The end of an era in a major way

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Roger Federer, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have been among the most dominant athletes we’ve ever seen.

federer trophyFrom 2004-2008, Roger Federer was the best tennis player in the world.  He held his sport’s number one ranking for a record 237 weeks.  During that stretch, nobody threatened to knock him off that perch.  He owns 17 grand slam titles, more than anyone else to ever play the game.  Over that four year span, Federer won 11 of those 17 majors.  In a word, he was dominant.

Tiger Woods’ dominance was equally as impressive.  The man once unanimously considered the world’s greatest golfer took the PGA Tour by storm in 1997.  Years before hitting the front pages for reasons he shouldn’t have, Tiger Woods owned golf.  Tiger was so dominant that he currently sucks and is still the talk of golf.  He’s has 14 major titles which include four straight when he corralled the Tiger Slam in 2000-1.

Were it not for Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson might have owned the golfing landscape.  Mickelson’s five major championships may pale in comparison to his rival but that still puts him in rather elite company.  Only twelve other men in the history of the game have won more.

That being said these three guys are getting a little long in the tooth in sports that don’t allow their athletes to age gracefully.

Federer is about to turn 33.  That’s ancient for a tennis player, particularly when you have competitors named Rafael Nadal (28 and unbeatable on clay) and Novak Djokovic (27 and unbeatable on every other surface) staring across the net from you.  Federer’s last major victory came in early 2012.  He did reach the Wimbledon finals this year taking Djokovic to five sets but alas, the Djoker was the last man laughing.  We all watched and wondered if that was Federer’s last hoorah.

Tiger hurtsTiger’s troubles have been duly noted.  Between his personal and health problems, Tiger is a far cry from the golfer we once knew.  This year, he’ll turn 39.  My, how time flies.  It seems like only yesterday he was setting records at Augusta.  Now he’s barely making cuts.  Tiger hasn’t won a major since 2008, the longest drought of his career.  Watching Tiger play the game these days is painful for anyone how remembers who truly dominant he was.

Phil is the oldest of the three.  He just turned 44.  Although Mickelson did just win his first British Open in 2013, he hasn’t won a single tournament since.  He’s currently ranked 13th in the world.

Like Federer with his current nemeses, both Phil and Tiger confront a number of younger golfers who have seized golf’s reigns and are not willing to give them back.  Rory McIlroy just won his third major at the age of 25.  His win at Bridgestone once again made him the number one golfer in the world.  At 35, Bubba Watson is no youngster but he won Augusta in 2012 and 2014 and is playing better golf than both Tiger and Phil.  Adam Scott is the number two player in the world and playing far more consistent golf than the two modern legends.  The major-less Sergio Garcia probably doesn’t belong in the same paragraph as the rest of these guys but he is playing the best golf of his career.  And there are a slew of others that make winning majors a lot more difficult.

mickelson strugglesHere’s a statistic for you.  Neither Phil nor Tiger are in the top 35 in scoring average this year.  Nor are they in the top 90 of money earned on the tour.  That would have been unheard of only years ago.  Federer is still one of the top tennis players in the world but cracking the top two may never happen again.

And so we watch wondering how much more these legends have left in the tank.  We’ll tune in and root for them to win just one more major so we can see it happen but realistically it’s something we might never see again.  Just don’t tell them that.

I’m not suggesting these three can’t do it.  Far be it from me to doubt them.  What I am suggesting is that it might be about time we stop expecting them to.

29 thoughts on “The end of an era in a major way

  1. I may yet be proven wrong on my Tiger Woods prophecy but it hasn’t happened yet and, as the song says, the years dwindle down to a precious few… Too bad…
    Years back I really enjoyed watching men’s tennis when we had the bad boys (Connors and McEnroe) but it’s lost it’s appeal to me lately when no Americans, good or bad, are on the scene… Too bad…

    Let’s talk football!

  2. Federer is the greatest male player in the game of tennis , but his record of Grand Slam wins is likely to be surpassed by Rafael Nadal within the next three years . Djokovic for the present , remains top of the heap .

    Lefty and Woods, it would appear are no longer interested in winning on the PGA Tour , not when they are making in excess > of $30 million apiece , annually , from endorsements .

  3. IMO, Tiger’s demise came from ‘juicing’ and eating the forbidden fruit……no jokes please. He was the absolute best when on his game. What I really liked about the Tiger era was the unmasking of Fat Boy Zeller.

  4. Lefty is a riverboat gambler. It became apparent when he comes to town(LV). He’s mastered not only golf game but the people game. He’s advanced from a stiff to a “George”. Your type of guy, huh Chris? I guess he realized his net worth. Tiger? that’s another story. He graduated from the Michael Jordan School of Frugality.

  5. I agree with Dwin’s comment on men’s tennis. Connors, Mac…the US Open on hot summer nights. In its day I watched every day. The last decade or so men’s tennis has not captured my attention at all, probably due to our Americans being irrelevant. I also agree with your comment we shouldn’t expect any of these guys to pull off another major. I am going to suggest Phil has the best chance of the three because he’s crafty and golf can be a fickle ride. I truly think Tiger has totally and completely broken down and I’d be so happy to be totally and completely wrong about him. From his first major, I have watched golf any weekend he’s been in the hunt. But..if Tiger ain’t in contention I offer golf no attention. Federer may have the best chance to get a major because he still can get deep into the brackets but probably would only win because his opponent(s) blew it rather than him commanding it. All greats, all winding down…

  6. well written Pep..as usual and some interesting points. I think the last one is probably the most entertaining and relevant. Perhaps we should simply not expect as much. Jack one his last major in his 40′s, but no one expected him to do it, unti lthe final round when it appeared he might. There would be no conversations about Rory, Bubba, Sergio, Rickie, or any other youngster, (i’m old enough to call them that), if it wasn’t for Tiger and Phil. I would dare any of us who have played sports to say we are the same as we were 10 years ago. The probability of wining may have become more challenging as the game has gotten harder. (remember some places “Tiger proofing” courses intentionally to make it harder for him…not the rest of golf…but him). (Almost feels like Barack attack). My bad, I digressed.
    Roger is still a phenomonal player as evidenced by his strong finish at Wimbleton. I don’t see any up and coming tennis players makingit tothe finals…but being beaten by the veteran who just happens to own more majors than anyone else. Now I’m all for Nadal in a manner of speaking, but don’t thnk he’ll stay healty enough over the next three years to break Rogers record.
    Keep hope alive !

  7. Getting old sucks. At least these geezers have stacks of cash and the fame factor to fall back on. The rest of us nobodies sit back and judge while they order $500 meals. While I feel for them on a sports level as I’m still squeezing every last drop of youth from my body twice a week, I can’t bring myself to feel too sorry for them. They all had great runs.

    Its yet another reminder that we witness history every day, enjoy it.

    …Lord knows Tiger did.

  8. Time waits for no one…

    Roger still has the best odds of those three. I was somewhat surprised to learn the Tiger and Phil are both outside of the Top 90 in coin this year but I was MORE surprised to learn that Tiger will be 39.

    Time ain’t waiting for me either it seems…

    Se la guerre

  9. Chris

    Dustin Johnson’s banishment from the PGA Tour might well have been a good thing , because beyond the allegations of cocaine use , there are also rumors , M he bedded the wives of several players on the Tour . Is there a chance he had multiple holes in one ,. while carrying out some of those sex escapades ?

    Derrick Brooks in the Hall of Fame is a good thing for the Buccaneers and their fans . Well deserved !

    tophatal ……………….

  10. Chris

    The one story that baseball can do without rears its ugly head and will likely implicate not just Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun of of a possible felony but might also touch upon what Bud Selig and the league hierarchy may well have known concerning Anthony ” Tony ” Bosch of Biogenesis and Rodriguez’s cousin Yuri Sucart . Sucart was apparently selling steroids to high school kids not just within the state of Florida , but also he and Bosch had a flourishing mail order business for steroids which stretched up and down the Eastern seaboard as well across certain parts of the country .

    tophatal …..

  11. Dwin…

    You’re right about tennis. While it is still pretty fun watching the current top three plus Murray duke it out, there was nothing quite like watching McEnroe in his prime.

    As we all still wait for the next great men’s tennis player to emerge.

  12. Bets…

    Think these guys have lost their desire? Has Phil found a new way to quench his competitive thirst? On the market?

    And yeah, if I waited on Tiger, I’d probably have to pad his tab to make the most possible out of the 12% he was gonna leave me.

  13. Burnsy…

    Interesting that you give Phil the best shot to win another considering he’s the oldest of the three.

    That being said, I probably agree with you. Tiger’s nowhere to be found these days and while Federer gets deep into most tournaments, he runs into a buzzsaw when facing either Nadal or Djovokic.

  14. Tree…

    I think Bets brings up an interesting point.

    If these guys are making a mil here and a mil there on random financial deals, where’s the incentive to win a golf tourney that only pays a quarter of that?

  15. Al…

    So what’s the final verdict on Dustin Johnson? Did the tour suspend him or was it a voluntary leave of absence.

    And how much time, if any, do you think Bosch spends behind bars? I bet he sings like a canary to avoid doing any hard time at all.

  16. If Nadal passes Federer’s tally of Grand Slam wins , (seventeen) leads all active and retired players . Where do you think it should place him ? The Spaniard already has a career Grand Slam and only Rod Laver has achieved the feat , twice , during his career in the true sense of the word , winning all four majors in a calendar year , once as an amateur and then as a professional in the Open era . Something that neither Borg , Federer , Agassi or Sampras were ever able to achieve .

    There is no truth to the rumor the CDC will be called in to to test the wives of PGA Tour players for the Ebola virus or an STD (sexually transmitted disease) after the allegations concerning Dustin Johnson . Not only was Johnson hacking away in the bushes , he may well have been eating some as well .

  17. Chris

    Your thoughts on the arrest of Tony Bosch and his Yuri Sucart , cousin of Alex Rodriguez ? Bear in mind these latest allegations if proven to be true could send both away for a considerably long period of time . Sucart is said to have been in business with Bosch and their having an online sales’ business, selling steroids to professional as well as high school athletes nationwide . I wonder what the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) might have to say about it all , as well as that dumb bi%h of a State Attorney General Pam Bondi ? Rumors of this have been going on for the past eighteen months and longer , but the FDLE and Bondi’s office have not done a ## ##ing thing over that time or prior to the DEA or Justice Department’s actions.

  18. Bosch has sung already and what did MLB actually do concerning A-Rod and Ryan Braun ? What ought to be done , is for the Feds to come down harsh on Tony Bosch and Yuri Sucart really hard instead, of them being slapped on the wrist and being told ” don’t let us catch you doing this again ” . This country has become soft on crime and punishment , where the victims have less rights than the defendants themselves .

    So the NFL preseason gets underway over the next several days . Any thoughts on it all and what you would like to see from the Buccaneers during their preseason schedule ?

    Check out the following and let me know what you think ? It touches on College Football as well as the NFL .

    For your consideration

  19. Al…

    If Nadal surpasses Federer, I suppose an argument can be made but most of his wins came on clay. Yes, he’s got all four slams but nine of ‘em came at the French. This should be an interesting US Open.

    If the government forces Bosch to open all his records, or he makes a plea agreement to do so, we may get to the bottom of all this mess once and for all. Not that we didn’t already know.

  20. Chris,
    You also heard he was done and would not be atthe top again, but low and behold, he did come back and regain, (albeit fro a shrot time), the number one spot in the world. I can attest to the trials and challenges he might face ater having back surgery, (as I’ve had the same surgery), but is saying so, also cat attest that I’ve played some of my best golf since then. It did take a while, and I don’t hit quite as far as I did, (or dreamt of), but my scores are good enuf to keep my index at a 7. So… as I keep playing for teh love of the game and as I get smarter about how to play within myself, it really does become easier. Maybe Tiger can figure that out befoer it really is too late.

  21. Is there actually a bottom to this mess concerning Tony Bosch ? I mean everyone thought it was all over . Now we find out he (Bosch) and Yuri Sucart (A Rod’s cousin) had a very successful online business selling ‘roids nation and statewide to professional athletes , high school athletes and their coaches . So Alex Rodriguez , claiming his purchases were made in the DR (Dominican Republic) was simply a crock of $hit .

    Seven of Sampras’ slams came on grass (Wimbledon) and he never won the French Open . Yet he is considered to be best American male player ever .

    Another plea agreement won’t be forthcoming this time around . Tony Bosch was given one to divulge the info that played a part in nailing both Ryan Braun , Alex Rodriguez and several other Major League players . Separate charges this time around and I believe them to be far more serious than the previous charges leveled against him . Let me ask you this , in light of this latest mess why hasn’t the FDLE , FHSAA (Florida High School Athletic Association) and the State Attorney General’s Office in Florida started their own investigations concerning those within the state m likely to be embroiled in this fiasco ? The state of Florida is being ran by a bunch of frigging ##sholes of which Rick Scott and Pam Bondi are two of the biggest of the whole bunch .

  22. Fair response to the Nadal-Federer argument, Al.

    And you’re right. The details of the Bosch steroids scandal will likely never go away. I’m reading a great book on the story now so stay tuned for a review.

  23. War & Peace or Homer’s the Iliad might prove to be more interesting than reading about Tony Bosh and Yuri Sucart , much less the whole era of steroids in the game .

    Crazy story concerning NASCAR driver Tony Stewart . One minute he’s in a crash with a fellow competitor in a non NASCAR event and the next the very same competitor dies having been hit by Stewart’s car on a race track .

  24. Fantastic finish today at the PGA, Al.

    Four majors for Rory already and he’s only 25. I’d say that’s a solid start to a career.

    And yea, bizarre story about Tony Stewart. I wonder how this whole thing will turn out. I’m gonna leave that up to my NASCAR buddies to discuss.

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