Rafael Nadal won his second U.S. Open and 13th Grand Slam title on Monday, beating No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic at Flushing Meadows in four sets.
Nadal now trails all-time Slam leader Roger Federer by just four majors, barely into his 28th year of life.
Most of Nadal’s major wins, however, have come at the French Open, which he has taken an incredible eight times in his career. In fact, he’s only ever lost once at Roland Garros. Once. He’s won 59 of 60 matches at the clay-court Mecca.
Does golf have anyone that’s even close to Rafael Nadal? You could say Tiger Woods, sure, but he’s won practically everywhere. Then again, he’s won more often in more places than anyone in golf history. He has eight wins at Bay Hill, Torrey Pines and Firestone C.C. in Akron, Ohio. That’s more than any one player — save for Sam Snead — has in any single tournament.
Woods, however, like his friend Roger Federer, has a pretty even distribution on his 14 major titles. Tiger Woods has won four Masters titles, three U.S. Open titles, three Open Championship titles and four PGA Championships.
Among the greats in golf’s major-championship history, perhaps its Tom Watson or Peter Thomson who are most like Nadal. Both won the Open Championship five times in their careers. For Watson, those were five of eight major wins. For Thomson, all of his majors came in the lone overseas major.
Bobby Locke won the Open Championship four times, accounting for his only major wins. Jimmy Demaret won the Masters three times and no other majors. Hale Irwin only won the U.S. Open for his three majors.
So, Watson is golf’s Nadal. Sounds good, except for Watson’s almost-winning-the-Open-at-59 thing.
Also, Rafael Nadal is actually a pretty good golfer, according to buddy Sergio Garcia.
Sergio Garcia told me Rafa Nadal shoots about 6 or 7 over, but doesn’t have a very pretty golf swing.
— Ryan Ballengee (@RyanBallengee) August 24, 2011