Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Woods dominates entire sports column

Every generation has its dominant athletes.

In the 1920s and 1930s, it was Babe Ruth. Muhammad Ali was the man in the '60s and '70s. Michael Jordan ruled the sports world in the '80s and '90s.

This generation, however, is lucky enough to have two phenomenal athletes dominating their respective sports — Tiger Woods and Roger Federer.


With Tiger Woods' come-from-behind win at the Buick Invitational and Roger Federer winning the Australian Open last weekend, the debate over which one is the more dominant athlete came to the forefront once again this week.

Both are unquestionably the best individuals in their own sport, with no one really in arm's reach of taking over the No. 1 spot anytime soon.

Woods set the record for consecutive weeks at the top spot with 264 before Vijah Sing caught him briefly in 2004. In the last week of February, Federer will have held on to the top spot for 161 consecutive weeks, breaking Jimmy Connors' old record.

Also, both Woods and Federer are in the middle of impressive streaks.

Woods' win at the Buick was his seventh consecutive PGA Tour win (yes, he finished second in a couple of off-season tournaments, but the PGA recognizes the streak, even though he does not). Federer's win in the finals of the Aussie Open was his 36th consecutive match won. Federer also did not drop a set on his way to his third Australian Open crown — the first time that has happened in a major since 1980 when Björn Borg did so at the French Open.

However, if you were to break down all the stages of both careers, you would see how Tiger Woods is the most dominant athlete in the sports world right now.

Amateur Careers

Federer was no slouch during his amateur career, as he became Switzerland's national champion at age 14 and won the junior Wimbledon title the year before turning pro, but Tiger's amateur career was just a tad bit better.

Tiger has been a national phenom since the age of two when he appeared on "The Mike Douglas Show" putting with Bob Hope, and ever since then he has been dominating the sport and its headlines.

Woods won his first of six Junior World Championships at eight years old and then went on to win three consecutive U.S. Junior Amateur and three consecutive U.S. Amateur Championships, becoming the youngest to win each event.

In his final year as an amateur — besides winning the U.S. Amateur title for the third time — Woods won the individual NCAA championship. He was also the low amateur at two majors during this stretch.

Even though Federer had a good amateur career, Woods' amateur career blows his out of the water.

Professional Career

Both Tiger's and Roger's professional careers have been pretty impressive — that is why this debate exists. Still, if you look at the entire length of both professional careers, Tiger again has been superior.

Federer turned pro in 1999. However, he did not come storming out of the gates, as it took him two years to win his first title. In comparison, Woods turned pro in August 1996 and proceeded to win six events in a one-year span. He also became the world's No. 1 player after only 47 weeks as a pro — the fastest anyone has ever reached the top spot.

It was not until 2003 that Federer's career took off, as he won 42 of his 46 career titles. Woods, on the other hand, has only gone one year in his professional career without wining at least one title (1998).

Woods has been more consistent during the course of his career, and even when he went through his two swing changes, he was still able to win titles.


Most players are defined in tennis and golf by how they play in the four major championships.

Tiger burst onto the major scene by winning the Masters — his first major as a pro — by a record 12 strokes. In 40 majors as a pro, Woods has won 12, completing the career Grand Slam twice (he was the youngest to do it in golf history the first time around) and has at least tied the scoring record in relation to par in all four majors.

Woods also holds the record for the largest margin of victory in any major when he won the 2000 U.S. Open by an astounding 15 strokes. But possibly the most impressive thing about Tiger's play in the majors is he has only missed one cut in 40 events and that one cut came last year after he did not play for over two months because of the death of his father. It doesn't matter who you are — if you take two months off from anything, you are not going to be at the top of your game.

While Federer is on pace to break, if not shatter, Pete Sampras' record of 14 Grand Slam titles and seven Wimbledon titles, he was not always so dominant in the Grand Slams. It took Federer 16 Grand Slam events before he even made a final when he won his first Wimbledon.

Also, if you were to call making it to the fourth round in a Grand Slam as being equivalent to making the cut, then Federer would have "missed the cut" 10 times in his career in only 31 tournaments.

But perhaps the biggest knock on Federer so far is his inability to win the French Open and until last year he really has not come close to winning it — only making one final.


Tiger's competition is another thing that sets him apart from Federer. In just about every tournament, Woods is competing with over 150 other golfers to come out on top.

While he unquestionably has the most talent on the course any time he walks up to the tee, Tiger has no control whatsoever how anyone else on the course plays.

Federer only has to face seven opponents on his way to a Grand Slam title, and since it is a one-on-one match, he has some control over how his opponent plays. Plus, some early round upsets could pave an easier path to a title.

Tiger has batted away any challenger who has come his way. Sure Lefty, Ernie, Vijay and Goosen have all won majors since Tiger turned pro, but Tiger has won almost every head-to-head battle he has had with them.

Federer can say the same thing for most of his challengers. He disposes of Andy Roddick every time while hardly working up a sweat. However, there is one challenger who has gotten the best of Federer — Rafael Nadal — who is 3-6 against him including losing to him in the French semis and finals the last two years.

Field of Play

Field of Play is probably the thing that separates these two superior talented athletes the most. Federer only plays on four different surfaces — hard, carpet, grass and clay — and the court is the same size everywhere he goes. He has also not been able to win the big one on clay.

In the game of golf, no two courses are the same, and Tiger has been able to win on all types of courses with all different types of game. He is able to bomb it off the tee if need be or, like last year's British Open, he can keep the driver in the bag and still win. Plus, with every new course, he has to get used to the contours like the slope of the green and hazards. Federer does not have to do any of this.

Any way you look at it, Tiger is the more dominant athlete of the two, and as long as both continue to play at the incredibly high level they are playing right now, it will remain that way.

Greg is a junior majoring in communication arts and is The Badger Herald's Design Director. If you would like to debate who is the more dominant athlete, you can reach him at [email protected].

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