Who is the more dominant performer?
Around the ESPN.com water cooler, it's a debate that sees more consternation than "Tastes great" versus "Less filling": Who is the more dominant performer, Tiger Woods or Roger Federer?
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Each stated his case with another stunning victory on Sunday, as Woods claimed the Buick Invitational for his seventh consecutive PGA Tour victory and Federer notched the Australian Open for his third straight Grand Slam title.
If anything, the two players only added fuel to the fire with their most recent wins. Golf editor Jason Sobel and frequent tennis contributor Matt Wilansky debate which player is the most dominant athlete in this edition of Alternate Shot.
That's all well and good, but I wonder what would happen if there were 155 players on the other side of the net, all firing their best shots at him. Sound ridiculous? Well, it is ... and it's exactly what Tiger Woods faces every time he tees it up.
Upon winning this week's Buick Invitational, Woods now owns seven consecutive PGA Tour events. Add 'em up and you'll find that's 899 fellow competitors who have been defeated by the world's No. 1-ranked golfer during that span.
That's a career and a half for a guy like Federer, who will always have a competitive advantage because in tennis, the situations don't change as often. Sure, he might play on hard court, grass or clay, but the baselines and service lines remain constant. Meanwhile, Tiger's most recent victory came on Torrey Pines' South Course, a bomber's paradise at 7,568 yards and a far cry from the initial win of his streak at the British Open, which was contended on a fast, firm Hoylake course that played like it was about 5,500 yards. Tiger used his driver only once during that tournament. Call me when Federer wins Wimbledon with a wooden racket.
And then there's this: Federer has never won the career Grand Slam, still searching for a French Open title. From where I sit, that makes him more Arnold Palmer or Tom Watson (each of whom failed to win the elusive PGA Championship) than Tiger Woods, who has not only won all four majors, he's done it twice.
Federer is great, there's no doubt about it. But by winning on so many different venues, under so many different conditions, Woods has shown his game is truly
And that is the mark of a dominant champion.
-- Jason Sobel
Federer etched his name into the record books once again after winning the Australian Open, his 10th career Grand Slam title and third Down Under.
He became the first player in the Open era to win three consecutive majors twice in a career. Since the start of 2006, his achievements are mind-numbing. Federer is 99-5 including 13 titles. Remarkably, he has failed to reach the final of any tournament just once in 18 events during that span.
Federer -- who is less than a month shy of breaking Jimmy Connors' record of consecutive weeks ranked No. 1 -- saved his most brilliant tennis for his latest championship. At the Aussie Open, he failed to drop a set, becoming the first player since Bjorn Borg 27 years ago to pull off this feat.
Since the start of 2004, not a soul has come close to knocking the Swiss juggernaut off course. Federer has won nine of 13 Grand Slam events he has participated in. In the same span, Tiger Woods (who has played in one fewer major event) won just four times. And in the four occurrences that Federer came up short, he reached at least the semifinals three times. His final lines don't read like those of Tiger: MC, T-22, T-17 or T-24.
In the past three-plus years, Federer has collectively compiled a 254-15 record and 35 titles in 50 tournaments. By comparison, Woods has won 16 titles in 56 events in a much less physically taxing profession.
Few will argue Federer hasn't received deserving accolades, but when Woods was voted the 2006 AP Athlete of the Year, the golfer responded, "What [Federer] has done in tennis, I think, is far greater than what I've done in golf."
-- Matt Wilansky
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