Trying to parse out the respective greatness of golf’s two winningest major champions is probably the sport’s biggest unsolved mystery.
Jack’s supporters, largely those who lived through his career, tend to look at the one big marker that Nicklaus certainly beats Woods in: major championship wins, as currently defined. 18 remains a larger number than 14, after all. They also point out the Hall of Fame-level competition that Jack had to face throughout his career, including Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, and Tom Watson.
And Tiger’s supporters, generally younger, look to most other stats. Tiger leads Jack in PGA Tour wins, worldwide wins, Vardon Trophies, money titles, and many more. There’s also a very pervasive argument that Tiger’s competition, despite not having the dozen big names of Jack’s day, was far deeper, and presented a more of a weekly challenge where 100 different players were skilled enough to win rather than 20.
It’s an argument that often gets emotional and irrational, but if we want a real answer, we’re going to have to break it down.