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Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus? Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo? Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic? And you must throw Rafa Nadal in there too, right?

As sports fans, we are programmed to make everything a debate.

It’s a fascinating insight into the human psyche that, for whatever reason, we’ve collectively decided as golf fans that it’s not OK to say that Nicklaus won more majors and was a more consistent performer, while Woods was more clinical, and changed the game, and did more for bringing it up to speed in the modern world like no one ever could.

No, you’ve got to be Tiger or Jack.

Shall we enjoy the fact that we’ve lived through either the Jack era or the Tiger era? Or, if you’re old – and lucky – enough, both? Or an age that has brought us the two best footballers of all time at the same time? Or the three best tennis players?

Of course we can’t. Because in this increasingly divided world in which we find ourselves, people will always lean one way or the other.

And once you’re there, you’re there for good. There’s no swaying you, which itself largely renders each discussion utterly pointless.

We now find ourselves in a strange situation. Messi and Ronaldo are semi-retired in the US and Saudi Arabia respectively, while our star tennis trio are either out or on their way out. In golf, we’ve been desperately searching for the “next Tiger Woods” since the man himself was still in his pomp. Rory McIlroy had a go. Jordan Spieth had a go. I’m sure others had a go.

Now, Scottie Scheffler is having a go.

We spoke about it on last week’s episode of The bunkered Podcast, but Scheffler is doing other-worldly things, and yet it doesn’t create the same excitement that it did when Tiger was doing it all those years ago.

Is it the lack of mystique? Is it the fact Scheffler is a normal, down-to-earth bloke as happy chilling with his wife, Meredith, binge-watching The Office and gorging on pizza as he is lifting PGA Tour titles? Is it a lack of aura? Or star quality? Do we really need that in our best players?

The Next Tiger Woods
Scottie Scheffler is good – but he’s not Tiger Woods good. Yet. (Credit: Getty Images)

It certainly helps, as Woods has proved over the years.

The problem is, he had it all. And he backed it up on the golf course. He holds records that will never, ever be broken.

Scheffler’s latest stint as world No.1 began in the middle of last year – and he’s doing ludicrous things on that front. But to beat Tiger’s record, he’ll need to stay there until 2035.

Scheffler hasn’t missed a cut since the FedEx St Jude Championship in August 2022. He’s played 40 events since then without failing to make the weekend. To break Woods’ record, he needs to go for another 102.

You see where I’m going with this. If you think Scheffler is going to replace the Woods-shaped void in your life, it’s important to manage those expectations now.

Scheffler is a world class player, for sure. As is McIlroy, as is Xander Schauffele. Collin Morikawa. Viktor Hovland. Jon Rahm. Bryson DeChambeau. Ludvig Aberg.

But for the first time since the mid-90s, golf doesn’t have a genuine superstar. Should we be concerned about that? If we hadn’t seen such riches we could live with being poor, and all that.

Of course, we could just be happy that the aforementioned names – and you can throw a handful more in, too – have enough combined star quality to pique the interest of even the most casual of fans.

There’s no turning away from the fact that the swing towards player power and – by extension – greed has tainted how we view the biggest names in the game.

Every sportsman in the opening paragraph of this ramble has earned more money than they could ever spend from their chosen pursuits. But do you think any of them would trade their success for more money? Not a chance. Tiger Woods has spent his entire career caring about one thing, and one thing only.


Now we live in an age where players with zero legacy in the game can sell out for a Saudi-backed payday and then have the audacity to moan that they’re being treated differently. (Who are you thinking of, out of interest? It’s Talor Gooch, isn’t it?)

Is this shift in the dynamic – and it’s not just happening in our sport – why it feels like there are fewer casual fans than there have ever been? Or is it because we don’t have a Tiger figure leading the way?

Maybe, then, we should all take a moment to appreciate what we had. If you saw Woods in his prime, lucky you. I hope those memories last a lifetime. If you didn’t, YouTube will help you through this difficult time. We all long for what we had. It’s human nature.

As Andy Bernard from the Schefflers’ favourite show said: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”

A new dawn

The R&A has named its new chief executive.

Mark Darbon has left his role as CEO of Premiership rugby team Northampton Saints and will work alongside the outgoing Martin Slumbers before taking over towards the end of the year.

Time will, of course, tell, but my instinct is telling me this is a shrewd appointment. Darbon is highly respected in the rugby world and my industry colleagues who work in the sport say as much.

I have to admit, I was slightly taken aback when I opened the story to see such a young face staring back at me. What a breath of fresh air that is.

Maybe those who decide the American presidency candidates could take a leaf out the R&A’s book…

Let it go

Yes, I know it’s engagement farming and I’m part of the problem by putting it here, but I low-key obsess over stuff like this…

Of course it’s not a bloody hole-in-one. It was his third shot, for starters.

Still, cracking par.

Last laugh

Remember when Brooks Koepka roasted ice hockey star Aaron Ekblad, calling him a traffic cone?

I guess you had to be there.

Anyway, Ekblad’s Florida Panthers just won the NHL’s top prize – the Stanley Cup – and he had a message for the five-time major champion…

And finally…

I finish, as always, with sharing some bits and bobs my talented colleagues have written in the last few days.

There’s been a right ol’ brou-ha-ha about the upcoming Olympics since the qualification process ended and Ben Parsons has been all over it. The Netherlands’ Darius van Driel is one of the players at the centre of the storm, and Ben spoke to him about his feelings on the matter – and now it turns out it may happen to even more players. You have to wonder why some of these countries are even entering the qualification process if they’re then going to just pull the plug. The mind boggles.

Closer to home, there’s an election coming, don’t you know? And Michael McEwan isn’t interested in what the Conservatives, or Labour, or even Reform have to say. Because he’s all about what the NAG Party bring to the table. The NAG party? You’ll have to have a read to find out.

And finally – Tuesday is one of the best days of the year on the sporting calendar. No, not day two of Wimbledon – Final Qualifying for The Open! If you’re anywhere near one of the four host courses, get yourself down for what is always a drama-filled day with some big-name players. Oh, and it’s completely free.


Come on England!

author headshot

Alex Perry is the Associate Editor of bunkered. A journalist for more than 20 years, he has been a golf industry stalwart for the majority of his career and, in a five-year spell at ESPN, covered every sporting event you can think of. He completed his own Grand Slam at the 2023 Masters, having fallen in love with the sport at his hometown club of Okehampton and on the links of nearby Bude & North Cornwall.

Associate Editor

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