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Phil McGleno

Strength and Depth of Field in Jack's Day and Tiger's Day

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  1. 1. Loosely Related Question (consider the thread topic-please dont just repeat the GOAT thread): Which is the more impressive feat?

    • Winning 20 majors in the 60s-80s.
      12
    • Winning 17 majors in the 90s-10s.
      133


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Y'all keep talking about strength of field in Jack's day and Tiger's day so I thought I'd make a thread to talk about just that part. If I can figure out how to make a related poll I'm gon' do that too. I think Tiger winning 14 against modern Tour pros is way better than Jacks 18 and Ive been alive for both of them. Even played against Jack a few times in events I qualified for-Couldn't dream of qualifying even playing my best today or even in 1995. Was a whole different ball game back in the 60s and 70s and even 80s. This isn't a "Jack versus Tiger" thread but the poll asks that question because its related-This is a "strength of field" thread and I hope discussion can talk about that.-Analysis of scoring spreads, players average finish positions in majors, whatever. And yes I'm counting U.S. Ams because Jack did until Tiger got one more than he did.

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I picked the second one, and I don't think it's even particularly close.

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I picked the second one, and I don't think it's even particularly close.

I would tend to agree.

Just one look at the size of the potential field should tell you almost all you need to know. The 10 best players at anything from a town of 10,000 is highly unlikely to be better than the 10 best players from a town of 1,000,000. I'm not saying golf's grown 100x from the 60s to the 00s… but it's grown quite a bit. Especially when you include the growth of the game outside of the U.S. - Europe, Asia, etc.

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I picked the first one and don't think it's really close......

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I picked the first one and don't think it's really close......

Just to clarify, you're saying that the fields as a whole are weaker now (late 90's to now) than they were in the 60's-80's?

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I picked the first one and don't think it's really close......

No way. The strength of field has risen astronomically since 2005 or so. The average pro now is so much better than the average pro from Jacks day it's not even funny. Note that I'm not saying the greats from yesteryear weren't great, they were. But players ranked #10-100 now would DESTROY the similarly ranked guys back then.

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Just to clarify, you're saying that the fields as a whole are weaker now (late 90's to now) than they were in the 60's-80's?

This is a tricky question.  Because how far down do you go before it stops mattering?  I remember having a discussion last year about the strength of field of the PGA being so much stronger than the Masters.  I suspect the answer to that one falls right at about the point where it's impossible for a person to win the thing.

For example, if I was added to the Masters field, and you or Erik were added to the PGA field, then there is no question that the PGA field "strength" was increased by a ton compared to the Masters field strength.  However, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't make a hill of beans difference because none of us are winning either of those tournaments, and in fact, none of us are finishing anywhere except dead last. (No offense ;-) )

So, if the cutoff is the last player with a chance to win, then there can really be no doubt that fields are stronger today.  There are waaaaay more players with at least an outside shot of winning nowadays than in the 60's or 70's.

But perhaps it's more complicated than even that?  What if I were to just use ratings.  If you rated all golfers on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being Tiger and Jack, 9 being your Phil Mickelsons and Tom Watsons and Gary Players, and let's set 5 as the low number for major winners.  (I'm thinking of you, Shaun Micheel and Michael Campbell)

There is no question that nowadays there are way more 5's than there were back then.  But are there more 8's and 9's?  What if Jack had to compete against twenty 8's and 9's, and Tiger only competed against five 8's and 9's but also fifty 5's and 6's?  I don't know that the answer is that obvious.


I didn't vote in the poll (yet) but I'm leaning towards 17 today being tougher - but not by too much.  I would certainly say without a shadow of a doubt that Tiger's 20 (if and when that ever were to happen) would be greater than Jacks 20, but I'm not totally sure 17>20.


Follow up question for @jamo , et. al. ... I'd be curious to know where the "break even" point of majors nowadays vs. majors in Jack's day would fall.  15?  10?  5?  Are Phil's 6 more impressive than Jack's 20?

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I wasn't aware that Jack stopped counting the US amatuers as majors once Tiger had 3 to his 2 interesting.

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I look at it this way, in 1980 there were 40 players within' 2 strokes of the best scoring average on the tour.  In 2013 there were 86 players within' two strokes of the best scoring average.

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I've got to go with the talent pool size and "17 Majors in the 90s-10s".

It's like recruiting players from a 1A school to recruiting players from a 5A school. You don't even really know what you are looking at when you see somebody dominate a 1A game. They might not even make the team at the 5A school.

The big fish in a small pond is a shrimp in the ocean.

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I thought the poll might make the poll the topic but I still hope it can be about discussing the strengths of the fields, not the poll question specifically.-Though if 17 wins over 20 that says a lot about what people feel about the strengths of field.

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I thought the poll might make the poll the topic but I still hope it can be about discussing the strengths of the fields, not the poll question specifically.-Though if 17 wins over 20 that says a lot about what people feel about the strengths of field.

I don't know about that. Look at Jack and the number of times he finished 2nd. Just a few things go his way and he could easily gotten 3 more majors. Just saying, 3 isn't that large of a spread when considering the strength of the field. Now go with a question like 15 or 20, now that is a tougher one to answer.

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I don't know about that. Look at Jack and the number of times he finished 2nd. Just a few things go his way and he could easily gotten 3 more majors. Just saying, 3 isn't that large of a spread when considering the strength of the field. Now go with a question like 15 or 20, now that is a tougher one to answer.

Who is to say a few things didn't go his way to get to 20? He could have just as easily gotten three more as gotten three fewer, no?

I think the point of the thread, and @Phil McGleno can correct me if I'm wrong, is not to focus on the actual numbers, but to discuss and try to put a value or assign some values or meaning to the strengths of field, regardless of what they were.

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Who is to say a few things didn't go his way to get to 20? He could have just as easily gotten three more as gotten three fewer, no?

I think the point of the thread, and @Phil McGleno can correct me if I'm wrong, is not to focus on the actual numbers, but to discuss and try to put a value or assign some values or meaning to the strengths of field, regardless of what they were.

That might be true :whistle:

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Follow up question for @jamo , et. al. ... I'd be curious to know where the "break even" point of majors nowadays vs. majors in Jack's day would fall.  15?  10?  5?  Are Phil's 6 more impressive than Jack's 20?

That's a good question. I don't really know the answer. I would lean to Jack over Phil. I think the break-even point is probably close to 12 if we're counting U.S. Ams.

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There's no doubt the fields are deeper in 2014. You've got guys coming left and right out of South Africa, Australia, Europe, and even South America. I think it's really picked up the last 5 years. I don't know if I would say the fields were all that strong around 1995 and 2000, but it's really exploded since '05 with a influx of young talent. I think there's a huge difference between the field in 2014 than say 1997 when Tiger first came on the scene, though. A huge difference. I do not think Tiger wins a Masters by 12 shots or a US Open by 15 with the 2014 field, although he still prolly wins.

It's hard to say, though, that the top-5 or top-10 now is better than the top-10 then. That's pure opinion. Is Jack better than Tiger? Phil better than Watson? McIlroy better than Player? Day better than Trevino? Bubba better than Floyd? I don't know. Anytime you compare eras you can argue about the competition but it's hard to argue about individual talent unless they really go head-to-head against each other.

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There's no doubt the fields are deeper in 2014. You've got guys coming left and right out of South Africa, Australia, Europe, and even South America. I think it's really picked up the last 5 years. I don't know if I would say the fields were all that strong around 1995 and 2000, but it's really exploded since '05 with a influx of young talent. I think there's a huge difference between the field in 2014 than say 1997 when Tiger first came on the scene, though. A huge difference. I do not think Tiger wins a Masters by 12 shots or a US Open by 15 with the 2014 field, although he still prolly wins.

And I think the fields were way, way, way stronger in 1997 than in 1967.

The difference… I think the numbers back up my opinion. You seem to be guessing.

It's hard to say, though, that the top-5 or top-10 now is better than the top-10 then. That's pure opinion.

It's not pure opinion, no. There's a dash of opinion, but you can break things down statistically, too.

And statistically speaking, it's highly, highly unlikely that even the top ten players in any one year in the 1960s or 1970s were, man-to-man, anywhere near as good as the top ten from the 90s or 00s, simply due to the size of the talent pool.

The only numbers you can provide to support your opinion - that Trevino and Watson and so on had more majors than Phil and Ernie and others in the Tiger era - also support my argument that the fields are that much stronger today.

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I think something as simple as being able to travel so easily and comfortably must help give players that are traveling a better shot at winning events that would have been much more demanding 40 years ago. That probably brings more possible winners into the field each week.

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