Posted: Thursday May 26, 2005 12:28PM; Updated: Thursday May 26, 2005 3:33PM
Want to see golf from the fan's perspective? Then welcome to From The Gallery. SI.com's Scott Wraight's weekly Front Nine will focus on a specific golf topic and offer up a list of the nine best (or worst) as he sees it. And if you want to weigh in on the topic, just fill in the blanks of our reader reaction box below the list.
Tiger Woods' cut streak wasn't supposed to ever end -- especially at the Byron Nelson Championship. Sure, the field was loaded, but Tiger's game was headed in the right direction, right? And he always managed to make the clutch putts, didn't he?
Well, Eldrick missed a 15-foot par putt earlier this month that put a screeching halt to his 142 consecutive made cuts streak. SI.com colleague Mike McAllister said Tiger was overdue to miss a cut. True, but it's still a bit of a shock.
When you talk about Tiger's cut streak, you're talking about one of the most impressive PGA Tour records ... ever. Like Tiger's cut record, there are a number of impressive records that are sprinkled throughout the Tour record books.
Whether it was a mark of longevity or an amazingly hot streak, these are the most impressive golf records (in my humble opinion). Oh, and if you're wondering why the lowest 18-hole score is not on the list ... well, I decided to rule out records based on a single day or single tournament. Thus, the 59s of Al Geiberger, Chip Beck and David Duval will have to wait another day.
1.Byron Nelson's 11 consecutive wins
Much like Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak, this streak will never be broken. Period. Sure, the fields were depleted because of World War II, but that doesn't take away from what Nelson accomplished in 1945. After all, Sam Snead and Ben Hogan played in a number of tournaments during the streak. Hogan (in 1948) and Tiger Woods (in '99-00) have come the closest with six straight wins. With the number of talented golfers on Tour today, I'd be shocked to see anyone win more than four in a row.
2.Jack Nicklaus' 18 major victories
This record, too, will never fall. I'm sure there's a plethora of individuals that think Tiger will break it, but I don't believe it will happen. With interests other than golf, Tiger won't play long enough to seriously challenge the record. Before the Golden Bear came along, Walter Hagen held the record with 11. After that, three golfers have nine: Hogan, Gary Player and Tiger. I predict Tiger pockets another three majors to put him at a very healthy 12 for his career. Sorry, Tiger!
3.Tiger's 142 consecutive cuts
The streak began in Febuary '98 -- and lasted more than seven years until Tiger reached Dallas. When you think about it, if Tiger had a couple of poor rounds at any point, the streak goes bye-bye. There's no doubting the fact that Tiger is, and always will be, a grinder. Before Tiger, Nelson had a streak of 113, and Nicklaus had 105 straight. What's really hard to believe is that Ernie Els now holds the current top spot with 20 straight cuts followed by Stewart Cink with 14.
4.Byron Nelson's 18 victories in 1945
Needless to say, '45 was a magical year for Nelson. Not only did Nelson win 11 straight (see above), but he managed another seven wins. So why won't this record fall? Most of today's top players don't play in nearly enough events. Over the last five years, Tiger has averaged 18.8 tournaments per year, Els 18.0 and Phil Mickelson 23.4. The only exception is Vijay Singh, who averaged 27.2. Tiger ('00) and Singh ('04) have recently come the closest, each winning nine times.
5.Tiger's 52 consecutive rounds of par or better
This streak, which lasted nearly a year, is hard to fathom, considering one terrible hole would have ended it. This emphasizes Tiger's "grinder" label -- even if his round was going poorly during the streak, he always found a way to get back to even par. In '04, Retief Goosen had a streak of 22 straight rounds. And Mickelson had a streak of 21 before it was snapped at the Byron Nelson. It's fairly obvious that no one will come close to passing this mark. I would be very surprised if anyone gets to 30.
6.Byron Nelson's 65 consecutive top 10s
Another record that will never tumble. In recent years, Tiger's streak of 10 straight from '02-03 has been the closest; Singh pocketed six straight from '04-05. And again, it goes back to the fact that today's best players don't play that much; they don't give themselves a serious chance at getting into a season-long groove. Plus, there are just too many good young golfers, making for quality fields each week, even when the established stars are not playing.
7.Sam Snead's 358 career top 10s
During his 48-year career, Snead had 358 top 10s in just 546 events. Nicklaus has 286 in his career; Arnold Palmer managed 245. And Tiger? So far, he has 110. Singh has 128, but he's 42. If someone else was to play for the same 48 years as Snead, he would have to average 7.5 top 10s each year. In a 30-year career, a golfer would have to average 12 top 10s every year to surpass Snead's mark. Last year, Tiger had 14 top 10s. Think Tiger will play for 30 years? Unless Adam Scott plays 60 years, I don't see any golfers getting more than 200.
8.Jack Nicklaus' 17 consecutive years finishing in top 10 of money list
From '62-78, Nicklaus dominated the golf world -- and the money list. The next closest to Nicklaus' mark is Palmer with 11. Tiger currently has eight while Singh has seven. I can see Tiger and Singh getting to 12 or 13. But that's as close as anyone will come. With Tiger, there's the fear of injury. Watching him swing a club, it's hard to believe he hasn't had serious back problems yet. One injury-riddled season could end Tiger's streak. And at 42, Singh might have just 3-4 very good seasons left.
9.Sam Snead's 82 career victories
This is one record that could fall. But one of the elite golfers will have to stick around a while in order to challenge this mark. Tiger has 43 wins at age 29. I'll go out on a limb and say Tiger plays just 10 more years -- I don't see him golfing on the PGA Tour in his 40s. In the last five years, Tiger has averaged five wins. That means in another 10 years, Tiger will have 93 victories. Right now, Tiger is the only golfer with a realistic shot at catching this record.
Just missed the cut:
Tiger's 264 consecutive weeks as No. 1 ranked player; Arnold Palmer's 50 consecutive Masters appearances; Sam Snead's 8 wins at the Greater Greensboro Open (most in one event).
React: The most impressive PGA Tour record? Why?
Here's some reactions to last week's column regarding pros who are easy to root for:
When it comes to rooting for a golfer, I perk up every time I see Tom Lehman's name on the leaderboard. At the 1993 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, I walked nine holes with Lehman and his group as their only fan. He talked to me after nearly every shot and I was excited to hear his thoughts about golf and how great a day it was a Pebble Beach. Then, he came so close in the next four U.S. Opens; it made me root for him more. He is one of the nice guys and I want to see a nice guy win again. -- Rob, Dallas
Jay Haas. A real gentleman on and off the course. He is a good golfer who has been on Tour for years. His concern for his son, Bill, shows what a family man he is. How can you not root for Jay? -- John, Wappingers Falls, N.Y.
I think Sergio Garcia should be taken off the list. He seems to whine too much for my taste. He should definitely be replaced by Mike Weir. He's a class act. -- David, Fresno, Calif.
Tiger Woods. Just because he wins a lot should not disqualify the guy. The fact that he puts on a rather defensive air when interviewed is understandable, given the attention he gets. But this is a guy who never quits, even when he is down. He peforms and shows a lot of creativity. And, there is a personality there who has given something back to the game. Another thing: fellow players like Tiger. -- Richard, Arlington, Va.
Kenny Perry. He is one ill-timed TV interview away from being a major winner and one of the elite golfers of his time. He's a Charles Bartlett award winner, given to a pro for unselfish contributions to society, funds a couple of scholarships at his wife's alma mater and built a golf course with his own money for mid-to-high handicappers that is affordable. The new millenium has been good to him (five of his eight wins have come since '01) and it would be nice to see him win a major. -- Jim, Pequannock, N.J.
Fred Couples. How could he be left of this list? Of modest means, grew up on a muni, saw both his mother and father through cancer and then stood by his girlfriend who was diagnosed not long after they started dating. Through it all, he's followed his own drummer and maintained his grace and generosity to players and fans. -- Phil, Seattle