That is exactly the part that you take as fact and I am stating is an opinion that cannot be proven. I know that many people believe it , I know that many call it heresy that I call it an opinion. Of course you can argue that more players means more hurdles to pass, or more guys that might get a hot hand and shoot a 62. But if you took the top 20% of the players from every tournament --you see the same names 80% of the time. The vast majority of the time the winners are winning by beating a small field and it's the middle getting stretched out-not the top. Not always-but the vast majority of the time.
I think for many people, praising todays field is just another way of praising Tiger. The very thread-" isn't todays 17 better than yesteryears 20?"-doesn't that really mean" isn't todays 14 better than yesteryears 18?"
and I will say it one last time- it's america -you are free to believe what you like- but for me- being someone who is well versed in statistics and experimental methods- all of the arguments that I've seen here to 'prove' the point-fall short of being proofs-they remain opinions.
Taking a modern player from the middle-who I admire-no insult intended- a Ricky Barnes for example-according to most of what I've read here-he's better than Arnold Palmer . He's competed against such 'deep' fields. I don't buy it.
You must have a helluva big boat to catch all of the red herrings you are putting up and then refuting, rather than interacting with what people are ACTUALLY saying.
Everything short of a mathematical proof is "opinion". But not all opinions are equal. Some have evidence supporting them and some do not.