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Woods Poised to Raise the Bar Yet Again

Sent on Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Next stop in the record books for Tiger Woods could well be Sam Snead and a mark no one has ever seriously discussed as being vulnerable since Snead won his eighth Greater Greensboro in 1965. That was Slammin’ Sammy’s 82nd career PGA Tour victory.

No one else had more than 70 until Jack Nicklaus won his 17th major title at the 1980 PGA Championship. Then along came Woods, who tied the Golden Bear with 73 PGA Tour wins in the 2009 Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance and has been approaching Snead’s mark rather quickly since.

Woods has argued that he already passed Snead; his 79 titles, including five in the Memorial Tournament, are one more than Snead, whose 82 includes five events in which he had a partner. (Ah, the quaint old days of the tour.) But the official mark still stands, at least for now.

Interestingly, if form and past results play out in a similar fashion, Woods should at least tie Snead this year. And that historical event could occur at the 39th edition of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance.

Woods will open his PGA Tour season in traditional fashion, competing in this week’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course, where he has won seven previous titles. He also won the 2008 U.S. Open at the South Course at Torrey Pines. From there, if he follows his usual schedule pattern, he’ll next compete in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, the Honda Classic, the WGC-Cadillac Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational before the year’s first major at the Masters Tournament.

Wins 81 and 82 could come at the Arnold Palmer and Masters. The former he has won eight times; the latter four, although his last Masters title was in 2005.

It seems a foregone conclusion that he’ll pass Snead sometime this year. He needs four wins. He’s won four or more times in a season 12 times.

Having just turned 38, Woods could crush the record if he’s even marginally as successful as Snead was later in his career. Snead won 27 times after his 38th birthday and another 10 times when he was 37.

Born in 1912, the same year as Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan, Sam Snead not only has more wins than Woods (for now), but he has a couple of records that Woods would be pressed to pass, including a career-low 60 in the 1957 Dallas Open. Woods’s career low score is 61. Though Tiger won the 2000 U.S. Open by 15 shots, Snead posted a 16-stroke victory in the 1936 West Virginia Pro Tournament.

Tiger’s last eight victories have come at venues where he has previously triumphed, including the 2012 Memorial, so it seems logical that the “Snead Watch” will be intense as he plays mostly the same tournament slate in 2014. Six of Snead’s last eight were similarly achieved on places he knew.

Number 82 for Woods – or perhaps 83 or higher – could be won in June at Muirfield Village Golf Club. And no one would be surprised.

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