Watching the U.S. Open today was to me the clearest reason why Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer that has ever played the game. I know that Tiger still has a few majors to win before he passes Jack Nicklaus but today was the most glaring example of why it isn't even close when comparing the two.
Each week the competition and the fields are deeper and stronger than anything Nicklaus or any other golfer previous to Woods has ever had to endure. When the 158th golfer in the world can play stroke for stroke in the biggest event in the world it tells you what kind of competition Tiger faces on a week in and week out basis.
The other fact remains that Tiger faces the best golfers in the world. When Nicklaus was playing there were a few foreign players that were capable of challenging, but not nearly the same number that are being pumped out of Europe, Australia and the Far East year after year.
This is all said not to denigrate anything that those great golfers of the past have done. If you could put Nicklaus at age 32 up against Woods at 32 I am quite certain that if they played 10 times in a row that Jack would win a couple. But to compare an era when week after week there are legitimately 100 players who have a chance to win. There is no comparison that Tiger is the greatest golfer that ever played.