Woods named most dominant athlete of past 20 years

We’re talking about sportsmen and women who have a made the most dominant impact in their chosen sports here.

And you can argue all you like about the past few years, yet Tiger Woods remains at the top of the tree as the most dominant athlete of the past 20 years, according to leading US magazine ESPN.

Tiger Woods Tiger Woods (Credit: Anthony Powter)

For its 20th anniversary edition, the magazine rated the best, and obviously there were some surprises and for sports fans Down Under there were some sportspeople we had barely heard of – unless we followed Nascars, women’s soccer and even Formula 1 racing.

Obviously they all deserved their status but Woods sits comfortably at the top – and even that may inadvertently be a tip for this year’s first major championship of the year.

Naturally tennis fans will hail the great Roger Federer as No 1, while basketball fans will surely go into bat for Lebron James.

So how can a golfer who has won only eight tournaments in the past nine years be the most dominant athlete of the past 20?

Simple! Look at the stats for the 11 years before that.

You only have to consider the first decade to assess Woods’ dominant run.

It came at a time when golf’s players of the year averaged 3.1 wins.

From 1999 through until 2009, Woods averaged 5.8 wins per season and won the Player of the Year award nine times.

He was that far ahead of golf’s ‘next best’ that it wasn’t funny.

He won 13 of 35 majors from late 1999 to mid-2008, while no other golfer won more than three; three times he won five or more consecutive tournaments…and the last man to win five in a row was Ben Hogan in 1953.

And of the 45 times he held the outright lead heading into the final round, Woods won 43 of those – a 95.6 per cent success rate.

And how’s this for a stat? From 2002 through until 2005, it was pointed out that Woods faced 1,716 putts of three feet or less…and he made all but four.

Just too good.

For the record, the top 10 sportspeople of the past 20 years, in order, were:

Tiger Woods, Lebron James, Peyton Manning, Jimmie Johnson, Roger Federer, Annika Sorenstam, Michael Schumacher, Floyd Mayweather and Usain Bolt.

Let the arguments begin.