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Strength of Field in Jack's Day and Tiger's Day - Page 2

Poll Results: Loosely Related Question (consider the thread topic-please dont just repeat the GOAT thread): Which is the more impressive feat?

 
  • 14% (10)
    Winning 20 majors in the 60s-80s.
  • 85% (59)
    Winning 17 majors in the 90s-10s.
69 Total Votes  
post #19 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by pholmes View Post

I think something as simple as being able to travel so easily and comfortably must help give players that are traveling a better shot at winning events that would have been much more demanding 40 years ago. That probably brings more possible winners into the field each week.

Absolutely spot on.  The depth of field these days has to be stronger than it was 40 years ago and the ease of travel undoubtedly aids that.  The rise of better golf equipment technology has also driven the number of players who can play at the very highest level.  As already stated here circa 80 players were within 2 shots of the PGA Tour best Scoring Average last season - which was posted by Steve Stricker.  Going back to 1980, that number was 40 players.

post #20 of 202
Originally Posted by mvmac View Post
 

 

Just to clarify, you're saying that the fields as a whole are weaker now (late 90's to now) than they were in the 60's-80's? 

 

 

No. I picked option 1 because I think Jack’s major wins were more impressive than Tiger’s. I think the overall field strength is stronger today than it was back then. I just don’t think the whole field matters that much.

 

In any major tournament, X number miss the cut. How strong they were on paper didn’t matter. Jack or Tiger didn’t beat them, they played themselves out of the tournament in 2014 just like they did in 1966.

 

Of the remaining players that make the cut, how many really have decent chance? 10? 15?Anyone within 6-7 shots?

Obviously, most of those who make the cut, in either era, play themselves out of it. That leaves us with the handful of players who contend to the end of the major.

 

Jack got beat, a lot, by a very strong core of players in his 19 second place finishes. If that core had been deeper but weaker, similar to what Tiger has faced, he may have won 24-25 majors.

 

Competing against so many Hall of Famers in the prime of their careers, players that prove they can win the big one, is more impressive to me than winning against a larger group of lesser players.

post #21 of 202
Let's tease out the relative strength during Tiger's major winning years, between 1997-2008.

There may be room for an argument that the relative difference in strength of field between 1960 (Jack's near miss at the US Open) and 1997 isn't that great. The equipment and player explosion happened (or was at least exponentially accelerated by) Tiger's explosion into the scene. Is it possible that Tiger has been a victim of his own success?

Hypothesis: years 1997-2000 Tiger emerges as the likely GOAT. He causes an explosion of interest in the game, creating new players and inspiring younger ones to work harder. Equipment companies have massive new markets, creating an infusion of cash into the industry. That cash spurs equipment revolutions.

Fast forward 10 years to 2010. No doubt that the fields are immensely stronger in 2010 than in 1960 or 1997. So strong, in fact, that Tiger no longer wins majors. (Not saying he can't, only that he hasn't).

Since Tiger was winning majors hand over fist from 1997-2002, but can't win at all from 2009-2014, doesn't that leave open the possibility that the real increase in strength of field happened as a result of Tiger, and not prior to Tiger? That would open the argument that, in the winning years, Tiger wasn't facing fields quite as strong relative to Jacks as they currently appear, looking back from 2010 and beyond.
Edited by k-troop - 4/23/14 at 9:34am
post #22 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by RH31 View Post
 

No. I picked option 1 because I think Jack’s major wins were more impressive than Tiger’s. I think the overall field strength is stronger today than it was back then. I just don’t think the whole field matters that much.

 

Of course the whole field matters - your "cut" math doesn't make sense. You can't just cut out players that miss the cut… they're not being judged against a universal standard, they're being judged against the rest of the field. It's tougher to win, to make cuts, to finish top ten, etc. in a stronger field than a weaker one.

 

To put it another way… If a field in Jack's day was comprised of 10 "A" players and 20 "B" players and 100+ "C" players, it's easier to not only make cuts but to win tournaments compared to playing against a field with 5 "A" players and 120+ "B" players. And that's despite Jack himself saying that average players today ("B" players) would have been superstars ("A" players) in his day.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RH31 View Post
 

That leaves us with the handful of players who contend to the end of the major.

 

You can't eliminate everyone based only on who is within a few shots towards the end of a major. That's basically the same thing as counting win totals and not worrying about anything else.

 

The strength of the field directly affects any one individual's ability to "contend to the end of the major" (and to win it, and to make the cut).

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RH31 View Post
 

Jack got beat, a lot, by a very strong core of players in his 19 second place finishes. If that core had been deeper but weaker, similar to what Tiger has faced, he may have won 24-25 majors.

 

You're assuming that the core was stronger. Jack may have faced weaker competition at every level than Tiger. Jack may himself have been a weaker player than Tiger. You're allowing your biases to affect how you see the strengths of the various fields and the individual players.

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RH31 View Post
 

Competing against so many Hall of Famers in the prime of their careers, players that prove they can win the big one, is more impressive to me than winning against a larger group of lesser players.

 

In my example above, the ten "A" players will ALSO have an easier time picking off majors, because they're only competing against a few others capable of winning.

 

Today, with far more people capable of winning majors, it gets much more difficult. That's the argument you're not seeing. You seem to be stuck on "But Jack won 20 and Lee Trevino was good then too" despite the fact that BOTH could be caused because everyone was a poorer player back then.

 

Arnold Palmer won 7 majors, while Harry Vardon won 7 as well. One could easily make the case that, compared to the same standard, Arnie would kick the crap out of Harry Vardon on a golf course. Harry won 7 majors (and could have won a ton more if they existed back then, and he could travel to play in them all) largely because his competition was so incredibly weak.

 

Who's the better golfer: Phil Mickelson or Byron Nelson? It's Phil and it's not even close, despite the fact that both have five majors to their name.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by k-troop View Post

There may be room for an argument that the relative difference in strength of field between 1960 (Jack's near miss at the US Open) and 1997 isn't that great. The equipment and player explosion happened (or was at least exponentially accelerated by) Tiger's explosion into the scene. Is it possible that Tiger has been a victim of his own success?

 

I think you have to consider Arnie's influence on expanding the game, as well as the influences in Europe and Asia (less of the latter).

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by k-troop View Post

Since Tiger was winning majors hand over fist from 1997-2002, but can't win at all from 2009-2014, doesn't that leave open the possibility that the real increase in strength of field happened as a result of Tiger, and not prior to Tiger? That would open the argument that, in the winning years, Tiger wasn't facing fields quite as strong relative to Jacks as they currently appear, looking back from 2010 and beyond.

 

Not really, because you're not factoring in injuries, surgeries, and a swing change (he didn't win again until the PGA in 1999), and so on.

 

And though it's not my thread, I think it's also not really the topic here. The topic seems to be discussing the relative strengths of field during Tiger's career and Jack's career.

post #23 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by pholmes View Post

I think something as simple as being able to travel so easily and comfortably must help give players that are traveling a better shot at winning events that would have been much more demanding 40 years ago. That probably brings more possible winners into the field each week.

 

Of course.  One of the big advantages the big guys had in Jack's day is that THEY could afford planes and easy travel while the restof the tour drove from event to event and stayed in cheap motels.  Frank Beard's book _Pro_ gives a very good picture of what tour like was like for a very very good player (he won the money title in the year the book is based on).

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RH31 View Post

 

Jack got beat, a lot, by a very strong core of players in his 19 second place finishes. If that core had been deeper but weaker, similar to what Tiger has faced, he may have won 24-25 majors.

 

Competing against so many Hall of Famers in the prime of their careers, players that prove they can win the big one, is more impressive to me than winning against a larger group of lesser players.

 

So Jack was wrong when he said the exact opposite thing in his 1996 book (extensively quoted in the other thread)?

 

You reasoning is also off klter, since thsoe HoF players you are talking about ALSO benefitted from the weak fields of the day.  Just ask yourself, if Trevino was around in his prime today would he win more than MAYBE a major or two?  I doubt it.

post #24 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post
 

 

And though it's not my thread, I think it's also not really the topic here. The topic seems to be discussing the relative strengths of field during Tiger's career and Jack's career.

 

Yeah, the point I was trying to make was lost in the argument (hard to draft a cohesive argument in just a few minutes).  Essentially, the point is this:  the strength of the field in "Tiger's career" might not have been consistent throughout his career.  It's possible that the latter part of Tiger's career (2008 and after, 10 years after Tiger's first major) have seen much, much stronger fields largely as a result of Tiger's influence.  If you agree with this, you might also agree that the fields in the first half of Tiger's career were closer to Jack's.

 

If you could assign a numerical quality to strength, with 10 being the strongest, it might look like this.

 

1960-1986:  strength of field is 5.

1987-2002:  strength of field is 6.

2003-2007:  strength of field is 7.

2008-2013:  strength of field is 9.

 

Essentially the fields were getting incrementally stronger, but the Tiger effect made that curve much steeper.  But based on the above model (for which I have no specific evidence, it's just a hypothesis for a model) you could argue that the early fields in Tiger's career were closer to Jack's than they were to the fields of today.

post #25 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by RH31 View Post

 

 

No. I picked option 1 because I think Jack’s major wins were more impressive than Tiger’s. I think the overall field strength is stronger today than it was back then. I just don’t think the whole field matters that much.

 

 

This thread is discussing strength of field, not specifically Jack vs Tiger. Of course the whole field matters, if the field is stronger, then it's more of a "feat" to win the tournament. Is it a bigger deal to win a Web.com event or The Players? Of course the latter because of the quality of the field.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RH31 View Post

 

 

Competing against so many Hall of Famers in the prime of their careers, players that prove they can win the big one, is more impressive to me than winning against a larger group of lesser players.

 

 

I think when you look back 20 years from now, there will be plenty of HOF players that Tiger competed against.

post #26 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by k-troop View Post
 

Yeah, the point I was trying to make was lost in the argument (hard to draft a cohesive argument in just a few minutes).  Essentially, the point is this:  the strength of the field in "Tiger's career" might not have been consistent throughout his career.  It's possible that the latter part of Tiger's career (2008 and after, 10 years after Tiger's first major) have seen much, much stronger fields largely as a result of Tiger's influence.  If you agree with this, you might also agree that the fields in the first half of Tiger's career were closer to Jack's.

 

If you could assign a numerical quality to strength, with 10 being the strongest, it might look like this.

 

1960-1986:  strength of field is 5.

1987-2002:  strength of field is 6.

2003-2007:  strength of field is 7.

2008-2013:  strength of field is 9.

 

I know what you're saying. I also think it would look more like 4, 5, 7, 9. But the point is in discussing the "4" (your "5") and the current "8" (we agree roughly on that number).

post #27 of 202
I believe there is a large disparity due to advances in club/ball technology, more athletic focus, better technology to analyze swing. Golf is more of a science than a feel anymore. With all these facts taken into consideration, there is less separation between the best and worst nowadays. You could be ranked dead last at average score and first place could be beating you by only a mere 1 or 2 strokes.
post #28 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

I know what you're saying. I also think it would look more like 4, 5, 7, 9. But the point is in discussing the "4" (your "5") and the current "8" (we agree roughly on that number).

As I think about this it occurs to me that this could actually be more evidence of Tiger's superiority if you compare margin of victory in Tiger's first six major wins (I believe thru 2001) and compare them to Jack's margin thru any six consecutive majors Jack won. I'd do it myself but that's not the topic here (and I'm headed out to play golf, hehe).
post #29 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by jclark View Post

I believe there is a large disparity due to advances in club/ball technology, more athletic focus, better technology to analyze swing. Golf is more of a science than a feel anymore. With all these facts taken into consideration, there is less separation between the best and worst nowadays. You could be ranked dead last at average score and first place could be beating you by only a mere 1 or 2 strokes.

You need to add access to the sport as well.  When I was a kid, a lot less of my age group had access to golf due to economics or even interest from watching it on TV.  There is a lot more media exposure now and the money from tournaments is a lot more attractive.  So you get more young people learning to play and more skilled players.

post #30 of 202
Think about it.

In general these days, it's the same pool of guys in the top 10 in Majors. In Jack's prime, same thing. there was always Arnie (early on, anyway), Casper, Player, etc... The cream of the crop filled out the leader boards for the most part. I would say that's a pretty strong field. Plus, Jack came in 2nd about a hundred time or something against these guys. Tiger, if he wasn't winning, he barley cracked the first page of the leader board.

And even today- yes, you get guys from all over the place and crawling out of every mini tour to make a splash on the boards early on. But on Sundays, who shows up? the same top guys that are always around, and THEY aren't exactly chopped liver.
post #31 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by RH31 View Post
 

 

 

No. I picked option 1 because I think Jack’s major wins were more impressive than Tiger’s. I think the overall field strength is stronger today than it was back then. I just don’t think the whole field matters that much.

 

In any major tournament, X number miss the cut. How strong they were on paper didn’t matter. Jack or Tiger didn’t beat them, they played themselves out of the tournament in 2014 just like they did in 1966.

 

Of the remaining players that make the cut, how many really have decent chance? 10? 15?Anyone within 6-7 shots?

Obviously, most of those who make the cut, in either era, play themselves out of it. That leaves us with the handful of players who contend to the end of the major.

 

Jack got beat, a lot, by a very strong core of players in his 19 second place finishes. If that core had been deeper but weaker, similar to what Tiger has faced, he may have won 24-25 majors.

 

Competing against so many Hall of Famers in the prime of their careers, players that prove they can win the big one, is more impressive to me than winning against a larger group of lesser players.

 

I may be missing something, but those two highlighted statements don't go together. I don't think you can say the overall field strength is stronger today, but yet consider them lesser players that those of the past.

 

I'm not sure you can also say that the field doesn't matter that much, but base the impressiveness of someone's wins off the strength of the field ("Competing against so many hall of famers in their prime").

post #32 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayG View Post

Think about it.

In general these days, it's the same pool of guys in the top 10 in Majors. In Jack's prime, same thing. there was always Arnie (early on, anyway), Casper, Player, etc... The cream of the crop filled out the leader boards for the most part. I would say that's a pretty strong field. Plus, Jack came in 2nd about a hundred time or something against these guys. Tiger, if he wasn't winning, he barley cracked the first page of the leader board.

And even today- yes, you get guys from all over the place and crawling out of every mini tour to make a splash on the boards early on. But on Sundays, who shows up? the same top guys that are always around, and THEY aren't exactly chopped liver.
I know the tour didn't start tracking stats until later...but look at the stats now. Today the difference between first and last on tour is usually very tight. This tells me the playing field is very tight. I wonder what those same stats would look like back then. I bet there is a larger disparity between first and last.
post #33 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayG View Post

Tiger, if he wasn't winning, he barley cracked the first page of the leader board.
 

 

I think you're speaking to more of what your impression is, here are the numbers, Masters, US Open, Open and PGA. Tiger was in contention plenty of times in majors he didn't win.

 

\

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RayG View Post

And even today- yes, you get guys from all over the place and crawling out of every mini tour to make a splash on the boards early on. But on Sundays, who shows up? the same top guys that are always around, and THEY aren't exactly chopped liver.
 

This season four of the last seven winners and six overall have been first timers. Out of 23 tournaments so far, 12 have been won by golfers 30 or younger.

 

From the PGA Championship in '08, Padraig Harrington, to the '12 Open Championship, Ernie Els, 16 different players won those 16 majors.

 


 

 

I'll add an article that came out before the '12 Open Championship with some interesting numbers

 

http://espn.go.com/golf/blog/_/name/golf/id/8147520/will-repeat-major-winner-please-stand-up

Quote:

 

• Since the beginning of 2009, there have been more major winners from outside the top 100 (three) than from inside the OWGR top 10 (two). The only two players in that span to win a major when ranked inside the top 10 are Rory McIlroy (eighth at the 2011 U.S. Open) and Phil Mickelson (third at the 2010 Masters).

• Compare that with the previous four-year span of 2005-2008. Ten of those 16 major champions were ranked inside the top 10 at the time of their victory. From 2001-2008, 20 of the 32 major winners were ranked inside the top 10 (62.5 percent).

• Six of the past 14 major winners were ranked outside the top 50 in the OWGR. From 1997 to 2008, there were only seven major champions ranked 51st or lower.

Major champ inside OWGR top 10

  Top 10 Outside Top 50
2009-12 2 6
2005-08 10 2
2001-04 10 4
1997-00 6 1
1993-96 7 2
1989-92 8 3

 

• Let's look at the average OWGR position of major winners. For this exercise, we threw out the highest number in that span when calculating the average (so, let's say in the 2001-2004 span, we tossed out Ben Curtis' No. 396, then calculated the number from there). The number you come up with for the past four years is a staggering 43.5. From 2005-2008, that number is just 12.3. In fact, only two major winners in the 2005-2008 sample had a world ranking higher than the 43.5 average from the past four years: Michael Campbellat the 2005 U.S. Open (80th) and Zach Johnson at the 2007 Masters (56th).

• The obvious elephant in the room when doing this exercise is a particular 14-time major champion who has gone major-less during this period of parity. So how does this 2009-2012 span compare with the pre-Tiger years? Once again, the contrast is very stark.

Average OWGR of major winners *

Year Adjusted average
2009-12 43.5
2005-08 12.3
2001-04 27.6
1997-00 13.5
1993-96 19.9
1989-92 17.1
* Highest number in sample removed  

From 1989-1996 (a span of 32 major championships), there were only five major winners ranked outside the OWGR top 50. In the past 14 majors held, there have been six.

 

• There were seven major winners ranked inside the OWGR top 10 from 1993-1996. There were eight from 1989-1992. Amazingly (as referenced above), there have been just two such champions since the 2009 Masters. So who's the pick to win it at Royal Lytham? The numbers say that nowadays, it's anybody's guess.

 

post #34 of 202

Today's pros are much better. to this position......

 

cons (yes they are better, but it's not them, it's because we're modern) equipment, ability to travel with less stress is in play, for sure - you can blame that on modernness and tech - not the athletes,,,,

 

vs

 

pros (yes, modern actually makes them better - no kidding) ...people are stronger, healthier, and the more advanced physical training regimens make them better athletes - but the human body isn't different, just better trained

 

you think it's a 'technology argument' con, but it's really a pro - training techonology (Trackman, better understanding of the physics) - gives modern players better understanding and better training feedback so they improve faster and more correctly

 

 

 

Aside - the entire species is more fit, healthier, and have more access to silly games like golf - that means the entire field is much bigger - that also means the best of the best will also be better

 

 

if you want to do a real compare - go find that video of Rory hitting the balata balls with the old clubs - take a little guy like Rory and tell me he couldn't hop in a time machine and go win a few.  Now take the top physical specimens like Tiger, or Dustin, etc and see how they would do also

 

imagine how exciting it would be if a young Gary Player - who really understood that fitness and attitude truly mattered for even something like golf - could have been given the gifts of modern physical training and modern technology - he'd be super excited

post #35 of 202

Rather than this devolving into another Jack versus Tiger discussion I think it would be more interesting to try to analyze the quality of the fields themselves and the impact technology has had in terms of parity.

post #36 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by jclark View Post


I know the tour didn't start tracking stats until later...but look at the stats now. Today the difference between first and last on tour is usually very tight. This tells me the playing field is very tight. I wonder what those same stats would look like back then. I bet there is a larger disparity between first and last.

 

 

PGA tour stats go back to 1980 for scoring. 

 

The number of players below 71 in 2000 was 76 players, compared to 11 in 1980. Just saying, there is 7 times more players that scored better in 2000 than in 1980. 

 

The number of players below 71 in 1990 was 21 players. 

 

The number of players below 71 in 2013 is 83. 

 

Just showing that as the years gone by the number of players have gotten better. Its slowing down because golf is a fricken hard game and its really hard to decrease the scoring average that low, but more and more players are able to do that. 

 

I ask which is harder to win a tournament, when there are 76 players who can score under 71, or 11? 

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