Everyone’s writing off the 2009 majors as a crummy, what-could-have-been year, and I don’t really get it. We had two playoffs (at Augusta and Turnberry) and brilliant Sunday duels. Angel Cabrera’s stats say that he’s an average player, but those numbers are meaningless. He’s one of the game’s streakiest players, and when he’s hot he’s as good as anyone. Lucas Glover is the same type of player as Cabrera. Stewart Cink’s birdie on 18 at Turnberry showed the mettle of a champion. And Y.E. Yang? Let’s just say that if Tiger had hit that shot into 18 at Hazeltine, people would be writing songs about it.
The relative obscurity of the 2009 winners also places Tiger’s 14 majors in a different light. One thing I’m tired of is older guys talking about how Jack Nicklaus had it tougher than Tiger because Jack had more accomplished rivals: Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer, Johnny Miller. Yeah, and I walked to school every day in the snow, uphill both ways. The truth is just the opposite. No disrespect to Jack, but in his day, you only had 10 to 15 guys in the field who were capable of winning a major championship. Today you have about 100 guys playing in the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship who can win the thing (and about 50 who can win the Masters).
Think about it. When Jack didn’t win, fewer guys were seriously in the hunt so you saw more multiple major winners in his day. When Tiger doesn’t win, dozens of guys are capable of taking the tournament. That makes Vijay’s, Padraig’s and Phil’s three majors look more impressive, and Tiger’s 14 look almost unbelievable.