Monday, June 16, 2008.
An incapacitated Tiger Woods won the US Open at Torrey Pines to win his 14th major championship. It took him an extra 18 holes – plus another one for good measure – to see off Rocco Mediate and continue his seemingly inexorable march towards a record haul of at least 19 majors.
Hands up everybody who watched that and thought ten years would go by without Woods winning another of golf’s big four?
A succession of injuries – both physical and reputational – have combined to roadblock the now 42-year-old’s dominance of the game.
Since that most recent win, Woods has posted just nine top tens in the majors (the most recent of those coming at the 2013 Open), sat out 14, and missed the cut in them six times. In the 43 majors he played up to the 2008 US Open, he missed just two cuts.
What all this has done, of course, is open the door for other players to capitalise on Woods’ troubles.
As his winless drought in the events that have defined him threatens to extend into a second decade, we’ve crunched the numbers and analysed how the men’s major landscape looks ‘post Tiger’.
Geographical split of winners
The geo-diversity of major winners since the 2008 US Open reinforces claims that golf is now a truly global game
Players representing all six major continents (we’re discounting Antarctica for fairly obvious reasons) have won at least once on golf’s grandest stages.
The vast majority of those wins have come from golfers from either North America or Europe. They account for 82.1% of major wins (32/39) in this span, with North America (18) narrowly ahead of Europe (14). Africa has three winners, Australasia has two and Asia and South America have one each.
Drilling down further, American dominance of the events comes increasingly into focus.
Golfers from the USA account for 46.1% of wins (18/39). Northern Ireland is the second-most prolific with three players sharing six titles. South African golfers make up all three of Africa’s winners. Four countries (Australia, England, the Republic of Ireland and Germany) have two wins each, whilst another four (Argentina, South Korea, Spain and Sweden) all have one apiece.
Which players have profited most?
A total of 30 different players have shared the 39 major championships played since Tiger Woods won the US Open in 2008.
Of those, only six have won multiple majors. That pack is led by Rory McIlroy, who has four victories to his name (2011 US Open, 2012 USPGA, 2014 Open, 2014 USPGA). Jordan Spieth has the next biggest haul, with three wins (2015 Masters, 2015 US Open, 2017 Open), whilst Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer Padraig Harrington and Phil Mickelson each have two wins in that span.
The vast majority (64%) have been first-time major champions and have been making, on average, their 28th major start. Special mentions for Sergio Garcia and Keegan Bradley. Sergio won his first major at the 74th time of asking – a record in this post Tiger era – whilst Bradley won the USPGA in 2011 on his major championship debut.
Age split of winners
Tiger Woods was 32 when he won the 2008 US Open. The average age of major winners since then is 31.1.
Jordan Spieth, who was 21 when he won the 2015 Masters, is the youngest winner. Nineteen of the 39 major wins in this period have been won by golfers in their 20s.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Phil Mickelson is the oldest winner in this period. He was 43 when he won the 2013 Open. Only three of the winners in the last decade have been older than Woods will be by the time the US Open comes around: Mickelson, Darren Clarke (2011 Open) and Ernie Els (2012 Open).
Winners by world ranking
One of the most interesting statistics to emerge since Tiger Woods’ last major victory is the lack of major wins by the incumbent world No.1.
Rory McIlroy (2014 USPGA) is the only golfer in that time to have won a major whilst sitting on top of the Official World Golf Ranking. That’s despite eight different players (nine if you include Woods) sitting on top of the rankings in that period.
The average world ranking of the major winners since the 2008 US Open is 26.
There have been only ten wins by players inside the top five, whilst three wins have come from players ranked outside the top 100 at the time of their victories: Keegan Bradley (108th, 2011 USPGA); Y.E. Yang (110th, 2009 USPGA); and Darren Clarke (111th, 2011 Open).
Average winner by major
Weight 13st 3oz
World Ranking 19
Major Start 33
Weight 12st 7oz
World Ranking 21
Major Start 18
Weight 13st 2oz
World Ranking 30
Major Start 44
Weight 12st 6oz
World Ranking 33
Major Start 17
Any other business?
• Perhaps unsurprisingly, the vast majority of major winners since the 2008 US Open, have been right-handed (89.7%).
• Only two players (Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy) have won back-to-back majors in this period).
• The average height of the winners has been 6ft on the button, with an average weight of 12st 13lbs.
• The winners profiled have been claiming, on average, their tenth career victory on the PGA and European Tours.