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


sungho_kr

Greatest Golfer (GOAT)  

216 members have voted

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

    • Tiger Woods is the man
      1629
    • Jack Nicklaus is my favorite
      816


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5 hours ago, Fidelio said:

But my whole argument kind of hinges on how the next 10 went. A  career is a marathon.

A career is however long it is. In Tiger's career, even though it's not over, he:

  • won more on the PGA Tour.
  • won more on the European Tour.
  • won more dominantly.
  • had more multi-major years.
  • had more years with 3+ PGA Tour wins.
  • won more scoring titles.
  • won more player of the year trophies.
  • won more WGCs. ;-)

And he did it all against stiffer competition. Again, the only thing he didn't do is win more majors, but he did win 14 against significantly stiffer competition than ol' Jack.

Jack was good (against weaker competition) for a long time. He was nowhere near as dominant as Tiger was against stiffer competition.

Penalizing a guy for being a better player in a day and age when careers are significantly shorter (due in part to how much higher a level the competition is now) is just a fancy way of saying "I like Jack and so I'm going to invent reasons to justify my choice."

Almost all of Tiger's career numbers are better against stiffer competition.

5 hours ago, Fidelio said:

Not to mention Tiger was shooting 85s and topping the ball while Jack's bad tournaments were like 5th place finishes.

Oh brother. That doesn't even justify a response. Jack had plenty of bad rounds.

5 hours ago, Fidelio said:

The next 10 is where the tortoise overtakes the hare.

So when is Jack going to overtake Tiger on any of the bullet points above? Including, for example, most PGA Tour wins, where Tiger leads by seven?

5 hours ago, Fidelio said:

Tiger was much better in his prime.

So he's the greatest player of all time.

5 hours ago, Fidelio said:

He had six years better than Jack's best year. Maybe. Not 12.

That's not what I said. Tiger's ten best years, or eleven or twelve, all beat Jack's best 10 to 12, if lined up and played in match play against each other. Jack loses that match before he even wins a hole.

5 hours ago, Fidelio said:

If you want to argue that 1972 is the only one that makes the top 10 between the two, I could see that. But he clearly didn't have 10 or 12 years better than 1972.

So even if you misunderstand what I was saying, you're willing to concede that the top ten seasons between the two of them are 9 of Tiger's seasons and 1 of Jack's? 😛

3 hours ago, Pretzel said:

You could've stopped right here. You literally just admitted that Tiger Woods was a better golfer than Jack Nicklaus. What else is left to debate? It's almost like you understand who the better golfer was, but can't bear to actually write it down.

Seriously. That's a valid answer to the question.

But he wants to twist things to try to justify sticking by Jack. Must be our U.S. educations… :-P

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7 hours ago, brocks said:

I haven't seen the post you're disputing, but I think he probably means you take Tiger's best year against Jack's best year, Tiger wins.  You take Tiger's second best against Jack's second best, Tiger wins.  On down till Jack's 12th best year is finally better than Tiger's 12th best.  Not that Tiger's 12th best is better than Jack's best.

Exactly.  I've only spelled this challenge out at least a dozen times in this thread but no one ever takes me up.

But it is interesting to think about how many years Tiger had that were better than Jack's best year.

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6 hours ago, Pretzel said:

You could've stopped right here. You literally just admitted that Tiger Woods was a better golfer than Jack Nicklaus. What else is left to debate? It's almost like you understand who the better golfer was, but can't bear to actually write it down.

 

I think from my very first post on I have said Tiger is the better player and have not remotely hinted otherwise. I also think Bo Jackson is the best running back of all time.  Bo does not make my top 10 greatest running backs for what should be obvious reasons.

Quote

You and I both know that circumstances beyond a golfer's control, such as shattered legs and a seriously messed up back, are a factor to consider when it comes to career longevity. Incidentally, you keep talking about Tiger Woods like his career is over despite the fact that he's had 3 top 5's this season already, his first season back from yet another back injury. 

 Only judging up to this point. Tiger could pass Jack in my mind. Kenny Perry won 11 times after 40. If Tiger got to 90 wins with another major or 2, I think that would be pretty compelling. I probably would flip my opinion.

As far as Tiger's injuries, that is a tough one.  I don't know how to count that. Having read Hank Haney's book it would seem that Tiger is largely responsible for his health problems because of poor life decisions (the Navy Seal stuff, the overly intense workouts.) He also changed his swing a number of times, which I think has the potential to put undue stress on his body. My instinct is that he is a golfer who is more beat up than most NFL running backs. Something doesn't seem right there. But I don't know. It could just be bad luck.  So I don't use the injuries to help or hurt him other than to discount the percentage of wins stats.

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3 hours ago, iacas said:

Penalizing a guy for being a better player in a day and age when careers are significantly shorter (due in part to how much higher a level the competition is now)

 

Most elite golfers even in previous eras had relatively short careers. That isn't a new thing.  Arnold, Watson, Seve, etc

What made Jack "Jack" is that he was still playing pretty well in his early 40s. Jack's ball striking stats from 40 to 46 are amazing. He still was in the top 5 in GIR almost every year. He drove the ball great.

 

Quote

is just a fancy way of saying "I like Jack and so I'm going to invent reasons to justify my choice."

That literally has zero to do with my interest on the topic. Zero point zero. Usually my automatic view is top current players are better than previous generations in almost every sport. That is what makes this topic interesting to me.  I saw the major stat for Jack (18,19,9) and Googled to see if other people saw that obviously dominating stat and came to this thread. The truthful answer I like reading about successful people. Overall, I am kind of indifferent to both Jack and Tiger. I don't have a strong like of dislike of either.  I put them in the same category as Jack Welch or Warren Buffett. Just  interesting people to read about.

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1 hour ago, Fidelio said:

Overall, I am kind of indifferent to both Jack and Tiger. 

You have an odd way of showing that. It’s quite the opposite when you repeatedly disregard the information that clearly supports Tiger as the GOAT. I have always liked and admired both of them and once figured Jack edged Tiger for GOAT. However after all the information I’ve learned here from @iacas, @turtleback, @brocks, and many others I easily list Tiger as the GOAT.

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39 minutes ago, Vinsk said:

You have an odd way of showing that. It’s quite the opposite when you repeatedly disregard the information that clearly supports Tiger as the GOAT. I have always liked and admired both of them and once figured Jack edged Tiger for GOAT. However after all the information I’ve learned here from @iacas, @turtleback, @brocks, and many others I easily list Tiger as the GOAT.

What information or arguments have I ignored? Seriously. Give an example. I think it is completely the opposite I think posts like your's  are very condescending.

The reasonable arguments that I do disagree with are value judgments. For example, I don't give a whole lot of weight to regular events. That is a difference in values that won't be settled. That can't be settled with debating facts. Truthfully, I have watched maybe 5 regular tour events on TV in 15 years. I don't care about them in the same way I couldn't tell you have many on Grand Slams Roger Federer has won.

Or the dominance thing. I give no weight to dominance. I don't care even a little bit about it.  That's a value judgment I have. What I do find amusing is the inconsistency of putting Phil ahead of Watson and Tiger ahead of Jack. Watson was clearly better in his prime than Phil in his prime. He dominated. He won six POYs.  But he also stopped winning at young age. Wheres the argument for Phil is he was second 11 times in majors and had a better total body of work because of his longevity. The consistent arguments (ignoring Hogan) would either be 1. Tiger 2. Jack 3. Watson 4. Phil  or 1. Jack 2. Tiger 3. Phil 4. Watson

Edited by Fidelio
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2 hours ago, Fidelio said:

I think from my very first post on I have said Tiger is the better player and have not remotely hinted otherwise.

 Only judging up to this point. Tiger could pass Jack in my mind.

So Tiger is both the better player and not the better player?

The topic isn’t who has more gold stars (wins, 2nd places, 3rd places, etc) next to their name in their career.

Theres two different questions being answered here. Who’s the better golfer and who has had a better career? This topic is more the first question, I believe. 

Yes, you use part of a career to define who is better. But its more of, when these two greats dominated the game, who did it better? The answer is clearly Tiger.

Edited by phillyk
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1 hour ago, Fidelio said:

I don't give a whole lot of weight to regular events. 

First, condescending? Not sure where you got that. I’m merely pointing out inconsistencies with your arguments. Second, the very reason you don’t ‘give a lot of weight to regular events’ is the very reason Jack’s wins aren’t as impressive as Tiger’s. Many of Jack’s early wins were nothing more than regular events. As we’ve mentioned, many top American players didn’t even bother to play in The Open. You’re doing just like Jack did. Once he realized he wasn’t going to win the most PGA Tour events, he declared Majors to be the criteria of importance. I believe the main argument you haven’t countered well is the strength/depth of field that Tiger faced. Not only did he win more than Jack but he dominated despite the fact you feel is irrelevant. It’s been shown quite clearly the only stat Jack has over Tiger is 4 more majors and I think more runner ups...but again those stats come from a weaker field.

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I am not doubting Tiger is great but I am willing to say Jack did not the equipment and and all the medical help as Tiger had 

Being an ex coach for 20 plus years I have never seen someone come back with so many injuries without golng without major medical help and also being 42 years old seem close to a miracle..

i think his chances are very unlikely for him to break Jack record with chances of recurring injuries!  Tiger is living on the the edge.  You can take that you the way you want to.

 

I know at less 10 young player plus those that sneak in who play better than Tigers. These player are not discriminate by playing with him and enjoy the  completion not like in old days. Where they were beaten on the first tee..   Tiger has not been there yet and we don’t how Tiger can handle it. My personal option Tiger still has a lot of as you might say Skelton’s in his closet .

Anyway nice exchanging comments.

 

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1 hour ago, Vinsk said:

As we’ve mentioned, many top American players didn’t even bother to play in The Open

This is what really swayed my opinion thanks to @turtleback. It's different and more relevant than the depth of field argument, IMO.

If the best players in the World were competing against Jack in all of his 18 major wins, the discussion would be different - regardless of the skill level during that era. But because they were not, the wins don't have the same value as those accumulated in an era when nearly all the best in the World competed for major wins.

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2 hours ago, Fidelio said:

What information or arguments have I ignored? Seriously. Give an example. I think it is completely the opposite I think posts like your's  are very condescending.

The reasonable arguments that I do disagree with are value judgments. For example, I don't give a whole lot of weight to regular events. That is a difference in values that won't be settled. That can't be settled with debating facts.

Then that's a perfect example of arguments you are ignoring.  It is not a value judgement that regular PGA events today, and arguably in Jack's day, had stronger fields than many of the majors that Arnie, Jack, and Gary won.  It is a pure fact.

Bob Sweeney, a 48-year-old amateur, shot 78-73 and missed the cut in the 1959 British Open, but he gets the medal for the best performance by an American in the event.  The other two Americans in the field were 53-year-old  Willie Goggin, who was actually pretty good in his day, finishing second in the 1933 PGA Championship, and Robert Watson, a New York club pro.  In other words, zero PGA touring pros were in the field.  Gary Player won his first major that week, two shots ahead of superstars Fred Bullock and Flory Van Donck, and he didn't even have to hold them off.  He finished two hours ahead of them with a double bogey on the last hole, and told reporters that he had blown it.  But Bullock and Van Donck both shot their worst rounds of the week and then bogeyed the last hole, giving Van Donck a 73 and Bullock a 74, and giving the Claret Jug to Gary Player. 

It is not a value judgement to call a tournament with no Americans, and less than a dozen other players from anywhere other than northern Europe or the British Isles, a weak event.  It's a fact.

Things improved dramatically in 1960, when there were two American touring pros in the field, namely Arnie, and Utah journeyman Bill Johnston.  Rounding out the total American contingent of four were Jack Isaacs, a 52-year-old club pro, and the Squire himself, 58-year old Gene Sarazen.  Sarazen told reporters that he hoped he didn't make the cut, because he didn't want to play 36 holes in one day (like the US Open of that era, they played the last two rounds the same day).  No worries --- he shot an 83 the first day and withdrew.

Arnie won his first Open in 1961, with five other Americans (including amateurs and seniors) in the field.  Jack won his first in 1966, when Doug Sanders famously blew a two-footer to tie, against a total of 8 other Americans.  There were always less than a dozen Americans, including amateurs and seniors, until 1969, when there were 13.   The fact that Arnie, Gary, and Jack each won two Opens in that decade (actually Jack won his second in 1970) went a long way toward making them the "Big Three." 

Even a modern John Deere would be tougher to win than a 60's Open, but Tiger didn't play the John Deere.  With few exceptions, mostly contractual obligations like the Buick Open, his list of wins comprises the toughest PGA events --- Bay Hill, Quail Hollow, the Memorial,  the WGCs, and other very strong events.

It's just a fact that until the late 70's, very few players played four majors a year.  Most Americans skipped the Open, and most international players skipped the other three.  That's why from 1926 to 1979, more than 50 years, only three non-Americans won any major other than the British Open, and during the same period, only three Americans who aren't on everybody's top dozen all time list won the Open (Denny Shute, Tony Lema, Tom Weiskopf).  Today, half the world top 10 (and 12 of the world top 20) golfers are non-Americans, so unless something magical happened to the talent pools in the last few decades, that means that about half or more of the world's best golfers were missing from the majors played before 1980.

Probably more than half in the case of the Masters (which had a half-size field to begin with)  and the PGA (which had about 50 touring pros and 100 club pros in the field).

If you're objective, it's not a value judgement that Tiger's wins in the WGCs, Bay Hill, the Memorial, etc. were stronger than the Big Three's wins in the British Open and PGA, at least.  It's a fact.

 

2 hours ago, Fidelio said:

Or the dominance thing. I give no weight to dominance. I don't care even a little bit about it.  That's a value judgment I have. What I do find amusing is the inconsistency of putting Phil ahead of Watson and Tiger ahead of Jack. Watson was clearly better in his prime than Phil in his prime. He dominated. He won six POYs.  But he also stopped winning at young age. Wheres the argument for Phil is he was second 11 times in majors and had a better total body of work because of his longevity. The consistent arguments (ignoring Hogan) would either be 1. Tiger 2. Jack 3. Watson 4. Phil  or 1. Jack 2. Tiger 3. Phil 4. Watson 

I agree with you about Phil vs Watson, but I literally can't understand how you don't care about dominance.  Not your first criterion? Fine, although I disagree.  But don't care even a little bit??? That's just crazy talk.

How else can you compare players of different eras?  It's ridiculous to compare wins straight across.  Even if I didn't convince you that the Opens of the 1960's had weak fields, what about the Opens of the 1860's, when they had as few as 8 players in the field?  Are you really going to say that a major is a major, and Tiger's wins at the Memorial aren't as impressive as Old Tom beating 7 other local club pros in the Open?  Are you really going to say that Padraig Harrington somehow winning three majors in two years, and doing not much else, puts him on a par with Jack, who never won more than three majors in two years?

Or just restrict it to one player in one major.  Are you really going to say that backing into a major by one shot is as good as winning wire to wire by 15 shots?  Or that a player who set scoring records, streak records, and margin of victory records shouldn't rank higher than one who just plodded to victory in the same number of events?

If so, please explain why.

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50 minutes ago, brocks said:

Then that's a perfect example of arguments you are ignoring.  It is not a value judgement that regular PGA events today, and arguably in Jack's day, had stronger fields than many of the majors that Arnie, Jack, and Gary won.  It is a pure fact.

 

Okay. Agreed.

Here is the quote you responded to "For example, I don't give a whole lot of weight to regular events."  I am having trouble seeing how your response is even remotely connected to anything I have ever said. I can rephrase it. "Majors are the yardstick that I use to measure greatness, and I give little weight to winning the BC Open or Colonial."

Quote

How else can you compare players of different eras?  It's ridiculous to compare wins straight across. 

Dominance only reflects how a person did for a period of time. Dwight Gooden was dominant. Dwight Gooden did not have a great career. John Smoltz was never dominant. John Smoltz had a HOF career. I measure greatness as the entire body of work

The other problem is making a guesstimate on level of competition. Old Tom Morris was dominant.  I feel like the competition was not sufficient to make the claim that he is an all time great.

I think career numbers taking into consideration level of competition is the best yardstick.

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10 minutes ago, Fidelio said:

Dominance only reflects how a person did for a period of time. Dwight Gooden was dominant. Dwight Gooden did not have a great career. John Smoltz was never dominant. John Smoltz had a HOF career. I measure greatness as the entire body of work

I haven't followed baseball for about 50 years, but FWIW, I've heard of Dwight Gooden, and I've never heard of John Smoltz.  So there's that.

And obviously dominance alone is not enough.  It depends not only on how dominant you were, but over whom, and for how long.  Tiger wins in all three cases -- he was more dominant than Jack, for longer, over stronger fields.   Jack did have a longer stretch where he was maybe a top ten golfer, but not as long where he was dominant.  In years past, I've analyzed Jack's career in detail and found that he was the hands down best golfer in the world for only five years scattered among his 25 winning years on tour.

As for your not being able to understand why Tiger's regular wins should matter if you don't dispute that they had stronger fields than many, if not most, of Jack's majors, I guess I've done the best I can, and will admit defeat.

Maybe I should do something like @turtleback did for seasons, and stack Tiger's strongest win against Jack's, his second strongest against Jack's second strongest, etc.  I would bet that if I did, Jack would lose all 73.

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1 hour ago, JonMA1 said:

This is what really swayed my opinion thanks to @turtleback. It's different and more relevant than the depth of field argument, IMO.

If the best players in the World were competing against Jack in all of his 18 major wins, the discussion would be different - regardless of the skill level during that era. But because they were not, the wins don't have the same value as those accumulated in an era when nearly all the best in the World competed for major wins.

This is why I don't feel it necessary to make the very valid strength of field argument a big part of my case.  Even if we stipulate, solely for the sake of argument since we know it isn't true, that the universe of tournament players was just as good in Jack's day, the fact is that substantially all the best players in the world rarely appeared together at any major.  It just didn't happen.  Whereas in Tiger's case, not only were all of his majors won against fields containing substantially all of the to 50 players in the world, his 20 WGCs and 2 Players' championships were as well.

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2 hours ago, Fidelio said:

Here is the quote you responded to "For example, I don't give a whole lot of weight to regular events."  I am having trouble seeing how your response is even remotely connected to anything I have ever said. I can rephrase it. "Majors are the yardstick that I use to measure greatness, and I give little weight to winning the BC Open or Colonial."

Tiger has won dozens of events that were tougher to win than virtually all of Jack's majors.

That's why it's relevant.

You can give very little weight to the BC Open all you want (Tiger hasn't won that one I don't think), but the BC Open probably had a stronger and deeper field in its later days than several of the majors in which Jack played.

2 hours ago, Fidelio said:

Dominance only reflects how a person did for a period of time. Dwight Gooden was dominant. Dwight Gooden did not have a great career. John Smoltz was never dominant. John Smoltz had a HOF career. I measure greatness as the entire body of work

Tiger was dominant for a dozen or so years. That's not a short burst of dominance. It's not Paul Goydos shooting 59. It's year after year after year. #1 in the OWGR for, what, 683 weeks or something like that? That's a long time to be dominant.

Dwight Gooden was no Tiger Woods.

2 hours ago, Fidelio said:

The other problem is making a guesstimate on level of competition. Old Tom Morris was dominant.  I feel like the competition was not sufficient to make the claim that he is an all time great.

Uhhh, see, this is where you get yourself in trouble. This is where you contradict yourself. You don't consider Old Tom Morris's accomplishments, but you discard Tiger's WGCs and other wins, almost all of which were against stiffer fields (in both ways) than any of Jack's major wins.

2 hours ago, Fidelio said:

I think career numbers taking into consideration level of competition is the best yardstick.

And all of Jack's career numbers fall short of Tiger's except majors.

Majors that were, once again, played against weaker fields than the vast majority of Tiger's 79 PGA Tour wins.

1 hour ago, turtleback said:

This is why I don't feel it necessary to make the very valid strength of field argument a big part of my case.  Even if we stipulate, solely for the sake of argument since we know it isn't true, that the universe of tournament players was just as good in Jack's day, the fact is that substantially all the best players in the world rarely appeared together at any major.  It just didn't happen.  Whereas in Tiger's case, not only were all of his majors won against fields containing substantially all of the to 50 players in the world, his 20 WGCs and 2 Players' championships were as well.

Yep.

1 hour ago, brocks said:

Maybe I should do something like @turtleback did for seasons, and stack Tiger's strongest win against Jack's, his second strongest against Jack's second strongest, etc.  I would bet that if I did, Jack would lose all 73.

Undoubtedly he would.

I'm not even sure Jack's strongest field win (you'd think the 1986 Masters, but those were also pretty limited field events, and always have been) might not rank higher than 50th against Tiger's wins.

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Tiger won a major from a guy named

Roco not one of the top player and another in the Masters from a guy named Chris not one of the top players. 

Plus asking has he ever won  a major when he was behind on the final day?

So I vote goes to Jack.

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27 minutes ago, Gerald Ladig said:

Tiger won a major from a guy named

Roco not one of the top player and another in the Masters from a guy named Chris not one of the top players. 

Plus asking has he ever won  a major when he was behind on the final day?

So I vote goes to Jack.

Well, Tiger just got lucky that in 2008 Rocco was the only other guy allowed to play in the US Open.  And similarly with that Chris fellow and the Masters.

Plus, no one has ever blown a 2 foot putt to hand Tiger a major, like Doug Sanders did for Jack.

Gee, picking out random facts and making believe they support our side is fun.  No wonder the media does it so much.🍎🍌

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