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Jack vs. Tiger: Who's the Greatest Golfer?


sungho_kr

Greatest Golfer (GOAT)  

214 members have voted

  1. 1. Tiger or Jack: Who's the greatest golfer?

    • Tiger Woods is the man
      1629
    • Jack Nicklaus is my favorite
      817


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33 minutes ago, turtleback said:

'Nuff said.

I went to the first comment 2827. It took me forever and it wasn't your comment.

Either way, I have never made the case for Jack's dominance and I have never said Tiger didn't face deeper fields where more people could randomly beat him on any week. Jack wasn't dominant. Hogan was more dominant. Watson may have been as dominant as Jack. I don't view that as anything.  I view a golf career as one long round of golf. That's how I would evaluate any other profession. The whole body of work is what matters not just the best years.

Jack has 46 top 3's in majors. Tiger only has 38 top 10's.  In fact that is the deciding factor in the debate. I equate 18 and 14 as about the same, maybe even a slight edge to Tiger.  Top finishes count for a lot.  Finishing t-20 is no the same finishing t-2.   Jack's record is so much better overall in majors because he played well for so long.  

Edited by Fidelio
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20 minutes ago, Fidelio said:

The breakdown of the Masters that looks at the Masters makes a useful comparison when adjusting for fields, even if the conclusions that should be drawn aren't quite right. close enough because relative scores are what matter.)   http://www.golfwrx.com/126704/tiger-vs-jack-a-definitive-answer/

The Masters back in Jack's prime isn't the course Tiger played even in 1997.

Jack was quoted in 1997 (I'm paraphrasing, but the announcer mention it during the 1997 broadcast of the Masters), that Augusta is a much tougher test in 1997 than it was back when he was competitive. Jack realized that the course was changed over the years to make it a tougher test. Yet, scores are relatively the same (winning score tends to be in the -10 to -15 range). The reason being that the golfers are better and they are playing a tougher course.

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Augusta has remained relatively unchanged since Jack played it. Minor green alterations have been made, and the golf course has been lengthened, approximately to scale. Golfers of today are hitting roughly the same clubs into every green as they did in Jack’s era (I emphasize the use of the words roughly and approximately).

The course was drastically changed. They took a course from being a driver friendly course and made a driver demanding course. They planted trees much closer to the fairway and introduced a 2nd cut of fairway. Jack played a course that was drastically different.

https://www.golfdigest.com/story/the-complete-changes-to-augusta-national

 

 

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35 minutes ago, Fidelio said:

Gee. Thanks for that great explanation. Very helpful comment. I didn't know. That adds a lot to the discussion.  The breakdown of the Masters that looks at the Masters makes a useful comparison when adjusting for fields, even if the conclusions that should be drawn aren't quite right. close enough because relative scores are what matter.)   http://www.golfwrx.com/126704/tiger-vs-jack-a-definitive-answer/

I don't know why you like citing that article.

Quote

Augusta has remained relatively unchanged since Jack played it.

I'd quibble with that, but there's no point. The greens are faster. They mow differently. There are more trees. There's rough now. The course is longer. Jack Nicklaus agrees, and I'll quote @saevel25 on that one:

3 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

Jack was quoted in 1997 (I'm paraphrasing, but the announcer mention it during the 1997 broadcast of the Masters), that Augusta is a much tougher test in 1997 than it was back when he was competitive. Jack realized that the course was changed over the years to make it a tougher test. Yet, scores are relatively the same (winning score tends to be in the -10 to -15 range). The reason being that the golfers are better and they are playing a tougher course.

Moving on… from the article:

Quote

To me, it shows that the competition during today’s era is tougher than when Jack played. That statement is substantiated by the fact that the winning score, second-place score, 10th-place score and last-place score are all significantly lower today than in Jack’s era (anything over a full stroke IS significant).

Exactly what everyone else has said: the fields are stronger/deeper.

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If Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus played at Augusta, in the Masters, in the same year, under the same conditions, against the same competition, and you gambled based purely on statistics, you’d pick Tiger Woods as your winner, and Jack Nicklaus to finish second.

Summary: Tiger is better.

So again, why do you keep citing that article? Because it says Jack is more consistent? So what? A bunch of us have said that. He was more consistently "very good" but not necessarily "great" for a long time. Be "very good" against weaker/shallower fields for 25 years and you'll rack up a lot of wins.

15 minutes ago, Fidelio said:

I went to the first comment 2827. It took me forever and it wasn't your comment.

Uhhhh, the post right after it (by me) directly links to all of them.

So what that it wasn't his comment?

15 minutes ago, Fidelio said:

Either way, I have never made the case for Jack's dominance and I have never said Tiger didn't face deeper fields where more people could randomly beat him on any week. Jack wasn't dominant. Hogan was more dominant. Watson may have been as dominant as Jack. I don't view that as anything.  I view a golf career as one long round of golf. That's how I would evaluate any other profession. The whole body of work is what matters not just the best years.

And…

On 4/8/2018 at 1:10 PM, iacas said:
  • 14x > 18y
  • 79x >>> 72y
  • Everything Else* Tiger >> Everything Else Jack
  • Tiger's Dominance > Jack's Dominance

If I had to sum up my criteria, that right there would probably be it.

* POY, Vardon, "complete game," etc.

That's "viewing a whole career."

15 minutes ago, Fidelio said:

Jack has 46 top 3's in majors.

We understand that you value top 3s. I do not. Not winning doesn't account for much in my book. Particularly, again, given how much easier it was to get a top 3 or a top 10 against a bunch of lesser golfers.

15 minutes ago, Fidelio said:

In fact that is the deciding factor in the debate.

:hmm:

Sez you. Cripes, man, you don't get to tell others how to evaluate things. I couldn't care less about a third-place finish.

15 minutes ago, Fidelio said:

I equate 18 and 14 as about the same, maybe even a slight edge to Tiger.  Top finishes count for a lot.  Finishing t-20 is no the same finishing t-2.

And what about 79 > 72?

If you equate 14x ~= 18y, then that implies that you're giving Tiger about a 29% bonus. Apply the same bonus to PGA Tour wins and you get 102 victories. Apply the same bonus to his top-3 finishes in majors and you get closer to level.

Again, cool that you've decided top threes in majors matter. I couldn't care less about a third-place finish. I don't weight it at all.

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18 is > 14

Won first major at 22, last at 46.  24-year reign. 46 top 3's.

You can throw as many words at it as you want, but those numbers are better than Tiger's.

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11 minutes ago, 3jacker said:

18 is > 14

Won first major at 22, last at 46.  24-year reign. 46 top 3's.

You can throw as many words at it as you want, but those numbers are better than Tiger's.

:doh:

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11 minutes ago, 3jacker said:

You can throw as many words at it as you want, but those numbers are better than Tiger's.

Greater, but not better. Quality over Quantity.

What car collection would you have, 18 Toyota Camry's or 14 Ferraris?

 

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12 minutes ago, 3jacker said:

18 is > 14

Won first major at 22, last at 46.  24-year reign. 46 top 3's.

You can throw as many words at it as you want, but those numbers are better than Tiger's.

 

And they will continue to be better than anyone else. Jack was incredible but he DID benefit from weaker fields. Nobody in Tiger's time, Rory/Jordan's time, or in the future will have this advantage. So how is that a fair comparison?

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9 minutes ago, Dr. Manhattan said:

 

And they will continue to be better than anyone else. Jack was incredible but he DID benefit from weaker fields. Nobody in Tiger's time, Rory/Jordan's time, or in the future will have this advantage. So how is that a fair comparison?

The only problem I have with the "quality of field" argument is I don't think the guys Tiger played were that good his first 5-10 years. I know this has been argued here before, but I saw both eras. The depth I get, because there was so much money out there, more good players went pro and out on tour then in Jack's day. But I don't think there was more quality at the top in Tiger's early years. I just don't. I think the guys Tiger probably inspired (the 20 somethings) are phenomenal. With them, I get the whole depth AND quality argument. 

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1 minute ago, GrandStranded said:

The only problem I have with the "quality of field" argument is I don't think the guys Tiger played were that good his first 5-10 years. I know this has been argued here before, but I saw both eras. The depth I get, because there was so much money out there, more good players went pro and out on tour then in Jack's day. But I don't think there was more quality at the top in Tiger's early years. I just don't. I think the guys Tiger probably inspired (the 20 somethings) are phenomenal. With them, I get the whole depth AND quality argument. 

As has been pointed out repeatedly, even Nicklaus disagrees with you.

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Just now, iacas said:

As has been pointed out repeatedly, even Nicklaus disagrees with you.

I like to think Jack is being overly modest, and he should listen to me.

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2 minutes ago, GrandStranded said:

The only problem I have with the "quality of field" argument is I don't think the guys Tiger played were that good his first 5-10 years. I know this has been argued here before, but I saw both eras. The depth I get, because there was so much money out there, more good players went pro and out on tour then in Jack's day. But I don't think there was more quality at the top in Tiger's early years. I just don't. I think the guys Tiger probably inspired (the 20 somethings) are phenomenal. With them, I get the whole depth AND quality argument. 

 

Depth is a huge deal. Tiger finished 2nd to a guy at the 2005 U.S. Open who only qualified for the event because of an international qualifying tournament that didn’t exist until the 2000’s. 

The point stands that Nicklaus and many others agreed in the early to mid 1990’s that his records were untouchable due to the increased depth in pro golf. It’s only going to become more difficult as time goes by. 

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12 minutes ago, Dr. Manhattan said:

 

Depth is a huge deal. Tiger finished 2nd to a guy at the 2005 U.S. Open who only qualified for the event because of an international qualifying tournament that didn’t exist until the 2000’s. 

The point stands that Nicklaus and many others agreed in the early to mid 1990’s that his records were untouchable due to the increased depth in pro golf. It’s only going to become more difficult as time goes by. 

I'm not sure about this, but maybe we are both confusing "depth" and "Quality depth". If your definition of depth in that era is that any of those guys had almost as good a chance to win as Tiger (who absolutely was great), I'd disagree. The only smart bet back then if you went against Tiger was "take the field". None of those guys (except Ernie) had the stomach to beat him. With Jack (also absolutely great) you had Arnie, Player, Casper, Watson, Trevino, Miller, and more. 

Edited by GrandStranded
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Since I'm feeling feisty today another argument I don't get in this thread is the "athletes in every sport are better, so why not the Golfers?" One of the comparisons argued was Jesse Owens and Usian(?) Bolt. But golf is different then a lot of sports. I get the athleticism needed to compete at the tour level. But if you take 2 five year old identical twins, and trained one every day with top level instruction for 15 years, unless he was born fast or with the proper body type, he's never going to become a world class sprinter or miler. But if you took his twin, and trained him to play golf the same way, he'd have a much greater chance to be a world class golfer.

Edited by GrandStranded
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34 minutes ago, iacas said:

As has been pointed out repeatedly, even Nicklaus disagrees with you.

Nicklaus is correct. But Nicklaus also says the top players in his era were better (which I don't agree with).  That Tom Watson's was better in the stretch that he competed against Nicklaus than Phil, Vijay, or Ernie against Tiger.

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My point is, golf skills are teachable, to the extent that the difference in two individuals born 20 years apart are not that great. Both can only learn so much. If they are both gifted, the difference between them should be next to nothing. The only differentiating factor would be the improved equipment the younger one would have available to him.

8 minutes ago, Fidelio said:

Nicklaus is correct. But Nicklaus also says the top players in his era were better (which I don't agree with).  That Tom Watson's was better in the stretch that he competed against Nicklaus than Phil, Vijay, or Ernie against Tiger.

I would take Tom Watson in his prime over Vijay any day of the week.

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1 hour ago, iacas said:

Sez you. Cripes, man, you don't get to tell others how to evaluate things. I couldn't care less about a third-place finish.

 

Yes. It is my opinion. I didn't say it has to be anyone else's view. I just think it is the most reasonable view.  I don't see why you think your opinion is worth more.

I noticed you pointed out the opinions of others are factually wrong on opinion issues that are settled by most people. I agreed with you every time you did it because people who argue for Jack make some very bad arguments. But I'll turn it on its head. You said Tiger is a better driver than Jack. That is just "factually" wrong. There is nothing to support that view. There was a survey of  the top 100 teachers that said Jack was number 2 behind Norman. The stats back up the view that Jack was far superior. But you are so unreasonable you won't even concede even the most obvious things Jack is superior on. No reasonable person thinks Tiger is in the same ballpark off the tee. Jack was longer (if you adjust for equipment using the driver stats of people like Fred Couple who played at the same time as Jack and still plays today) and straighter.

And btw, where are those quotes from Jack saying Tiger was a better driver and iron player? You said you interviewed him. You said Jack made those statements.  Please point to that publication with those quotes. That is quite a scoop. It contradicts every other public statement. I am very interested to see them. I'm sure you have got them handy.

Edited by Fidelio
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The depth of field argument is subjective.  The data used to support either side of the argument is manipulated to suit the position of the debater using it.  It comes down to comparing two different people playing at different times against many different other people with different equipment.  You can go round and round and round but you can't definitively prove either way.

BTW, Jack won the same 4 majors that Tiger did, so it's Ferraris to Ferraris bro.

A 3rd place finish is better than all but 2 others who played.  It speaks to how much "better" they performed than everyone else.  Jack was better more. He also won more.

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32 minutes ago, GrandStranded said:

The only problem I have with the "quality of field" argument is I don't think the guys Tiger played were that good his first 5-10 years.

You mean guys like Phil, Ernie, Clarke, Cink, Cabrera, Zach Johnson, and Sergio?  They were all pros in the 90's, and they have all won majors in the last ten years, beating your 20-something phenoms. They were that good.  Tiger was just better.

37 minutes ago, GrandStranded said:

I know this has been argued here before, but I saw both eras.

No, you really didn't.  I know what you mean, I started watching golf in the 50's, but watching golf then was not the same as watching golf now.

Today, you see every shot Tiger hits, and almost every shot the other big names hit.  You see all their bad drives, flubbed chips, and wayward irons. 

When you and I were watching golf in the 60's, you got maybe two hours on Saturday and three hours on Sunday.  With very few exceptions, you only saw the guys who were playing well, and you only saw their good shots, and you didn't get 24 hours of Chamblee telling you what was wrong with their swings afterward.  So it was easy to think that Jack's opponents were machines, and that they never missed a shot, while the guys Tiger played hit lots of bad shots.

But ask guys who PLAYED in both eras, including Jack himself, and they know better.  Jack famously wrote in 1996 that the middle of the pack on tour at that time was as good as the top golfers of his era.  He had no reason to say that if it wasn't true.

 

19 minutes ago, GrandStranded said:

Since I'm feeling feisty today another argument I don't get in this thread is the "athletes in every sport are better, so why not the Golfers?" One of the comparisons argued was Jesse Owens and Usian(?) Bolt. But golf is different then a lot of sports. I get the athleticism needed to compete at the tour level. But if you take 2 five year old identical twins, and trained one every day with top level instruction for 15 years, unless he was born fast or with the proper body type, he's never going to become a world class sprinter or miler. But if you took his twin, and trained him to play golf the same way, he'd have a much greater chance to be a world class golfer.

But that's exactly why it's so much harder to win today.   Only one golfer in a hundred is going to find his optimal swing if he has to spend years "digging it out of the dirt" like Hogan did.  But today, players have not only better teaching, but all kinds of tech to tell them their launch angle, spin rate, apex height, etc. every time they make a tweak.  So now instead of one Hogan who owns his swing, you have dozens.

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