfers never find themselves in such a position. The vast majority of those who do can't close. What does it say, then, that Woods has achieved victory nearly 94 percent of the time? Simply that he is one of the most, if not the most, dominant individual athletes of all time.
Looking at the past three winners of the Vardon Trophy—the PGA's annual award given to the player with the lowest scoring average—their averages were 68.87, 68.86 and 69.61, respectively.
Tiger's average in 2000 was 67.79. He matched this unbelievable figure again in 2007. There's no apples-to-apples comparison in scoring averages across multiple years, to be sure. However, to think that Tiger's average in 2000 was a whole stroke better than the best averages of the past three years is incredible.
What would be an adequate comparison? A league-leading quarterback averaging 50 additional passing yards? A leading NBA scorer averaging an additional five points? Whatever parallels you draw, Tiger's scoring averages in 2000 and 2007 were mind-boggling.
One of the great bits of statistical evidence for Tiger's relentless determination to win and ability to grind out the best score possible is his streak of cuts made. From 1998 through the 2005 Byron Nelson Championship, Tiger made 142 straight cuts. Woods bettered the previous top mark: Byron Nelson's 114 consecutive cuts by 28. As there were significantly fewer cuts in Mr. Nelson's day, however, a direct comparison isn't really appropriate.
In an era when it's uncommon for even the best players to get into the double digits in consecutive cuts, Tiger's streak of 142 cuts is testament to the golfer's unflinching resolve.
Winning at the rate TW has since 1996 is truly mind-boggling.
Sam Snead, who holds the all-time record for victories on the PGA Tour, won at about a 10 percent clip. Tiger, for his part, has won 78 out of the 286 times he's teed it up on the PGA Tour. That's right, he's won a mind-blowing 27.3 percent of the tournaments he's entered.
Woods' winning percentage is unparalleled. Furthermore, in nearly one out of every three starts, Tiger wins. It's hard to draw an analogy here, but imagine a basketball team playing like the '72 Lakers for nearly 20 years straight.
Of all of Tiger's wins, majors or otherwise, his triumph at the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach is the apotheosis of his ability to to embarrassingly and brilliantly outplay the rest of the field and dominate a difficult track.
Sure, the 1997 win at Augusta was impressive in a similar vein (and because of the additional element of the golfer barely being old enough to drink). However, Tiger's 15-stroke victory at Pebble Beach will stand beside the incredible achievements in sport—Wilt Chamberlain's 100 points, Roger Bannister's sub-four-minute mile—as a milestone and contextual pinnacle of achievement.