Sam Snead’s record of 82 wins is highly dubious, and Tiger should have the record

April 29, 2024

Should you get one for a 36-hole exhibition played against three other players?

Should you get one for an event with no other PGA Tour pros where you beat a bunch of club pros by 16 shots?

As you might have guessed, these are not hypothetical questions. About a decade before Tiger Woods made his PGA Tour debut, a panel was convened by Deane Beman, commissioner of the PGA Tour, with the job of reviewing pre-merger tournaments and deciding what was official and what was not.

A year of research predated this meeting, but the actual decisions were made by nine men who hadn’t all been involved in the research phase, and it was done in a single afternoon. More importantly, one of their standards was “historical significance,” which gave them latitude to go beyond what might be thought of as a legitimate Tour event today, or what was even thought of as such at the time.

The result was that tournaments fitting the descriptions above were credited to Snead, who came away with 81 wins to his name (81 became 82 when an Open Championship was later added). Ironically, this upset Snead; he thought he should have more. But in further proof that history is strange, this number, 82, became the exact total Tiger Woods has landed on at the twilight of his career. The two men are tied, and may stay in this deadlock forever.

The difference is, while Snead’s 82 is full of cheap wins, Tiger doesn’t have a single illegitimate win on his resume. As Alex Myers pointed out in a piece here at Digest, if you used the Snead standard on Tiger’s resume, he’d have close to 100 wins.

And yet, here we are, deadlocked. In this week’s episode of Local Knowledge, we take a close look not just at the discrepancy between the dueling 82s, but at the fascinating history behind how we got here, and whether there’s any chance for an ultimate review that gives Tiger his rightful place atop the PGA Tour summit.