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Over and Out: Roger Federer World's Greatest After Tiger Woods' Open Failure

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Over and Out: Roger Federer World's Greatest After Tiger Woods' Open Failure
(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Though I had recently raised questions regarding the state of Tiger Woods' game since his return from knee surgery, even I was stunned by Friday's result at Turnberry.

All golf fans have grown accustomed to watching Woods throw clubs, hurl curses and engage in other self-motivational tactics in order to help himself reach a level of play that is unmatched in today's field.

What we are not used to seeing, however, is the resignation which set in for Woods as he strode—like a sailor walking a plank—the fairways of the 2009 British Open's back nine during his second, and final, round.

As Tiger endured the disastrous string of holes which would ultimately lead to his missing the cut at The Open Championship, his ire turned to calm, his ferocity became acceptance.

This sight may have been better received than the vision of Tiger taking an angry swipe at the air with his arm, but Woods' gaze of serenity is something that is likely to take some time for fans to accept.

Tiger Woods has now played in three major championships since his return from reconstructive knee surgery. He has won none of them.

Additionally, Woods has not captured any of the past five major titles that have been contested in his sport.

Will Tiger win the upcoming PGA Championship and salvage his season? Remember, Woods is solely focused on capturing major titles, not earning first place at events like the Arnold Palmer Invitational or even his own AT&T National. The majors—and catching Jack Nicklaus—are the thing for Tiger.

Are we witnessing the beginning of another "Tiger Slump?" Or is Woods' humiliation at Turnberry just a blip on the radar screen, and not the start of another relative period in the major championship wilderness such as the one which Tiger encountered during the 2003 and 2004 seasons?

Time will provide those answers.

What is no longer in question, however, is that Woods' failure at the British Open leaves him undoubtedly behind his friend, Roger Federer, in the conversation of who is the world's greatest and most dominant sportsman.

In truth, this debate had already been settled following Federer's victory at Wimbledon 2009. Yet, some golf and Tiger fans avoided the inevitable conclusion, perhaps blinded by Woods' celebrity, popularity or their personal affinity for him.

Tiger's missed cut at Turnberry ends those thoughts. There have been no "missed cuts" for Federer during more than five continuous years of tennis majors competition.

The Swiss has at least reached the semifinals in each of 21 consecutive major tennis tournaments. This incredible streak is by far the longest such mark in the history of Federer's sport.

Not only does Federer have 15 major championships compared with Woods' 14, the tennis ace has also won three of the past four such events relative to Tiger's zero during that same stretch.

Roger Federer is the most dominant and greatest major-sport athlete in the world today. He will remain so even should Tiger Woods win the 2009 PGA Championship and Federer fail to defend his 2008 US Open title next month.

Should such a scenario unfold, and the two men once again be tied in major championship victories, Federer would still maintain the edge over Woods due to Roger's consistency, his recent success and because of what happened to Woods in the British Open.

Of course, this opinion might need revisiting should Federer face a calamity at the US Open similar to that which befell Tiger at Turnberry. Something, say, like losing in the first or second round against a qualifier.

For now, however, Tiger Woods and his fans should not be concerned with catching Roger Federer in the mythical rankings of the World's Greatest Athlete contest.

Woods should, instead, focus on taking home the 2009 PGA Championship trophy and reestablishing his aura of invincibility within golf.

If the past 12 months are any indication, Roger Federer won't be going anywhere. Tiger is likely to have plenty of time in the future to knock his fellow Nike pitchman from off Federer's current lofty perch atop the sports world.

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