Wear White on Sundays

The No. 1 reason Rory McIlroy won the 2014 PGA Championship and the Wanamaker Trophy yesterday was that he wore white pants. That’s a fact. If you check the slacks worn by the major champions since the last time Tiger Woods won his 14th major in 2008 (wearing his Sunday customary black slacks and red top), you’ll find that the winners most often wore white.

Come Sunday of a major championship, golfers have to make a statement with their sticks, no doubt. But the eventual champions really make a loud statement that everyone else is playing for second place when they stride to the first tee wearing bright, white pants.

Granted, sponsoring clothing manufacturers influence the duds players don on tournament Sunday. But wise players know that if your backside is covered in unblemished and blinding white, you’re making an all-in, flaunt-the-greatness statement that you’ve got the game to back up the bold bottoms.

Statistical Proof

Athletes are superstitious and will go with their lucky colors in key moments. And the luckiest color seems to be white. In pro football, it’s the jersey, not the pants, that’s important. Over the past nine Super Bowls, eight of the winning teams wore white jerseys. And over the history of the Super Bowl, the team in white has won 62 percent of the time.

In golf, in the six years and 24 majors since 2008, the year Tiger Woods won his last major, his 14th, wearing his Sunday customary black slacks and red shirt:

  • Four of the six PGA Championship winners wore white slacks on Sunday (2009 Yang Yong-eun; 2011 Keegan Bradley; 2013 Jason Dufner and wife, Amanda; and 2014 McIlroy).
  • Thirteen of the last 24 major champions wore white on Sunday. Included in this figure is the bone-white worn by Adam Scott in the 2013 Masters, the cream-colored slacks worn by Angel Cabrera for the 2009 Masters and the khakis worn by Lucas Glover in the 2009 U.S. Open.
  • Seven of the 24 wore black.
  • Four wore gray.

McIlroy has worn white bottoms on Sunday for two of his major wins (2014 PGA and the 2011 U.S. Open) and gray slacks for the other two (2014 British Open and 2012 PGA Championship). And as well as Rickie Fowler has played in the four majors this year, he no doubt he would have won at least one of them had he worn white pants on Sunday. He wears white pants a lot, but for some reason for the final round of the majors this year, he handicapped himself with gray slacks twice, black once and white once but with orange stripes (almost).

Simple Cure for Tiger

Poor Woods, who is hip deep in advice about turning his game around and recovering some of the pure greatness of his old swing. Here’s the simple-and-elegant solution: Abandon the black bottoms and change to white pants on Sunday. Do that and you’re a sure bet to pass the Jack Nicklaus record of 18 major wins.

One final, sad-but-true fact about Tom Watson’s tragic loss in the 2009 British Open at Turnberry: Had he worn white pants on that storied day, he would have won his ninth major championship, his sixth British Open and would have become the oldest to win a major. Instead, the golf gods smiled on Stewart Cink, the winner that day who hasn’t done much since. But he did one key thing right that Sunday, long before the decisive playoff hole. He put on white pants.

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