In a Golf Digest interview in June of 2001, legendary golf writer Dan Jenkins predicted that Tiger Woods would win 24 majors.
The 25-year-old Tiger had already won six by that point, putting him one-third of the way to Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 with 20 solid years left to play.
Jenkins told Golf Digest that the sport had never seen anything like Tiger.
He also delivered this ominous quote about the only thing standing in Tiger’s way:
“Only two things can stop Tiger — injury or a bad marriage.”
That is, sadly, exactly what happened.
Tiger won the 2008 U.S. Open with a broken leg and a torn ACL.
Since then he has injured his back, neck, knees, an Achilles. At the same time his marriage fell apart in the worst, most publicly humiliating way possible.
Between the 1997 Masters and the 2008 U.S. Open Tiger didn’t miss a single major, winning 14 of the 46 tournaments.
Since the 2008 U.S. Open he has missed five majors due to injury, and hasn’t won.
He’s still probably the best golfer in the world. But he’s not the transcendent force that he was at age 25, which is a shame for everyone who likes sports.
Here’s the full Jenkins quote, which is remarkable in retrospect:
“I never thought I’d ever see a greater shotmaker than Hogan or a greater winner than Nicklaus, but I have. It’s Tiger. Not that I still wouldn’t want Ben to get the drive in the fairway for me for my life. But Tiger makes all those other slugs out there today look like they don’t even know how to play. We’re talking about a truly remarkable athlete here. Something the game has never seen. Only two things can stop Tiger — injury or a bad marriage.”
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