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

Greatest Golfer (GOAT)  

194 members have voted

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

    • Tiger Woods is the man
      1634
    • Jack Nicklaus is my favorite
      815


6,761 posts / 519022 viewsLast Reply

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14 hours ago, Fidelio said:

You are a product of America's poor job educating in math and science. And even worse, you are condescending. You are the perfect example of the high self esteem know-nothing that this country produces.

"Tiger was lucky" in the context I described is a very reasonable statement to any non-math illiterate. 

 

Well, I only have a math degree, 20+ years of experience as an actuary, and 15 years of teaching math, but I guess I am a math illiterate since to say Tiger was 'lucky' in his major wins is one of the most ridiculous things I have heard.  Math doesn't work that way - none of it.

If you flip a coin 14 times and it comes up heads every single time you have 2 possibilities - either you just witnessed a 1 out of 16384 'lucky' event, or the true odds of a single coin flip with that coin are not 50-50. 

Now take into account that the closeout rate in majors for guys not named Tiger who are tied or leading going into the 4th round is well below 50%, so the lucky option would be even more of an outlier.  Add in the margins of victory, and the 'lucky' explanation kind of falls apart.  Further add in that his closeout rate in non-majors is almost as good, and as unlikely to be due to 'luck', and the ridiculous standard for the 'lucky' hypothesis has been reached and exceeded.

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16 minutes ago, turtleback said:

Well, I only have a math degree, 20+ years of experience as an actuary, and 15 years of teaching math, but I guess I am a math illiterate since to say Tiger was 'lucky' in his major wins is one of the most ridiculous things I have heard.  Math doesn't work that way - none of it.

If you flip a coin 14 times and it comes up heads every single time you have 2 possibilities - either you just witnessed a 1 out of 16384 'lucky' event, or the true odds of a single coin flip with that coin are not 50-50. 

Now take into account that the closeout rate in majors for guys not named Tiger who are tied or leading going into the 4th round is well below 50%, so the lucky option would be even more of an outlier.  Add in the margins of victory, and the 'lucky' explanation kind of falls apart.  Further add in that his closeout rate in non-majors is almost as good, and as unlikely to be due to 'luck', and the ridiculous standard for the 'lucky' hypothesis has been reached and exceeded.

Unfortunately when someone makes such a ridiculous comment as @Fidelio did, the discussion simply crumbles. We won’t be getting anything of any substance from him from this point. He’s taken his football, dropped a deuce on the field and went home.

However, I’d like to say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your data and the contributions you’ve made to this topic. I’ve leaned towards TW as the GOAT but the information here has made it a much easier decision I believe.

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10 minutes ago, Vinsk said:

Unfortunately when someone makes such a ridiculous comment as @Fidelio did, the discussion simply crumbles. We won’t be getting anything of any substance from him from this point. He’s taken his football, dropped a deuce on the field and went home.

However, I’d like to say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your data and the contributions you’ve made to this topic. I’ve leaned towards TW as the GOAT but the information here has made it a much easier decision I believe.

Well thank you, but I've had a lot of help.  @iacas is 'The Man' when it comes to the strength of field part of the analysis, and I've learned a lot of what I know from @brocks and a couple of guys from the old Golf Channel forums.

And thank you for your participation in my Who is #3 thread.

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1 hour ago, Vinsk said:

Unfortunately when someone makes such a ridiculous comment as @Fidelio did, the discussion simply crumbles. We won’t be getting anything of any substance from him from this point. He’s taken his football, dropped a deuce on the field and went home.

However, I’d like to say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your data and the contributions you’ve made to this topic. I’ve leaned towards TW as the GOAT but the information here has made it a much easier decision I believe.

That just happened.

https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/weird/NJ-Superintendent-Accused-of-Pooping-on-High-School-Track-481659861.html

I love how when math solves a problem, those who don't like the answer decide math is insufficient.

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Comparing Jack and Tiger is like comparing Jordan and LeBron or Mantle and Trout. Comparing eras is futile and great athletes and competitors are simply that, great. If there's a Mt Rushmore of greats, certain players deserve their spots, period.

Jack, however was my favorite since I grew up in the 70s and there was a huge field of great golfers to chose from, many with larger than life personas. Tiger, like Jack changed the game for the better, but in different ways. Tiger brought the game to even more people than Daly did and got young people into the sport like no other before him and he did it by being great, not just the cool kid. If I had a Mt Rushmore of players I saw play in my life it would be Jack, Tiger, Phil and Arnie, with Hogan and Jones on it for pure legend.

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2 hours ago, satchmodog said:

Comparing Jack and Tiger is like comparing Jordan and LeBron or Mantle and Trout. Comparing eras is futile and great athletes and competitors are simply that, great. If there's a Mt Rushmore of greats, certain players deserve their spots, period.

Well stated.  These goat discussions cannot be unequivocally settled.  Plus, the "better than most" pretty much says it all :-D.

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3 hours ago, satchmodog said:

Comparing Jack and Tiger is like comparing Jordan and LeBron or Mantle and Trout. Comparing eras is futile and great athletes and competitors are simply that, great. If there's a Mt Rushmore of greats, certain players deserve their spots, period.

Jack, however was my favorite since I grew up in the 70s and there was a huge field of great golfers to chose from, many with larger than life personas. Tiger, like Jack changed the game for the better, but in different ways. Tiger brought the game to even more people than Daly did and got young people into the sport like no other before him and he did it by being great, not just the cool kid. If I had a Mt Rushmore of players I saw play in my life it would be Jack, Tiger, Phil and Arnie, with Hogan and Jones on it for pure legend.

I'd be a lot more sympathetic to the 'can't compare golfers across eras' position if anyone had raised that point when Jack was writing every golfer from other eras out of the greatest golfer discussion.  When Jack, having twice as many opportunities to play majors as, e.g. Hogan, declared that the ONLY FAIR WAY to compare golfers across eras was number of majors won, NO ONE, said, 'hold on there mate, you had twice as many chances as those guys and anyway, we can't compare players across eras'.  No, led by Dan Jenkins the whole golf world just uncritically nodded and went along with it.  So I don't buy that position at all.

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Im a bookmaker, and have been from 1998, admittedly I do not have odds data from the Bears Era. I cant see him being odds on (minus money for US guys) week in week out for a solid 5-6 years. 

I follow the golf markets quite a lot, believe me no-one has come close to that level of dominance in the last 20 years, and I guess before that either.

To put it into context, Tiger was shorter odds every week before a ball was struck, than most guys who are leading after Round 3 in any tournament played now. Ask any serious golf pundit who has seen the different era's. All I ever heard was "we have never seen the likes of this"

Injuries seem to be the only thing to have held Tiger back IMO. You could give him a pass for when he was going through the end of marriage/the games up period, but mostly its his back.

For me Tiger is the greatest ever golfer, but I can concede to the 18>14 argument as well.

What would happen if we asked Tiger and Jack? I assume myself that each would say the others name in that conversation. Cant we appreciate both as the Golfing Giants they were?

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3 hours ago, tweakers said:

Cant we appreciate both as the Golfing Giants they were?

No! It is required that we belittle one of them until they are no more than a footnote in history while elevating the other on a pedestal.

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16 minutes ago, Pretzel said:

No! It is required that we belittle one of them until they are no more than a footnote in history while elevating the other on a pedestal.

Are you British? Ever visited Blighty? Friends from there that you converse with a lot? hmmm

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4 hours ago, tweakers said:

Are you British? Ever visited Blighty? Friends from there that you converse with a lot? hmmm

Can't say I've ever had anything to do with that side of the world.

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5 hours ago, Pretzel said:

No! It is required that we belittle one of them until they are no more than a footnote in history while elevating the other on a pedestal.

And yet that’s the problem here. The melancholic  ‘ I walked uphill in snow to school both ways and putting is the most important component of scoring’ clan sees it as that, belittling. It’s not that at all. Data and stats have been presented along with simple facts that imo clearly show Tiger to be the GOAT.  

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52 minutes ago, Pretzel said:

@Fidelio, I notice you are conveniently forgetting about the injury Tiger had during that stretch of time. Specifically an injury that would be considered by most to be a career ender. That said, from the way Tiger has played recently his career appears to now be far from over.

Yeah. That, and…

2 hours ago, Fidelio said:

I think it is hardly unreasonable and I don't see why that isn't more convincing to you.

You get to have whatever opinion you want, but finishing third amongst a field that only had a few people who could win is absolutely not the same thing as finishing even fifth among a field with multiple times the number of players who could win.

Strength and depth of field absolutely affect not only wins but top threes, top fives, top tens… cuts made… etc.

2 hours ago, Fidelio said:

I just want to put something up that is relevant to the actual thread of field strength. Look how bad this stretch is for Tiger. It is why he doesn't have the career numbers. Not just the field strength. Jack never had stretch his bad on the regular tour And for fun I included Jack in his mid/late 50s when he overlapped some with Tiger up to his  hip surgery.

I just want to put something up that is relevant to the actual thread of field strength. Look at how good this stretch is for Tiger. It is why he has all the same career numbers (or better) as Jack Nicklaus except for the majors total. And he did this against significantly stronger/deeper fields. Jack never had a stretch this good on the regular Tour at any point in his career. Never.

Year Masters U.S. Open British Open PGA
1999 T18 T3 T7 1
2000 5 1 1 1
2001 1 T12 T25 T29
2002 1 1 T28 2
2003 T15 T20 T4 T39
2004 T22 T17 T9 T24
2005 1 2 1 T4
2006 T3 MC 1 1
2007 T2 T2 T12 1
2008 2 1 - -

The MC in there was after his father died. And that table above doesn't include the number of WGCs he won. The number of PGA Tour events that he had. The level of dominance he had. It doesn't include stuff like this:

Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 9.18.06 PM.jpg

It's a complete farce that you say that Tiger doesn't have "the career numbers." A complete farce.

Tiger has:

  • More PGA Tour wins.
  • More European Tour wins.
  • More dominant wins.
  • More multi-major years.
  • More years with 3+ PGA Tour wins.
  • More scoring titles.
  • More player of the year trophies.
  • More WGCs. ;-)

The only thing in which Tiger doesn't have "the career numbers" are major wins, but again, 14x > 18y, IMO, given the substantial increase in strength/depth of field.

@turtleback likes to (rightly) point out that if you stack up their best years top to bottom, you get to about year 12 before Jack can claim a victory. Tiger wins - easily - the first ten or twelve.

Tiger has the career numbers.

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3 hours ago, iacas said:

 

Year Masters U.S. Open British Open PGA
1999 T18 T3 T7 1
2000 5 1 1 1
2001 1 T12 T25 T29
2002 1 1 T28 2
2003 T15 T20 T4 T39
2004 T22 T17 T9 T24
2005 1 2 1 T4
2006 T3 MC 1 1
2007 T2 T2 T12 1
2008 2 1 - -

 

Even though this is my favorite golf topic, I feel the topic has run its course, but..

That 10 year stretch was clearly better.  But my whole argument kind of hinges on how the next 10 went. A  career is a marathon.  Tiger from 32 to 42  only won 18 times and one major. Not to mention Tiger was shooting 85s and topping the ball while Jack's bad tournaments were like 5th place finishes.. Jack won 33 times  and 8 majors over the same period.  The next 10 is where the tortoise overtakes the hare.

 

Quote

@turtleback likes to (rightly) point out that if you stack up their best years top to bottom, you get to about year 12 before Jack can claim a victory. Tiger wins - easily - the first ten or twelve.

 

Tiger was much better in his prime. (Also much worse in his non-prime.) He had six years better than Jack's best year. Maybe. Not 12. Jack won 7 times and 2 majors in 1972. 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.

Edited by Fidelio

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2 hours ago, Fidelio said:

Tiger was much better in his prime. (Also much worse in his non-prime.) He had six years better than Jack's best year. Maybe. Not 12. Jack won 7 times and 2 majors in 1972. 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.

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.

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2 hours ago, Fidelio said:

Tiger was much better in his prime. (Also much worse in his non-prime.) He had six years better than Jack's best year. 

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.

Who was the best golfer? Perhaps it's time you just admit it was the golfer who played at an unheard of level for more than half a decade, rather than the guy whose best season (against a worse competition) was only as good as the 7th best season of the true GoaT.

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. 

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