Whose career would differ most if Tiger Woods never existed?
Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, and Vijay Singh -- whose career would look the most different without Tiger Woods around? Answer: none of them.
This is clearly a hypothetical and hypotheticals can be silly because they aren't real but hey this is a golf blog and we can discuss whatever we want!
And lately -- with all the talk of Tiger Woods' injuries and lost aura -- I wondered whose careers would be the most different if Woods had taken up tennis or baseball or hoops instead.
Who would have benefitted the most and who do we perceive would have benefitted but actually wouldn't have that much?
Let's take a look at the five golfers whose careers would have been most different.
1. Chris DiMarco -- A lot of golfers growing up now know DiMarco as "that dude on the Golf Channel who likes Florida" but if it wasn't for Tiger DiMarco would be a two-time major winner (2005 Masters, 2006 British Open).
2. Ernie Els -- Els was runner up at the 2000 US Open (along with Miguel Angel Jimenez) and 2000 British Open (along with Thomas Bjorn), although to say you were runner up at the 2000 US Open is like saying you showed up to the event.
Still, the Big Easy could have five or six majors which is worlds away from the four he has. 27 golfers have four or more majors, only 13 have six or more.
3. Bob May, Woody Austin, Rocco Mediate -- All zero-time major winners who could have won one each without Tiger.
4. Vijay Singh -- Singh has finished second to Woods more times (six) than anyone else though strangely never in a major. Still, six more wins would put the Fijian at 40 which only 10 other men have accomplished on the PGA Tour.
5. Sergio Garcia -- He only finished runner-up to Woods twice but you have to think the arc of his career is at least a little bit different if he wins that epic 1999 PGA Championship dual ad Medinah.
I think one false perception is that Phil Mickelson would have been one of the three or four best golfers ever if Tiger's career had never existed.
That's just not true.
Lefty would have had one more major (2002 US Open) and five more PGA Tour wins (47 instead of 42). Nice, but not life-changing.
By the way, Woods and Mickelson haven't gone 1-2 (in that order) at a tournament since 2005. Golf needs some of that this year.
By the way, since this started as a "who would have the four Masters titles Tiger has" piece I should give those to you: Tom Kite, David Duval, Retief Goosen, and DiMarco.
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