Thursday, September 18, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

John Smallwood | Woods, Federer in classes unto themselves

IF YOU ARE a fan of dominance, you really have to appreciate what happened last weekend in California and Australia.

On Sunday in San Diego, Tiger Woods won the Buick Invitational, running his PGA Tour winning streak to seven.

That's the second-longest in tour history behind the 11 straight that Byron Nelson won in 1945.

Woods shot a 6-under-par 66, the best score of the week, to finish 15-under and beat Charles Howell III by two strokes.

Amazingly, it wasn't the most captivating performance of the day. Much earlier in Melbourne, at around 4:30 a.m. Eastern time, Woods' good friend and

Nike compadre, Roger Federer, was finishing off Fernando Gonzalez to win the Australian Open.

It wasn't just that Federer beat Gonzalez, 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-4, in the final. It wasn't just that Federer won his 10th Grand Slam singles title.

It was that Federer ran through the Australian by winning 21 straight sets - that's a sweep of straight matches over 2 weeks.

The last man to win a major without losing a set was the legendary Bjorn Borg, at the 1980 French Open.

We are witnessing immortality in the making. In Woods and Federer, we are watching two athletes who someday may be considered the absolute best their sport ever has produced.

At their current pace, considering both are just entering their prime, they might set the championship bars so high they never will be equaled. If you think that's a stretch, you really haven't been paying attention to what these guys are doing.

Considering the popularity of Woods, most are aware only that he is chasing the record of 18 major titles held by Jack Nicklaus. Unless Woods, 31, suffers some kind of devastating injury or simply loses interest in golf, I doubt there is anyone who believes he won't surpass the Golden Bear.

I think the only question is how many more than 18 will Woods eventually win.

Nobody on the PGA Tour or on the horizon looms as a serious threat to Woods - not such contemporaries as Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh or Sergio Garcia, not some rising star like Howell.

There is Woods and everybody else, and everybody else is such a step down they're not worth adding to the debate - unless, of course, you comparing them and the rest of the players on the ATP Tour besides Federer.

Pete Sampras holds the men's record with 14 Grand Slam singles titles. Federer, 25, is on pace to obliterate that. He is the only man in history to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 3 consecutive years.

If he runs that streak to four this season, he'll have 12 major

titles before the end of 2007, 13 if he wins the French Open beforehand.

Since he already is the only man to have won three separate majors three times, it's likely he will pass Sampras with 15 in 2008, at which time he will be only 27.

And if Federer figures out his only weakness, clay - and considering he reached his first French Open finals last year, there's a good chance that he has - he could do things in the next two seasons that no man

ever accomplished.

Federer has greater mastery over other tennis players than Woods has over golfers.

He's won 36 consecutive matches and is 55-1 since losing in the 2006 French Open final to Rafael Nadal. Dating back to the 2006 Masters Cup, Federer has won 30 consecutive sets.

In the future, when you look up dominance, instead of a definition, there might be only pictures of Woods and Federer. *

Send e-mail to

smallwj@phillynews.com.

For recent columns, go to

http://go.philly.com/smallwood.

Daily News Staff
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