Just when it appeared Roger Federer was indomitable, he lost the US Open to the sixth seeded Juan Martin del Potro on Monday. It kinda reminded me of how Y.E. Yang upset Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship. Well, Tiger and Fed are only human (shocking!).
Nonetheless, Tiger and Federer are the best athletes ever in the history of their respective sports. Period. But who is more dominant? (OEG: Yes, I know you can’t compare golf and tennis — as you say, apples and oranges. Think of this as purely a thought exercise.)
Tough call. Both have broken a gazillion records and repeatedly hit shots we didn’t think were humanly possible. But…I think Tiger is more dominant. There’s more competition and talent in golf than tennis. He plays against the entire field each week and anyone from a no-name to Phil can beat him. And he still manages to win consistently (in an “inconsistent” sport). Having an “off” year and coming back from knee surgery, no less, he won 6 times. And the season isn’t over yet.
I was talking with Shane Bacon and he made a good point. He said it’s too easy for Federer to run through the first three rounds at Grand Slams. Meanwhile, if Tiger has a bad first or second round (like the British Open this year), he’s done — just in terms of golf’s talent pool being larger.
While Federer broke the all-time record for singles titles after he won Wimbledon this year, Tiger has yet to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 career major championships. But he will. Tiger is 33 and already has 14. Nicklaus got his 18th when he was 46. Do the math. Also, Tiger has 6 seasons where he has 6 or more wins. Nicklaus has 2 where he had 7.
With 61 career singles titles, Federer isn’t close to catching Jimmy Connors’ record of 109. Tiger is third for most PGA Tour victories with 71 behind Sam Snead and Jack Nicklaus, who have 109 and 73, respectively. Tiger will trump Snead’s record in, like, 3 years…max.
So, there you have it: Tiger > Federer. But the argument can be made the other way, too. Go for it.
[Photos (L to R) by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images & Gregory Shamus/Getty Images]