Surreal number: Woods' win shines light on Snead's 82Tiger Woods called Sam Snead's PGA TOUR record of 82 victories "just absolutely phenomenal."July 04, 2012
Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Tiger Woods' pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championship traces back to the days of Woods' childhood when he had a poster of the Golden Bear on his bedroom wall.
There's another mark Woods is closing in on, however.
With his victory at last week's AT&T National, he moved to second all time in career wins on the PGA TOUR with 74. Only the late Sam Snead with 82 victories stands in Woods' way.
This week, Woods will try to move a step closer to that record at a place familiar to Slammin' Sammy. Snead was the pro emeritus at The Greenbrier until he passed away in 2002, four days shy of his 90th birthday.
"Sam's record is just absolutely phenomenal," said Woods, who first met Snead in California when he was 5 years old. "He didn't exactly have easy guys to play against, Hogan and Nelson. Those guys aren't chops."
But when it comes to Snead's record, it doesn't seem to receive the same amount of attention as the other record Woods is pursuing.
No one's quite sure why, either.
"Why was Pete Sampras' record so much greater than what Jimmy Connors has done?" said Woods, referencing the 14 major titles Sampras accumulated. "No one really knows how many wins he's had."
Connors won more than 100 titles in his career, though some of those were unofficial victories. Similarly, it's believed Snead won more than 150 times in his career, many of which were also unofficial.
"I'm not as knowledgeable about Sam's career and I don't know exactly how many wins he actually has," admitted Phil Mickelson. "I know what the TOUR gives him credit for, but he's had numerous wins that have and have not counted."
Therein perhaps is the problem when it comes to assessing which record stands out more, and opinions vary depending on who you ask.
"The majors certainly have more importance, and we put so much more on it, especially now," Woods said. "With the media and the way it's been, I think that there's so much more media coverage and more attention on major championships. That's something that wasn't exactly in Jack's day and obviously prior to him."
Tom Watson, who took over for Snead as the pro emeritus here, is one of the few players to have played against Woods and watched Snead play when he was growing up. He has his own view.
"They're two separate animals," Watson said. "When I look back at somebody's record, I'll say, first of all, how many tournaments did they win? That's number one. Then I'll say how many majors did they win; did they win more than three or four majors? That puts them up in the great category."
No one can argue the greatness of Snead, however.
Snead's first victory came in 1937. He won five times that season. Three decades later he got his 82nd and final official victory at the age of 52.
Top 10: Sam Snead
Sam Snead was known for a lot more than just his PGA TOUR-record 82 victories.
During that span, he won seven major championships not to mention those countless other unofficial tournaments. He even became the only man to win an LPGA event, capturing the 1962 Royal Poinciana Plaza Invitational.
"His swing is one of the classic swings that we all try and replicate," Woods said. "We all looked at it, we all analyzed it and we all tried to do it. He was blessed just like Hogan with just amazing flexibility that a lot of guys just can't do. He was kicking door archways in his 50s and 60s, just phenomenal."
Woods hasn't been so bad himself.
He won twice in his rookie year and the following season captured the Masters in record fashion.
Woods has gone on to win 70 more times on TOUR since his rookie campaign, including 13 more major championships, while setting numerous records along the way.
Three of those victories for Woods, who now has 100 career wins worldwide, have come this season, inching him closer to Snead.
In doing so, it has perhaps again shed light on the old pro from The Greenbrier.
"Everybody knows about Sam Snead and the game of golf," Mickelson said. "Everybody knows he has the most TOUR wins."
For now, anyway.