Saturday, July 2, 2011

fourteen red shirts (a new golf art print of Tiger Woods)

"fourteen red shirts" by golf artist Steven Anthony Salerno     -visit

Back in 2009, when the PGA Tour's official web site was showcasing many of my golf art portraits of top Tour players in their Player Spotlight feature section... I had started a somewhat ambitious "portrait" of Tiger Woods, which was going to consist of fourteen very small gouache & watercolor paintings (each one is only about 3.5" tall) of the (then) world # 1 ranked player. The concept for this art image was to depict Tiger Woods in his recognizable Sunday red shirt from each of the final rounds of his 14 major championship victories... but I didn't finish the project, and put the paintings aside, some finished, but many were not. Then, a couple weeks ago I finally decided to go ahead and finish all these small paintings... wanting the resulting piece, a new limited edition golf print entitled "fourteen red shirts" to express my view that Tiger is still a top contender and still the one to chase down the record for the most major championship victories held by Jack Nicklaus
(detail view) "14 red shirts" by golf artist Steven Anthony Salerno     -visit

From a graphic standpoint the art print is a simple grid of the 14 little vignette portraits of the star player. Each pose depicts his swing, putt, or stride -from the actual final round action of the corresponding major championship event, as well as the specific style red shirt he was wearing when he won the tournament that day. Underneath each painting is text giving the year and site of the event. At the bottom of the print I purposely left some blank spaces, to pointedly imply that Tiger's record of 14 majors is not going to end there... he will certainly be adding more major victories. When people view my print "fourteen red shirts" I know some will read an opposite meaning to the blank spaces... that Tiger has imploded and his major record will remain at 14. Time will only prove them wrong.

A lot has transpired for Tiger from the time I first started the paintings in 2009 (he was still ranked #1), to when I recently completed them in 2011 (Tiger is now ranked about #17th in the world), all which has required him to catch his emotional footing and to redefine himself. Relative to his quest to reach and possibly surpass the record of 18 major championship victories, Tiger's fall from grace, injury, and the simultaneous rise of new younger players has lead many to believe Tiger's magical momentum is not just interrupted, but gone. A better person arises when getting up after a fall... so don't count him out. Tiger is young, his body will repair itself. He will continue to regain stability within his personal and public life...

(detail view) "14 red shirts" by golf artist Steven Anthony Salerno     -visit
So, whether it is later this year, or next year, or even the year after, at some point Tiger Woods is going to start playing well again...and when he does, his experience of 71 victories and 14 major championships is going to kick back in. He is a different person now, and will have to find a corresponding different way to get it done on the course... I suspect in a similar manner to when Hogan had to find a new way to win again after a major car accident altered his personal landscape. Can Tiger win at the same pace he did before? The answer is no, but does it really matter? If my math serves me correctly, to date as a professional, Tiger has played in about 61 majors and won 14 of them... an astounding win rate of about 23%! 

Hypothetically, let's assume that Tiger does not play in the remaining majors of 2011. So, at age 36, if Tiger then plays in every major until he is 46 years old (the same age that Nicklaus won his last major championship), this is 40 more major events in which to compete. Therefore,Tiger will need to win 10% (4 victories) of these remaining 40 events to tie Nicklaus. Most players would love to win 4 majors in their entire career, so as a mere "next segment" of Tiger's golfing career, a task of winning 4 more majors could seem daunting if not impossible... but considering he has the experience of already winning 14 out 61 majors, it begins to seem possible that such a great player could now go on to win 4 out of the next 40 majors. There is also the possibility that Tiger could effectively contend in even more majors, until he is 50 years old (channeling the spirit of Sam Snead) which would mean he'd only have to win 4 out of the next 56 major events to tie the Nicklaus record.
(detail view) "14 red shirts" by golf artist Steven Anthony Salerno     -visit

At age 22 Rory McIlroy just won his first major championship. And understandably the critics are already predicting he could very well be the next superstar player to attack the Nicklaus majors record. Again, using the age of 46 as a hypothetical "competitive stop date" for competing in majors, if Rory plays in every major for the next 24 years (96 events), he will have to win about 18% of them to attain a total of 18 majors by the age of 46. There is sound reasoning at this early stage to believe that Rory's amazing talents could make this all happen... but if one can imagine such a magnificent future career arc for Rory, one would also have to concede that 4 wins out of 40 for the likes of a Tiger Woods is just as distinct a possibility as well. 

Whatever transpires, golf fans are in for some amazing championship tournament golf over the next couple decades, and Mr. Jack Nicklaus could still be sitting on top when the dust clears. 

This new golf art print, "fourteen red shirts" signed and numbered by artist Steven Anthony Salerno is available in an exclusive edition (limited to only 100 prints) at in the "exclusive edition" gallery. Each print is printed on 100% cotton archival fine art paper with vivid permanent pigment inks.

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