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


sungho_kr

Greatest Golfer (GOAT)  

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

    • Tiger Woods is the man
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    • Jack Nicklaus is my favorite
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1 minute ago, BillBuckeye said:

If you are comparing their stats, keep in mind the the clubs and balls they were using very different. Jack was using woods made of wood. You can’t fairly compare their driving stats because the equipment of today is so much different than the 60’s and 70’s when Jack was in his prime. I think you’re selling Jack short, he was every bit as good as Tiger was in his prime. Remember, Jack won 18 majors and 2nd place 15 times, he could handle the pressure situations. 

Sigh.... I know you’ve joined late and this thread is exhausting, but all your points have been argued and clearly dismantled throughout the thread.

2 minutes ago, Fidelio said:

That's right. I go with the evidence.  I am capable of looking at things objectively. It is a helpful skill.

That in no way settles the debate over who had the better career. It does help  Jack's case which I guess is why I am getting push back.  It frankly is so self evident that I didn't even see the need to verbalize when I brought up the top finishes. It is implicit in bringing up top finishes. Just like field strength, reasonable people can't disagree with this.

Jack had more majors (against a weaker field) and more 2nd place finishes against a weaker field. All other stats Tiger wins. And so you’re reasoning is:

1. Those other stats don’t matter.

2. Tiger was luckier.

You're not being reasonable by any stretch of the imagination.

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8 minutes ago, Vinsk said:

 

Jack had more majors (against a weaker field) and more 2nd place finishes against a weaker field. All other stats Tiger wins. And so you’re reasoning is:

1. Those other stats don’t matter.

2. Tiger was luckier.

You're not being reasonable by any stretch of the imagination.

I never once said those other stats don't matter. 

Majors are the most important scorecard though.  It has never not been that way since I first start playing golf at age 5.  In fact, this is only place I have ever seen give so little weight to majors.

Tiger was luckier relative to Jack. That isn't disputable. The degree disputable. Whether that puts Jack ahead of Tiger is disputable. 

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5 minutes ago, Fidelio said:

I never once said those other stats don't matter. 

Majors are the most important scorecard though.  It has never not been that way since I first start playing golf at age 5.  In fact, this is only place I have ever seen give so little weight to majors.

Tiger was luckier relative to Jack. That isn't disputable. The degree disputable. Whether that puts Jack ahead of Tiger is disputable. 

When you started playing isn’t the basis of Majors and their importance. It was Jack who proposed that Majors are of most importance. He decided that once he knew he couldn’t beat Snead’s win total. Tiger was luckier isn’t disputable? Sorry that’s downright ignorant to say. 

Majors most important? Fine. Tiger won 14 against much stronger fields to Jack’s 18.

If I enter a tournament with 5 black belts, 30 brown belts and 10 orange belts and win 14 times....or

You enter one with 5 black belts, 30 orange and 10 white belts and win 18...

You think you’d be considered a greater fighter than me?

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2 minutes ago, Fidelio said:

Majors are the most important scorecard though.  It has never not been that way since I first start playing golf at age 5.  In fact, this is only place I have ever seen give so little weight to majors.

Heck, the majors are not even the strongest tournaments fields to play against in a given year. They are only important because Jack decided to make them the measuring stick. You could say, Jack was self serving in his publicity of the majors. 

Tiger has many more quality wins than Jack does, and he won them more impressively. 

5 minutes ago, Fidelio said:

Tiger was luckier relative to Jack. That isn't disputable. The degree disputable. Whether that puts Jack ahead of Tiger is disputable. 

Measure this luck. Guess what, you can't. That article posted, it did a poor job trying to quantify luck.

There are a lot of non-disputable facts in this thread that give Tiger the edge, by a pretty good margin. 

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2 hours ago, mvmac said:

Ha, yeah basically the theme of this thread.

Never occurs to some that he didn't have to come from behind much because of was that good 😉

Nor the fact that Jack's come from behind wins were not all like the '86 Masters where he shot a hot last round (although even in that one he was aided by guys screwing up, like Seve's ball in the water and Norman's bogey on 18).  Sometimes he was just the last man standing while others collapsed around him.  Something that literally (used in the literal sense) NEVER happened for Tiger.

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On 7/8/2018 at 11:01 PM, BillBuckeye said:

If you are comparing their stats, keep in mind the the clubs and balls they were using very different. Jack was using woods made of wood. You can’t fairly compare their driving stats because the equipment of today is so much different than the 60’s and 70’s when Jack was in his prime. I think you’re selling Jack short, he was every bit as good as Tiger was in his prime. Remember, Jack won 18 majors and 2nd place 15 times, he could handle the pressure situations. 

Better equipment made it more difficult for Tiger to win and out-perform his peers, who were already significantly better than Jack's peers.

On 7/8/2018 at 11:03 PM, Fidelio said:

That's right. I go with the evidence.  I am capable of looking at things objectively. It is a helpful skill.

Oh my goodness. You think that you've given "evidence"?

How about the evidence that supports the idea that maybe 50 of Tiger's wins were more difficult and against stiffer competition than all 18 of Jack's majors? How about evidence that would show that?

You cite a horrible article based on a bad PDF regarding "luck" as evidence. An article someone with a basic understanding of math and sports can dismantle, and ignore everything else.

On 7/8/2018 at 11:03 PM, Fidelio said:

That in no way settles the debate over who had the better career.

Oh brother.

Tiger had the better career, too. He won more tournaments against stiffer competition. The way you talk, a guy who wins 10 majors over a 30-year span is better than a guy who wins 10 in a four-year span. The only reason I think you cite "the career" is because it kinda favors Jack in the perverse way in which you're looking at it.

Tiger's career:

  • Had more PGA Tour wins.
  • Had more PGA Tour POY awards.
  • Had more PGA Tour Vardon trophies.
  • Had more dominating wins than Jack.
  • Had more European Tour wins.
  • Spent more time as OWGR #1 (even if it had existed in Jack's heyday).
  • Had more WGC victories.
  • Had 14 major titles against significantly stiffer competition than Jack's 18 (14x > 18y).

Tiger has had a better career than Jack, too. He just accomplished more in a shorter period of time. And you're penalizing him, because you want to, for doing it in a shorter period of time.

On 7/8/2018 at 11:04 PM, Vinsk said:

And so you’re reasoning is:

1. Those other stats don’t matter.
2. Tiger was luckier.

You're not being reasonable by any stretch of the imagination.

Yep. That's @Fidelio in a nutshell, all while he condescendingly tells us our American understanding of math is what is failing us, and if we were smarter, we'd see.

I understand math just fine. Math goes beyond comparing 18 and 14, and trying to say that an outlier performance is "luck." Tiger's last PGA Tour victory may have been a more difficult win than any of Jack's majors.

The citing of luck at least made me laugh, @Fidelio. What a joke.

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Strength of filed be damned, IMO, anyone who goes by 18 >14 really needs to go back and look at Hagen (and other players from earlier eras). Sure Hagen "only" won 11 major titles. First you need to add 3 or 4 to his total in consideration of WWI cancelling 9 majors during the prime of his career; so that makes his total 15, and then you need to add 1/3 in recognition that the Masters didn't exists until after he'd won his last major. So that makes his total 20 "equivalent" majors to compare to the modern totals of 18 and 14.

But in all honesty anyone standing solely on the 18 > 14 argument is really wanting to hang on to their image of Jack or to not wanting to recognize Tiger for his greatness and all that he has accomplished.

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2 hours ago, Wally Fairway said:

Strength of filed be damned, IMO, anyone who goes by 18 >14 really needs to go back and look at Hagen (and other players from earlier eras). Sure Hagen "only" won 11 major titles. First you need to add 3 or 4 to his total in consideration of WWI cancelling 9 majors during the prime of his career; so that makes his total 15, and then you need to add 1/3 in recognition that the Masters didn't exists until after he'd won his last major. So that makes his total 20 "equivalent" majors to compare to the modern totals of 18 and 14.

But in all honesty anyone standing solely on the 18 > 14 argument is really wanting to hang on to their image of Jack or to not wanting to recognize Tiger for his greatness and all that he has accomplished.

And don't forget the Western Opens Hagen won, which was a major at the time (or would have been, if the concept of a major had existed).

But your final paragraph says it all, and says it well.

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On 7/8/2018 at 8:04 PM, Vinsk said:

Sigh.... I know you’ve joined late and this thread is exhausting, but all your points have been argued and clearly dismantled throughout the thread.

Jack had more majors (against a weaker field) and more 2nd place finishes against a weaker field. All other stats Tiger wins. And so you’re reasoning is:

1. Those other stats don’t matter.

2. Tiger was luckier.

You're not being reasonable by any stretch of the imagination.

Weaker field is the answer? Please!?!?! Weisskopf, Watson, Player, Palmer, Miller, Trevino.....etc. are you kidding? Tiger had only Mickelson, any of the other greats he faced were at the tail end of their competitive careers. Tiger had a great run for about 10 years, probably better than any we’ve ever seen, but Jack was at the top far longer. He was TOP 2 at 30 majors, keep your weaker field argument, it doesn’t hold up. Why not Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones or Walter Hagen? Whoever is the latest, must be the greatest. We’ll never know for sure, but Jack was the man to beat for about 20 years, Tiger flamed out and has been out of contention for pretty much the last 10 years, with no signs of getting back to the top.

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3 minutes ago, BillBuckeye said:

Weaker field is the answer? Please!?!?! Weisskopf, Watson, Player, Palmer, Miller, Trevino.....etc. are you kidding? Tiger had only Mickelson, any of the other greats he faced were at the tail end of their competitive careers. Tiger had a great run for about 10 years, probably better than any we’ve ever seen, but Jack was at the top far longer. He was TOP 2 at 30 majors, keep your weaker field argument, it doesn’t hold up. Why not Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones or Walter Hagen? Whoever is the latest, must be the greatest. We’ll never know for sure, but Jack was the man to beat for about 20 years, Tiger flamed out and has been out of contention for pretty much the last 10 years, with no signs of getting back to the top.

Oh brother.

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21 minutes ago, BillBuckeye said:

Weaker field is the answer? Please!?!?! Weisskopf, Watson, Player, Palmer, Miller, Trevino.....etc. are you kidding? Tiger had only Mickelson, any of the other greats he faced were at the tail end of their competitive careers. Tiger had a great run for about 10 years, probably better than any we’ve ever seen, but Jack was at the top far longer. He was TOP 2 at 30 majors, keep your weaker field argument, it doesn’t hold up. Why not Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones or Walter Hagen? Whoever is the latest, must be the greatest. We’ll never know for sure, but Jack was the man to beat for about 20 years, Tiger flamed out and has been out of contention for pretty much the last 10 years, with no signs of getting back to the top.

Take a few days and read through this thread, because apparently you were not willing to do so before typing that response.

If you are not willing, then there will be no reasoning with you, and your post here will do nothing but prove you are unwilling to take in a constructive look at the reason why your response is may be wrong.

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1 hour ago, saevel25 said:

Take a few days and read through this thread, because apparently you were not willing to do so before typing that response.

If you are not willing, then there will be no reasoning with you, and your post here will do nothing but prove you are unwilling to take in a constructive look at the reason why your response is may be wrong.

Nice suggestion. I’m not gonna hold my breath though. Don’t see why some are so stubborn about this issue. It’s not political, religious or even ethical. Tiger clearly being the GOAT does nothing to tarnish Jack’s status or accomplishments. All sports can have this debate. It just so happens Tiger is the clear winner of this one. What’s so damn difficult about that? Hopefully he’ll read the thread and get new insight. Until then @BillBuckeye is just another ‘drive for show putt for dough ‘ guy.

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3 hours ago, BillBuckeye said:

Weaker field is the answer? Please!?!?! Weisskopf, Watson, Player, Palmer, Miller, Trevino.....etc. are you kidding?

Heh, I guess I'd better listen to a guy who cites Weiskopf and forgets Casper.  Not to mention that Watson's first major was 11 years after Arnie's last, but I'm very familiar with Jack fans who think he had to beat them all every week.

Here's a better list: Arnie, Casper, Trevino, Miller, Watson.  The thing they have in common is that they all had multiple seasons during Jack's prime when they were clearly better than he was.   That's kind of the opposite of dominance.  Jack was very good for 20+ years, that's why he's second best of all time, but he never dominated like Tiger.

As for catching guys at the tail end of their career, there are nearly 20 players who turned pro in 2001 or before, and won majors after Tiger won his last, including relatively recent winners Phil, Sergio, and Ernie.

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29 minutes ago, brocks said:

Heh, I guess I'd better listen to a guy who cites Weiskopf and forgets Casper.  Not to mention that Watson's first major was 11 years after Arnie's last, but I'm very familiar with Jack fans who think he had to beat them all every week.

Here's a better list: Arnie, Casper, Trevino, Miller, Watson.  The thing they have in common is that they all had multiple seasons during Jack's prime when they were clearly better than he was.   That's kind of the opposite of dominance.  Jack was very good for 20+ years, that's why he's second best of all time, but he never dominated like Tiger.

As for catching guys at the tail end of their career, there are nearly 20 players who turned pro in 2001 or before, and won majors after Tiger won his last, including relatively recent winners Phil, Sergio, and Ernie.

Gosh darn it @brocks! There you go again stating facts again with logic and reasoning! That'll get you nowhere with the likes of @Fidelio and @BillBuckeye. Jack never had to rely on luck like Tiger did. I mean, the '86 Masters? It was pretty common in those days for Seve to duck hook into the water when the pressure was on. We all saw that coming.

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13 hours ago, iacas said:

Tiger has had a better career than Jack, too. He just accomplished more in a shorter period of time. And you're penalizing him, because you want to, for doing it in a shorter period of time.

 

I am not penalizing anyone for doing something in a shorter time.  I am looking at a total career.

Quote

You cite a horrible article based on a bad PDF regarding "luck" as evidence. An article someone with a basic understanding of math and sports can dismantle, and ignore everything else.

Whether the methodology is correct or not is irrelevant. The point of linking to study by Dartmouth academics is show that sports are very random and academics readily accept that. And they look to do studies to quantify that randomness to separate skill from luck. The conclusion that is almost always drawn is people overestimate the amount of control an athlete has and underestimate the amount of randomness 

Some studies where intuition vs reality diverge:

Clutch Hitting http://research.sabr.org/journals/the-statistical-mirage-of-clutch-hitting

Clutch Shooting https://sites.psu.edu/siowfa15/2015/11/30/the-clutch-gene-in-sports/

Hot hands and streaks http://www.cs.colorado.edu/~mozer/Teaching/syllabi/7782/readings/gilovich vallone tversky.pdf

(All of those don't exist.)

Quote

Yep. That's @Fidelio in a nutshell, all while he condescendingly tells us our American understanding of math is what is failing us, and if we were smarter, we'd see.

I shouldn't have said that but it was in response to equally bad insults hurled at me.  

That said, I am right. I am 100% certain I am right with respect to luck. And frankly, what I said shouldn't be controversial.

Quote

I understand math just fine. Math goes beyond comparing 18 and 14, and trying to say that an outlier performance is "luck." Tiger's last PGA Tour victory may have been a more difficult win than any of Jack's majors.

The citing of luck at least made me laugh, @Fidelio. What a joke.

I'll give it another crack.

Let's say a person has a certain level of skill that says they should win 15% of the majors they entered over a career of 20 years. So if they are healthy they play in 80 majors. Based on their skill, they should win 12 majors on average. But will they win precisely 12 majors? With a sample size this small they could  win 15 majors or 9 majors and still be well within what is expected based on their win rate.  Two people of equal skill could be six majors apart.  The only difference is the guy with 9 majors was very unlucky and the guy with 15 majors had a lot of good fortune, yet they are the same player.

In the real world, you don't know how many majors a player would be expected to win.  But you can look retrospectively. And a way that can help determine who got the short end of the straw would be to look at how often a person wins vs how often they contend. John Daly won 2 majors. Greg Norman won 2 majors. Greg contended in far more majors so it is safe to say that Greg was unlucky relative to Daly. In Greg's case, he had a lot of visible misfortune that people remember.

Jack had 56 top 5s.  Tiger has 31 top 5s.  Out of that Jack won 18 majors and Tiger won 14.   Jack closely contended almost double the number of times that Tiger did. The win rate vs times contended  might be due to the aggressive style Tiger plays which will produce higher highs and lower lows.

But mostly the gap between  the number of majors contended in vs won is due to luck. If their careers played out a thousand times the gap in majors is likely larger than 4.  It is very possible Jack should have win 20 majors on average during the era he competed and Tiger should have more like 12.  I suspect if the actual major gap were 20 to 12, anyone who says Jack belongs ahead of Tiger wouldn't be treated like they are mildly retarded.

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34 minutes ago, Vinsk said:

 That'll get you nowhere with the likes of @Fidelio 

I don't disagree with what he said. You act like what he said is profound. It doesn't address ANY argument I have made.  Seriously. He just said nothing.

You primarily get judged on majors. I believe Jack would have had the better record in majors had they played in the same era. I believe Jack's game was better suited to majors than Tiger's. I am basing my reasoning on how consistently near the top Jack was in majors relative to Tiger.  I just gave a lengthy response that spells things out quite clearly.

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20 minutes ago, Fidelio said:

But mostly the gap between  the number of majors contended in vs won is due to luck.

So let's recap your logic:

Assumption: mostly the gap between  the number of majors contended in vs won is due to luck.

Conclusion: mostly the gap between  the number of majors contended in vs won is due to luck.

Q.E.D.

 

When you were getting your Ph.D. in math, didn't anyone ever tell you that you can't just assume your conclusion?

There have been approximately ten jillion posts that show that the fields were weaker in Jack's day.  As @turtleback and I have noted several times, this holds even if you insist that athletes have not gotten better over the last 60 years; it's just a matter of how many of the world's 100 best golfers competed in a given major, and the answer is, usually less than half 60 years ago, usually nearly all today.

Sometimes taking extreme cases helps to see basic principles.  Suppose there were only four golfers in the world that were really good.  Would you assume that someone who had 50 top fives, but zero wins, was a victim of really bad luck?

OK, suppose there were ten golfers that were really good, but usually less than half of them played in any one event.  Same question.

Can you see where this is heading?

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