Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus career comparisons

Best ever.

It’s a title that’s become so common in sports conversations that it’s thrown around too casually in some ways. In golf, two of him are used, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

Both are legends in the game, but who deserves the title of best? The merits of both are often discussed in 19.th Younger players usually side with Tiger and vice versa with Jack. It’s difficult to compare players over time, but looking at the numbers, we can argue for each.

So which career would you prefer, Woods or Nicklaus?

player PGA Tour Winner European tour winner major wins Main runner-up player wins US Amateur Champion
Jack Nicklaus 73 9 18 19 3 2
tiger woods 82 41 15 7 2 3

Nicklaus’ argument is very simple. He has won the most majors and even more runners-up in the biggest events. While five players have won his Players twice (including Woods), Nicklaus is the only player to have won the tour’s flagship event his three times, and his first of the event. We have achieved it in 5 years.

Woods may fall short in the majors a few times, but he still has time to catch Nicklaus (the odds of that have decreased significantly since the 2021 car crash). Fans would argue that Woods faced better competitors. That’s an edge, seeing that he’s also won nine of his PGA Tour and his 32 European Tour events. To be fair, playing in Europe wasn’t all that common in Nicklaus’ time, but the numbers are impressive nonetheless.

National team appearances are a difficult comparison as the partner you play with is a tricky variable. Nicklaus has played in his six games and has a record of 17–8–3. Nicklaus leads the Americans with a 2-1 record as captain of the Ryders in his Cup, where he is 1-1 and Presidents in his Cup. Woods made his debut as captain of the United States in his 2019 Presidents Cup, playing there as well where he recorded a 3-0-0 record.

And then there’s the money element. Woods was able to monetize his talent more in his time, and he topped his PGA Tour’s all-time earning list with $120,895,206. Nicklaus finished in 338th place, earning just $5,734,031. Woods has done more on tour in one year than Nicklaus has done in his entire career: 1999 ($6,616,585),year 2000($9,188,321), 2002 ($6,912,625), 2003 ($6,673,413), 2005 ($10,628,024), 2006 ($9,941,563), 2007 ($10,867,052), 2008 ($5,775,000), 2009 ($10,508,163), 2012 ($6,133,158), 2013 ($8,553,439).

Off-course earnings don’t even compare. Forbes estimates that Woods’ net worth is at least $1 billion, making him the only billionaire athlete in the world alongside NBA stars LeBron James and Michael Jordan.

Both are Hall of Famers and have been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor. Nicklaus has a slight advantage on the course, but Woods has the upper hand (scandal and injury aside).

Which career would you prefer?

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