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Is Phil the 3rd Best Player of All Time?


DeadMan

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(edited)

I get that Jack's many second place finishes are used to try salvaging a losing argument but I think high placement in majors does have some value. If you had two players with 10 major wins apiece but one had no other finishes inside top-50 while the other was top-5 10 times it would be a pretty unmistakeable conclusion to me (assuming other career stats are roughly equal).

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6 hours ago, iacas said:

Hard disagree there @turtleback, because we're NOT looking at who the top ONE player is, we're down the list. We're talking about #3.

So, staying in the top five or top ten in the OWGR begins to matter. To me, anyway.

I agree with this. I also think longevity is totally valid when it comes to this discussion and Phil rolling back the years with this latest win certainly gives him a lot more clout in this ranking discussion.  To be great means to do something unique that “stands the test of time”. Maybe a bit sappy ha

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On 5/30/2021 at 11:09 AM, csh19792001 said:

I see your point and it is well taken.  It’s shocking he was never world number 1 in a 30 year career.
 

That said, it’s quite hard to be at world number 1 when your entire prime is up against a guy who was by far the GOAT and 683 weeks at number one.
 

And 283 consecutive weeks at world number 1. 

Lots of guys not named Tiger have been #1 since 1997.  And it's not just that he was never #1.  Never had the most wins in a season, never won a money title, never won a Vardon, never won a Player of the Year.  While lots of guys have been doing that, since 1997.

15 hours ago, sinik said:

I agree with this. I also think longevity is totally valid when it comes to this discussion and Phil rolling back the years with this latest win certainly gives him a lot more clout in this ranking discussion.  To be great means to do something unique that “stands the test of time”. Maybe a bit sappy ha

No one has argued that he was not great.  He definitely is/was.  The argument is that there are players (other than Jack and Tiger) who were greater.

Edited by turtleback
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30 minutes ago, turtleback said:

No one has argued that he was not great.  He definitely is/was.  The argument is that there are players (other than Jack and Tiger) who were greater.

For enough time… I doubt you'd put Luke Donald's career over Phil's even though Luke did get to #1.

You're spending a lot of time arguing against Phil, but what spot do you have him in, and who do you have above him?

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(edited)
20 minutes ago, iacas said:

For enough time… I doubt you'd put Luke Donald's career over Phil's even though Luke did get to #1.

You're spending a lot of time arguing against Phil, but what spot do you have him in, and who do you have above him?

Oh, stop.  I already answered your silly Luke Donald point.  Repeating it just makes it sillier.  Getting to #1 doesn't make you dominant.  Never getting to #1 means you were never dominant.  Perhaps I was over-optimistic in assuming a general understanding of the difference between necessary and sufficient.

Off the top of my head I have Trevino and Watson and Hogan above him.

Edited by turtleback
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1 hour ago, turtleback said:

Oh, stop. I already answered your silly Luke Donald point. Repeating it just makes it sillier.

You've clearly missed the point of the Luke Donald point to have said something like that. :D

You keep defining "dominance" as only being possible by one person at a time. And I get the logic in that. But others can see a world in which a few players are "dominant," particularly over a 30-year-span.

1 hour ago, turtleback said:

Never getting to #1 means you were never dominant.

No, it doesn't mean that all the time to everyone. It means that to YOU, and you're limiting "dominance" to ONE person. And again I can see the logic in that, and I can see how that matters when you're talking about who is #1.

It matters less to me, and I see less value in SOLO dominance, when you're discussing who #3 was. Or #10.

Let's pretend:

  • Jack had his career.
  • Tiger had his career.
  • Phil just won his 14th major and 81st victory, but never got to #1, never won a Vardon, etc.

Would Phil be the clear #2 in your book then? Jack rarely had dominant years, after all, and yet you still put him as #2.

1 hour ago, turtleback said:

Off the top of my head I have Trevino and Watson and Hogan above him.

Trevino and Watson? Really? I'm on board with Hogan, almost certainly, but Trevino? Watson?

  • Phil: 45 PGA Tour victories, 6 majors, started in 1991.
  • Lee: 29 PGA Tour victories, 6 majors, started in 1960.
  • Tom: 39 PGA Tour victories, 8 majors, started in 1971.

Watson at least has more majors (albeit starting 20 years earlier), but Lee? The same number of majors, less than 2/3 the number of PGA Tour victories…?

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22 hours ago, turtleback said:

No one has argued that he was not great.  He definitely is/was.  The argument is that there are players (other than Jack and Tiger) who were greater.

I didn't say that anyone contended he wasn't great. I'm just defining what I view the definition to be to see who meets the criteria on that sliding scale.

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22 hours ago, iacas said:

You've clearly missed the point of the Luke Donald point to have said something like that. 😄

You keep defining "dominance" as only being possible by one person at a time. And I get the logic in that. But others can see a world in which a few players are "dominant," particularly over a 30-year-span.

No, it doesn't mean that all the time to everyone. It means that to YOU, and you're limiting "dominance" to ONE person. And again I can see the logic in that, and I can see how that matters when you're talking about who is #1.

It matters less to me, and I see less value in SOLO dominance, when you're discussing who #3 was. Or #10.

Let's pretend:

  • Jack had his career.
  • Tiger had his career.
  • Phil just won his 14th major and 81st victory, but never got to #1, never won a Vardon, etc.

Would Phil be the clear #2 in your book then? Jack rarely had dominant years, after all, and yet you still put him as #2.

Trevino and Watson? Really? I'm on board with Hogan, almost certainly, but Trevino? Watson?

  • Phil: 45 PGA Tour victories, 6 majors, started in 1991.
  • Lee: 29 PGA Tour victories, 6 majors, started in 1960.
  • Tom: 39 PGA Tour victories, 8 majors, started in 1971.

Watson at least has more majors (albeit starting 20 years earlier), but Lee? The same number of majors, less than 2/3 the number of PGA Tour victories…?

The odds that someone could win 81 times, including 14 majors without ever being the consensus best player in the world for even a single season is vanishingly small.

As to the rest, you put forth a definition of dominance that makes zero sense to me.

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All this arguing about what is needed to be considered seems a bit unnecessary.

Won’t it do to compare achievements? Being number one in the world is a big deal, but becoming number one during Tiger’s era was impossible, so if that is a requirement, nobody who played in that era would be considered, even if they dominated everyone not named Tiger. It is difficult as it is comparing players from different eras by only using number of wins. Dragging the world ratings into it just makes it more complicated without providing any help.

I agree with Erik that Hogan can be argued, but not Watson and Trevino. And that is how I think the discussion should go. About wins in both regular events and majors, keeping in mind the era it was done. Golf is far more competitive today, so in my book a player winning a major today has made a greater achievement than one who did it 50 years ago.

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31 minutes ago, turtleback said:

The odds that someone could win 81 times, including 14 majors without ever being the consensus best player in the world for even a single season is vanishingly small.

I mean, it's a really simple hypothetical to digest. He's just trying to frame your assessment criteria and go from there so that the two of you can have a conversation 'on even footing'.

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3 minutes ago, turtleback said:

The odds that someone could win 81 times, including 14 majors without ever being the consensus best player in the world for even a single season is vanishingly small.

As to the rest, you put forth a definition of dominance that makes zero sense to me.

Yet, a golfer wins 45 times in with 6 majors, what are the odds you say he wasn't the consensus best player in the world for a single season? 

Also, being #1 is just a flash in the pan moment for most golfers. Over half the golfers who hit World #1 when they started tracking it, held the position for less than 5 weeks. 
image.png

Just for a stupid Tiger Stat... From Wiki, since the table has been last updated (May 30th, 2021), there is a total of 1823 weeks. Tiger was world #1 for 37.5% of that time. The next best is Greg Norman at 18.1%. Then after him is DJ at 7.2%  

It is much easier to be good for 6 months to 12 months than it is to be as consistent as Phil was. How many other athletes get hot for a season, then just regress. Look at Spieth. Was about to break Tiger Wood records for majors won for the age. Guy is struggling a ton. Still a good golfer, but he caught fire and ended up 13th all time in amount of time spent as world #1. 

I still wonder how many weeks Phil would have been world #1 if Tiger wasn't world #1. 

Here is Phil's world ranking from his prime...

Year Rank
1996 7
1997 6
1998 10
1999 9
2000 4 (Tiger #1)
2001 2 (Tiger #1)
2002 2 (Tiger #1)
2003 15 (Tiger #1)
2004 5 (Vijay #1)
2005 3 (Tiger #1)
2006 3 (Tiger #1)
2007 2 (Tiger #1)
2008 3 (Tiger #1)
2009 2 (Tiger #1)
2010 4
2011 14
2012 17
2013 5
2014 14

Over 18 years he finished in the top 5, 11 times. He finished in the top 10 all but 4 times. He was only outside the top 15 once. Come on, he was just stupidly consistent. This is end of the year rankings. If you go into 2010 for example, look at week #26, Tiger was just barely ahead of Phil...


image.png

I think for the most part, Tiger kept Phil out of having a week at #1, and then someone else got hot and ended up pushing him down the rankings. 

To me it was just a strange coincidence. 

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Phil being #3 would put him ahead of Hogan, Nelson, Snead, Palmer, Player, Hagen, Jones, Faldo, Ballesteros, Watson, and a few others I'm sure I'm forgetting. 

Phil has impressive career stats...his longevity is obviously better than Tiger's and maybe anyone's t . His peak value would look much better if he didn't overlap so much with Tiger, since Mr. Woods prevented Phil from ever having a really "dominant" stretch. 

Many players have more major wins, but it's hard to compare these across different eras when the level of competition has changed so much over time. So there really isn't a correct answer, other than the top 2. And I don't know what to do with _really_ old guys (Sarazen, Hagen, etc.) and Bobby Jones, so let's just say they are in a class by themselves. 

My top 10:

1. Tiger Woods

2. Jack Nicklaus (okay these 2 may be swapped depending on my mood that day...)

3. Ben Hogan

4. Tom Watson

5. Arnold Palmer

6. Phil Mickelson

7. Gary Player

8. Nick Faldo

9. Lee Trevino

10. Sam Snead

Honorable Mention: Moe Norman for ballstriking lore; Bernhard Langer for being the most dominant senior player ever, and for being tied for the lead at the Masters on Sunday in his 60s, AND for being a nice guy and winning a ton....

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, Big Lex said:

4. Tom Watson

5. Arnold Palmer

6. Phil Mickelson

  • Watson 39 wins, 8 majors, started in 1971
  • Palmer 62 wins, 7 majors, started in 1955
    • From 1960-1963, Palmer won 29 times including 5 majors
    • He also won a PGA tour event every year from 1955 to 1971
  • Phil 45 wins, 6 majors, started in 1991

IMO the extended stretches of dominance Palmer showed helps make up for the weaker fields and should put him above Watson, and the additional number of wins plus against significantly harder competition should put Phil ahead of Watson.

Why do you think Watson is ahead of Palmer and Phil? 

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8 hours ago, Big Lex said:

Phil being #3 would put him ahead of Hogan, Nelson, Snead, Palmer, Player, Hagen, Jones, Faldo, Ballesteros, Watson, and a few others I'm sure I'm forgetting. 

Did you see this?

IMO Phil is ahead of just about everyone except Ben Hogan's 64/9. Palmer? He started in the 50s.

On 5/28/2021 at 9:51 AM, iacas said:
Name Main Tour/Pro Wins Majors Year Began
Phil Mickelson 45/55 6 1991
Nick Faldo 30/43 6 1976
Sam Snead 82/142^ 7 1936
Ben Hogan 64/69 9 1930
Walter Hagen 45/58 11# 1912
Arnold Palmer 62/95 7 1954
Tom Watson 39/70 8 1971
Lee Trevino 29/92 6 1960
Bobby Jones N/A 13* 1923
Gary Player 24/160! 9 1953
Seve Ballesteros 50/90 5 1974
Ernie Els 28/74 5 1989
Gene Sarazen 38/48 7 1920
Byron Nelson 52/64 5 1932
Billy Casper 51/71 3 1954

^ dubious 
# five of which were at match play (beating one player at a time only)
* includes  amateur events no longer considered majors, many match play majors
! includes 60 Sunshine Tour (South African) wins

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(edited)

@Big Lexbrings up an interesting point in something that I have feared to speak of because it might derail some members more so than my "dominance" statement which was the cause for some vexation.  He gives an honorable mention to Langer, who in his own right, is just in a stud category like no other. So here it is, at what point do we look at the amateur, PGA Tour, and senior career wins as a sign of greatness? So here is a scenario:

If Phil can win one more regular PGA Tour event and then rack up some senior majors going forward, he easily makes my #3. Any takers? 

Edited by TourSpoon
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18 minutes ago, TourSpoon said:

@Big Lexbrings up an interesting point in something that I have feared to speak of because it might derail some members more so than my "dominance" statement which was the cause for some vexation.  He gives an honorable mention to Langer, who in his own right, is just in a stud category like no other. So here it is, at what point do we look at the amateur, PGA Tour, and senior career wins as a sign of greatness? So here is a scenario:

If Phil can win one more regular PGA Tour event and then rack up some senior majors going forward, he easily makes my #3. Any takers? 

I couldn't care much less about Senior wins. I give them virtually no weight.

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5 minutes ago, iacas said:

I couldn't care much less about Senior wins. I give them virtually no weight.

^This

Senior tour is nothing but exhibition matches to me. Might be a harsh take, but I have no interest in it and place no weight in it for determine greatest of all time or any sort of rankings. 

To me it says much more about Langer's PGA tour career that he suddenly becomes more dominant once he competes with less athletic golfers (old age). 

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2 hours ago, iacas said:

Did you see this?

IMO Phil is ahead of just about everyone except Ben Hogan's 64/9. Palmer? He started in the 50s.

I know Phil is ahead of all of them in total career wins. And given his competition, the accomplishments might be even better than the raw numbers indicate. I was speaking about just the total ranking. People have many different criteria for ranking athletes, and place different amounts of weight on different achievements. I was posing the rhetorical question, I guess, of whether people really thought Phil was better than, say, Tom Watson, who won more majors, or Sam Snead, who won alot more tournaments overall, etc. 

For better or worse, people are often overly affected by their emotional attachment to players; some people place emphasis on "intangible," unmeasurable things, like whether a player "chokes," etc. Some people in golf maintain that Phil is a bit of a choker based on his US Open record. Totally unfair in my book, but if someone wants to say that winning all 4 majors trumps other accomplishments, well that's their prerogative. 

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