Quick Hit: Federer vs. Woods Redux

After my Oscars party last night (did you see the Wii tennis game break out in the middle of the Oscars broadcast by the way?) I was pretty exhausted so I sat bleary eyed flipping back and forth between ESPN News and ESPN SportsCenter. Pathetic I know but I’m a sports junkie. Anyway, ESPN was using bracketology to determine the most dominant athlete during ESPN’s era (1979 to the present) and they’d whittled the field down to Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. At that point, one of the sportscasters dismissed Roger Federer because Woods has to play the entire field.

This always pisses me off. It’s clearly not as important as the Serbia-Kosovo question but I get mad that non-tennis educated sportscasters bring up this tired and unsupportable argument for dismissing Roger.

Most golf tournaments use medal play which means that the lowest score wins and those who survive the cut are still standing on the last day of the tournament. Therefore, the argument goes, Tiger is playing against the entire field. Tennis tournaments are single elimination so only two players are left standing on the last day and the champion only has to win his way through his part of the draw.

In response to the argument, I offer you the following question:

If the four golf majors were match play (single elimination) instead of medal play, would Tiger have reached the final day in ten straight majors?

That’s how many consecutive slam finals Federer reached and I’m pretty confident the answer is no, Tiger would not have reached the final day in ten straight majors. One day of bad putts and errant drives and he’d be done.

Both of these unbelievable athletes will likely surpass the record holder in their sport for major wins by the time their careers have ended. I’ll give Woods the slight edge because he’s won all four majors and Roger has yet to win the French Open though Tiger doesn’t have to skate around on clay and he doesn’t have 150mph (240kmh) serves whizzing past his ear. And if Tiger wins all four majors in the same year, he clearly gets the “most dominant” designation because it doesn’t look like Federer will pull that off.

Just don’t give me this “Woods has to play the entire field” crap, okay?