8-Time PGA Tour Winner Pinpoints Why Tiger Woods Was So Dominant in His Prime

Tiger Woods

Getty Tiger Woods during the 2007 PGA Tour Championship.

While Tiger Woods obviously wasn’t unbeatable during his prime, it certainly felt that way at times, not only to golf fans fortunate enough to witness his incredible performances over the years but to his fellow competitors as well. 

Geoff Ogilvy was one of the best players in the world during one of Tiger’s most dominant stretches in the mid-2000s into the early 2010s. The Aussie recorded seven PGA Tour victories between February 2005 and January 2010, including the 2006 U.S. Open, and was once ranked as high as No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking (he added an eighth win in 2014). But even he felt outclassed competing against Woods.

During an interview on the February 20 episode of Golf.com’s “Subpar” podcast, Ogilvy told hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz as much and pinpointed the trait that set Tiger apart from the rest of the field: clutchness. 

“You weren’t going to beat him. No one was going to beat him. He was special. Tiger, every single time there was high expectations, he’d go and do well,” Ogilvy said. “And so he goes and wins the tournament. That, to me, was the best.

“I mean, we’ve all played with guys like DJ and Brooks and Scotty and Sergio and these guys who can play outrageous golf,” Ogilvy continued. “It’s just like, wow, this is a really high level. But Tiger, every time the expectations were high, he met them or exceeded them every single time. Never didn’t exceed expectations.”

Tiger Woods Rarely Lost When Leading Late

There’s undoubtedly more than enough evidence to support Ogilvy’s argument. For starters, there’s the matter of Tiger’s 82 PGA Tour victories, which ties him with Sam Snead for the most all-time, and his 15 major championship wins, second only to the 18 captured by Jack Nicklaus. 

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

During the podcast, Ogilvy said how he would observe Tiger during a tournament and how his demeanor changed as it progressed. 

“He was a genius at finishing 72 holes in front of everyone else,” Ogilvy stated. “I mean, Thursday, Friday, he was pretty casual, and you’d be talking; it was like a normal Thursday, Friday with anyone else. Saturday, he’d be a little bit more serious, and Sunday, you couldn’t talk to him. Like, he just wouldn’t even look anyone in the eye.”

And it was in those Saturday and Sunday rounds when Woods’ unparalleled clutch gene kicked in. 

When Tiger held at least a share of the lead after 36 holes, he won 39 of 50 events. When holding at least a share of the lead after 54 holes, he went 55-4. And when holding the outright lead after 54 holes, he went 44-2.

When leading by more than one shot at the 54-hole mark, Tiger only lost once, that being the 2009 PGA Championship when Y.E. Yang overcame a two-shot deficit to win by three. 

That’s the epitome of coming through in the clutch. 

Tiger Owns the Highest Winning Percentage in PGA Tour History

Again, while Tiger wasn’t unbeatable, it sometimes seemed that way. During his record-setting 2000 campaign in which he won three major championships, Woods won a ridiculous 45% of his starts, taking titles in nine of his 20 starts and recording 17 top-10 finishes. 

And while his overall winning percentage has dipped over the last few years, Woods still owns the highest mark in history at 21.9%. 

To put that in perspective, Snead won 14% of his starts. Nicklaus, who sits in third place on the all-time PGA Tour victories list with 73, won 12.5% of his starts

That’s how dominant Tiger Woods was.

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