Tiger has golden goal

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

It's an argument that can't be won or lost but is hashed over daily in clubhouses around the world:

Who are the 10 best golfers of all time?

Obviously, there's no definitive answer yet a handful of fairway legends belong on any knowledgeable golfer's list.

Sun sports writer Dan Toth asked Calgary's Stephen Ames, who has played professionally around the world, to offer up his all-time greats.

The native of Trinidad and Tobago, who gained his Canadian citizenship a year ago, has been fortunate enough to tee it up with a couple of the golf gods who earned a place on his honour roll.

Who Ames selected -- and why -- will be revealed in this special 10-part series.

In no particular order, here are the golfers Ames most admires:

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#1 JACK NICKLAUS

#2 BOBBY JONES

#3 BEN HOGAN

#4 BYRON NELSON

#5 WALTER HAGEN

#6 TIGER WOODS

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NO. 6

TIGER WOODS

Real name -- Eldrick Woods.

Born -- Dec. 30, 1975.

Nickname -- Tiger.

Majors -- Masters (1997, 2001, 02), U.S. Open (2000, 02), British Open (2000) PGA (1999, 2000)

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Through just eight seasons, Tiger Woods has already guaranteed his place among the greatest golfers of all time.

The only remaining question regards how high his star will ascend.

With eight majors to his credit, Woods has earned his spot among the five men to win the career Grand Slam.

And while he's also the PGA Tour's all-time money leader, his goal of challenging Jack Nicklaus' record in major championships will define the rest of his career.

"He's there already, without a doubt," Calgary PGA Tour star Stephen Ames says of adding Woods, 29, to his list of all-time greats.

Despite occasional struggles the last couple of seasons and the temporary loss of his No. 1 status to Vijay Singh, Woods continues as a favourite in the majors every year.

His recent final round duel with Phil Mickelson to win at Doral, reclaiming his stake as the world's top player, is proof once again he is the dominant player of this era.

"That's where Tiger's game is right now. He's too good not to work it out," Ames says.

"His mind is his greatest strength."

Woods's so-called decline after losing the No. 1 title to Singh last fall had some suggesting it could be the end of Tiger's dominance.

"It definitely could be," Ames suggests.

"He's gotten married and they'll start having kids in the next couple of years."

Although Woods may never again completely dominant the game,

Nicklaus's career record for majors still looms.

"It's hard to say if he can catch him," Ames says. "He's definitely capable but that would be a hell of a feat.

"If I could play in that time, that era, I'd love to see it."

Tiger's domination has been a boon to the PGA Tour, doubling purses since his arrival less than a decade ago.

Ames says Woods's presence will continue making the world's top golf loop a financial windfall.

"If he continues winning like he did, the purses go through the roof and we end up making more money even for finishing second or third," Ames points out.

"That's how some of the players look at it.

"Some players think if he comes back to the pack towards everyone else, more players have a better chance of winning.

"That's how I look at it.

"From TV's aspect, if he keeps winning, financially it's better for everyone else. They don't always show you the guys who are winning.

"They're showing the guys who are playing from the States, like Tiger. It's the same for all the networks but it's their network and they have the right to show who they want.

"It's the same for Canadian golfers. They don't show Canadian golfers because it's not a Canadian network. That's a battle we have to deal with."


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