You may not realize this, but the two greatest major champions in golf history -- Jack Nicklaus with 18 and Tiger Woods with 14 -- actually crossed paths in the majors on 22 occasions.
August 20, 2000. That was the last PGA Championship that Tiger and Nicklaus appeared in together. The two were paired with Vijay Singh for a group that now have a combined 11 Wanamaker trophies to their names. Woods went on to win his second straight PGA Championship at Valhalla that year while the Golden Bear missed the cut.
Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player in history, finds himself the subject of a great debate these days. People often compare the great LeBron James to Jordan, pondering who the greatest NBA player of all time truly is. Several years ago, Jordan was asked who he believed to be the best golfer of all time in a Cigar Aficionado interview you can watch here.
It was no surprise that His Airness, who also happens to be a golf aficionado, wasn't falling into that trap.
ALTERNATIVE HISTORY: A look at Tiger's 80 Tour victories... without Tiger
"They're both great and I would never say one is greater than the other," Jordan said.
Jordan also said, "Jack and Tiger never played against each other. They never played in the same tournament. They never played with the same equipment. They never played with the same length of golf course. I never played against Wilt Chamberlain. I never played against Jerry West. To now say that one is greater than the other is being a little bit unfair."
Not all of that is entirely true, though we do understand Jordan's point. Woods and Nicklaus actually played in many of the same events early in Tiger's career, but at that point, the Golden Bear was well past his prime while Tiger was coming into his own.
Since the talk is always about majors when it comes to Nicklaus and Woods, we decided to breakdown the 22 occasions in which the two played in the same major.
A couple of fun stats that came out of this:
- Nicklaus got the better of Woods on five of the 22 occasions, most notably his T6 to Tiger's T8 in the 1998 Masters when Nicklaus was 58 years old.
- In four of the five majors where Nicklaus bettered Woods, Woods was still an amateur.
- Perhaps most remarkably of all, in the 22 majors where Woods and Nicklaus were both in the field, Woods collected seven of his 14 majors and finished in the top 10 nine times.
Here's the year-by-year, tournament-by-tournament of the 22 majors that had Woods and Nicklaus in the field: