Is Tiger Woods The Greatest Golfer Ever -- Or Is He Vastly Overrated?

Darrell HorwitzSenior Writer IIMarch 19, 2010

DUBLIN, OH - JUNE 07: Jack Nicklaus presents Tiger Woods with the trophy after his one-stroke victory at the Memorial Tournament at the Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 7, 2009 in Dublin, Ohio. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Now that one of the biggest events in recent memory is about to happen with the return of Tiger Woods, at least according to the media who are prone to overhyping such things, the time has come to look at his legacy and if he really is worth the hype.

Woods is chasing Jack Nicklaus and his 18 major championships. Surpassing him will cement Woods' as the greatest golfer of all time, even though those words have been echoed even before he won his first Masters in 1997.

In fact, I think they've been saying that since he first appeared on the Mike Douglas Show as a two-year-old.

Woods is currently sitting on 14 majors, and is making his return at the Masters in Augusta, the scene of some of his greatest career triumphs.

But is Woods really the best golfer ever? 

Isn't the past never considered as good as the present?

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Is that because we all want to believe that what we're seeing before our very own eyes is the best to ever live, and we can tell our kids and grandkids about it?

Of course, they won't buy into that because by the time they hear the story, Tiger Woods will be as much of a relic as Jack Nicklaus.

But aside from that, how good is Tiger Woods?

Doesn't he psych out his competion before they even tee off on the first hole?

Remember Mike Tyson back in the day when he was the most feared man on the planet?

Big muscular men would wet themselves at the site of him strutting to the ring is his black socks. They were defeated before the ref even gave them their instructions.

Isn't it the same thing with today's golfers facing Tiger Woods?

What's that stain on Phil Mickleson's pants? It's not what I think it is, is it?

And that gets right to his competition. It's not very good. Mickelson is probably the best of the lot, but how good is he?

Does he compare to the golfers Nicklaus faced like Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Billy Casper, Raymond Floyd, etc? Should I go on?

Mickelson, Vijay Singh, and Ernie Els, to name some of the better players today, are not in the same league.

You hear the critics say that the depth of players is deeper today and that's great, but with March Madness upon us right now, does the 16 seed ever beat the No. 1?

I don't care if the 100th best golfer today is far better than those in Nicklaus's days. They are not the competition for Tiger.

Only the top guys are and they're not that good.

Think of Michael Jordan in basketball, widely acknowledged as the best that ever lived. He played against people like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, and Dominique Wilkins.

Making a comparison with today's game of basketball and the competition that Tiger Woods is facing, that would be like MJ competing against current Bull player Luol Deng. He's a nice player, but certainly in a different league.

The reason I bring Michael Jordan up is because I would like to compare him to Woods.

Jordan dominated against the best competition in his sport and never lost in the NBA finals.

Compare how good Jordan was and a whole team of players doing anything to stop him. Think of the "Jordan Rules" that the Detroit Pistons employed in the late 80's as an example.

Who stops Tiger?

Well, maybe a whisper from a fan in the gallery or the flash of a camera, but not his competition.

The only one that can stop him is himself. There's nobody passing out balloons or signs to wave while he's putting the ball like in an NBA game when a player is shooting a free throw.

There is complete silence, and God help the person who utters a sound when Tiger is teeing up.

If Michael Jordan was as good a golfer as he was a basketball player, and he was facing the the type of competition that Tiger faces, would he ever lose a tournament?

I know he wouldn't win every one, because even the best have an off day, but wouldn't he win far more than Tiger has won in his career?  

Tiger is a great golfer, and easily better than anyone playing today. But that's why he's so good.

I'm not even taking into account the improvements in the equipment used, what we know about nutrition today, and the other advances that normally happen over time.

Those are all considerations that have to be made before declaring him the best golfer ever.

Give me the guy with the paunch, who played against the best, and not only won 18 majors, but also had 19 second place finishes.

Sometimes things that happened in the past are better. For those that don't realize that, maybe they need a history lesson.