'Non-Tiger Winners' Still Rule PGA Tour

NEW YORK -- Write down these names: Mark O'Meara, Steve Jones and John Cook. They are the "other'' winners on the PGA Tour this year -- the "non-Tiger'' winners. And they have 80 percent of the victories in 1997.


Write down this prediction: Tiger Woods will not win 10 PGA Tour events this year. Or eight. Or even six. There are too many other great players.


In the eyes of some, the PGA Tour has become two tours -- those tournaments with Tiger Woods and those without him. But that perception does a disservice to everyone who makes a living playing golf.


The talent level on the PGA Tour goes a lot deeper than Woods.


Still, Woods' victory in a meaningless tournament in Thailand over the weekend drew more attention than O'Meara's second straight tour win.


Certainly it is an overpowering statement of Woods' greatness to even speculate that he could win 10 times in a year.


Only three players have had double-figure victory seasons in the history of the PGA Tour -- Ben Hogan twice, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead once each. And no one has done it since Snead in 1950.


A first at the Mercedes and a second at Pebble Beach were compelling achievements for Woods. But don't forget that O'Meara has a 14th, a fourth and two firsts. Or that Parnevik has two seconds and a third.


And don't forget that, in winning the Asian Honda Classic in Thailand, all Woods had for competition was Frank Nobilo, Steve Elkington and Curtis Strange -- three good players, but only three.


Woods' greatness will not be determined by how many Asian Honda Classics he wins, or how many Australian Masters he wins. He will have to make his mark on the game in the four major championships and on the PGA Tour.