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Poll: Who is #3?

Who is #3?  

81 members have voted

  1. 1. If we accept the premise that Jack and Tiger occupy the first 2 places on the all-time list, who is third on the list?

    • Ben Hogan
      25
    • Gary Player
      2
    • Phil Mickelson
      24
    • Tom Watson
      7
    • Arnold Palmer
      9
    • Sam Snead
      7
    • Byron Nelson
      1
    • Bobby Jones
      3
    • Other (please specify)
      3


109 posts / 11350 viewsLast Reply

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I voted for Hogan. I think he would have won more majors if he was not hit by a bus and competed seriously for longer. Dude was in good shape, hit the ball great, and his putting prob wouldnt have given out if his eye wasnt all messed up. Could be wrong.

Anyways, I think Gary Player deserves a little more love. Dude had to take down Jack, Arnie, Travino, Watson and won the grand slam! Did your player complete the career grand slam?

he was a winner. He found a way to score like few others...After all Lowest Score Wins!

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Like Christopher George, in the old T.V. show, I have O-negative blood. That makes me immortal (so far) and susceptible to the siren calls of yesteryear. I cannot erase, from my mind, the image of Harry Vardon sweeping the ball off the turf or John Ball playing out of a green side bunker with a mashie.  It colors my perception in ways I am ill-suited to ignore.  As such...I cannot help but think what has gone on before.  The young black fellow, and the commoner from Ohio, are both exceptionally talented and their accomplishments are well worthy of note.  That being said...we have seen this before and will likely see it again.  Few living remember Fergus Wight...or his sister.  I know I don't.  She wasn't bad looking at the time...but the standards were different then.

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On 4/20/2019 at 6:49 PM, Ernest Jones said:

Gotta go with FIGJAM, aka Lefty, aka Phil. He fell victim to having his best years coincide with the an era where Tiger was essentially unbeatable. 

I often accuse Jack's advocates of having hazy, rosy memories of him dominating every year, holding off a charging Arnie, Trevino, Miller, and Watson down the stretch every time he won, but it seems the same thing is happening with Tiger.  Tiger was by far the most dominant player in the history of golf, but he didn't dominate every week, or even every year.  

At his best, Tiger did miss fairways, did miss greens, did chunk it, did miss crucial putts, and did lose most of the events he entered (except for the greatest two-year stretch of golf ever seen, from the 1999 Byron Nelson to the 2001 Memorial, when Tiger won an incredible 29 times out of 55 events, including 20 of 41 official PGA events, 5 majors, 3 WGCs, 3 Memorials, 2 Bay Hills, a Players, and a TC.  A first ballot Hall of Fame career in two years!).  

He had several seasons where he was far from dominant --- 1998, 2004, 2010-12, 2014-18.  And even during good years, he sometimes didn't win all the awards, mostly because (like Jack) he played less often than his competition, so a beast like Vijay could steal money titles by playing almost twice as many events.  Tiger even gave a Vardon Trophy away in 2006 after winning six events in a row, when all he had to do was shoot below 80 for a few more rounds, but he thought he'd rather go spear fishing, so he didn't get his 60 rounds in.

In other words, Tiger left a lot on the table.  If Phil is #3 on the all-time list, he must have won a lot of the awards that Tiger didn't, right?  Let's take a look.

Phil turned pro just before the 1992 US Open, 1401 weeks ago, almost 27 years ago.  Having won a PGA event the previous year as an amateur (and fair play to him, that was something that Tiger and Jack never did), he was exempt from the get-go.

Tiger was number one in the world rankings for 683 weeks.
That leaves 718 weeks Phil could have been #1 in the world.  17 other golfers did it, including journeymen like Westwood and Donald.  Phil never did.

Tiger was Player of the Year 11 times.
That leaves 16 years Phil could have won it (and actually 32 chances to win it, since there are two different POYs, determined by entirely different methods).  14 other golfers did it, including Tom Lehman, who won only five PGA events in his career.  Phil never did.

Tiger was the leading money winner 10 times.  
That leaves 17 years Phil could have done it.  12 other golfers did it, including Vijay 3 times during Tiger's prime.  Phil never did.

Tiger won the Vardon Trophy nine times.  That leaves 18 times Phil could have won it.  14 other golfers did it, including Matt Kuchar in a year when he won a single event, and forever endeared himself to me when he dropped a Jeepers-bomb after hitting a drive OB.  Phil never did.

The lesser-known Byron Nelson Award is the PGA Tour's version of the Vardon, and requires only 50 rounds.  Tiger also won that nine times, and 13 other golfers won it the other 18 years, including Steve Stricker, who by all accounts is a super nice guy, but who is probably being mentioned in a GOAT-related thread for the first time in his life.  Phil never did.

Tiger had the most wins in a season 12 times.  That leaves 15 times Phil could have done it.  And hey, he actually did it one year, namely 1996, getting the last of his four wins the week before Tiger turned pro.

Finally, Tiger has won 2 of the 12 available FedEx Cups, leaving 10 times Phil could have won it.  10 different golfers have won the other 10, including Bill Haas and Billy Horschel, who join Stricker in seeing their names in a GOAT thread for the first time.  Phil never did it.

So even if we concede that Tiger is inhuman, and absolutely unbeatable, and that nobody could possibly have challenged him for any of the awards he won that demonstrate sustained excellence over a season, he somehow left 110 awards available for others to win (assuming I counted right, and including both versions of the POTY) during Phil's winning career.  Phil won only one of those 110, even during Tiger's slumps and injured periods when dozens of golfers, including some that most golf fans wouldn't recognize off the course, were winning them.  And he never made it to World #1 during Tiger's slumps, even though 17 of his contemporaries did.

Vijay, seven years older than Phil, and joining the tour a year after Phil, had 3 money titles, a wins title (won 9 times in 2004, more than anyone ever except for Nelson, Snead, Hogan, and Tiger), a Vardon, a Nelson, a POTY, a FedEx Cup, and was #1 in the world for 32 weeks.  All after Tiger turned pro, and all before Tiger hit the hydrant.

Nor did Tiger take very many wins away from Phil -- Phil finished second (including ties) to Tiger in just 4 PGA events, including one major (the US Open at Bethpage).  Phil didn't suffer nearly as much as Chris DiMarco, who finished solo second to Tiger in two majors and a WGC, or Ernie Els, who finished second to Tiger in five PGA events and two Euro events, including two majors in a row (to be fair, he lost those two majors by a total of 23 shots, so he probably didn't have high hopes of winning those weeks).

We should be consistent.  If dominance is the main criterion for GOAT, then the third GOAT should be the third most dominant.  To me, Phil is the epitome of a golfer who was very good for a long time, but never dominant.  Almost 20 years ago, when I was debating Tiger vs Jack on the old r.s.g. usenet board, I would sometimes invoke the hypothetical career of a fictional golfer who averaged a win or two a year for 30 years, maybe with an occasional major, compiling big career numbers but never the best golfer of the year, and use that unlikely scenario to prove that longevity was not greatness.  Phil is now that guy.

Don't get me wrong, I love watching Phil play, and I think he's a great guy for the way he treats the fans and his fellow players (like the time he rescued Mahan during a post-Ryder Cup press conference, when Mahan started crying.  That was pure class.)  But as fellow Phil fans can sadly attest, even after he pulls off an incredible shot, you're sort of waiting to see how he'll blow it.  It's a pleasant surprise when he actually wins.  That is the opposite of dominance.

Unless you played before there were world rankings or the awards listed above, I don't think you're even sniffing dominance until you can say you've been #1 in the world, and have won at least four of the sustained excellence awards -- most wins, money title, scoring title, POTY, FedEx Cup.

There are three players under 30 --- Thomas, Spieth, and McIlroy --- who have already done that.  Spieth and Thomas are only 25 years old, born a year after Phil joined the tour, and they've already been more dominant than Phil ever was.  Phil turned 25 over a year before Tiger joined the tour, and had over four years to duplicate the feats of Spieth and Thomas against fields almost completely lacking in star power.  But Norman was far more dominant during that time than Phil, so how can you rank Phil ahead of Norman?

IMO, when you are talking GOAT you have to go through all the golfers who dominated for at least a couple or three years before you look at players who were pretty good for a long time, but never dominated.  Even omitting the pre-WWI golfers who averaged only one major a year, you have at least Jones, Hagen, Nelson, Snead, Hogan, Arnie, Casper, Trevino, Miller, Seve, Watson, Norman, Faldo, and Rory, and you could make an argument for several others.  For me, it's a tough call between Hogan and Watson for #3, but it's an easy call to put Snead, Arnie, Casper, and even Norman above Phil.

Edited by brocks

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I’d have to go with Ben. Ben could be 1 or 2. There’s no 100% guarantee that if he were in Tiger or Jack’s era that he wouldn’t have more majors than them. You never know with their equipment how many Ben could have. To me, we have to consider Ben a serious contender as the GOAT. 

Edited by ChrisP

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1 hour ago, iacas said:

FWIW I don’t define GOAT exclusively by dominance. Or even mostly.

Well, you're under no legal obligation to do so.  But I'm curious what definition you do use that makes Phil #3 all-time, when I'm not even sure he beats out Norman and Vijay for #3 in his era.

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@brocks, wins weighted against the field.

Vijay - 34/3

Phil - 44/5

Norman (barely overlaps) - 20/2

Winning a tournament is ultimately a “dominant” act.

Now, I care about who number three is about 1/1000th number one, so these aren’t deeply thought out. But those numbers above are pretty damning to your guys IMO.

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3 hours ago, iacas said:

@brocks, wins weighted against the field.

Vijay - 34/3

Phil - 44/5

Norman (barely overlaps) - 20/2

Winning a tournament is ultimately a “dominant” act.

Now, I care about who number three is about 1/1000th number one, so these aren’t deeply thought out. But those numbers above are pretty damning to your guys IMO.

Fair enough, if wins are your thing.  But you appear to be considering only PGA wins, which seems a bit unfair to foreign players who couldn't afford to travel to Europe or the US when they were young, and who joined the PGA Tour when they were at or near 30 years old.  And Norman was ranked #1 in the world as late as 1998, six years into Phil's career, so that's a pretty significant overlap --- not like, say, Hogan to Jack.

I'm meh about Vijay, and I heartily dislike Norman, so that's as hard as I'm going to fight for them, especially when I mentioned them only because they played against Phil, and had dominant years during his prime.  I can see how someone would rank Phil higher than them.

But Hogan? Snead?  Arnie?  They all have more wins, more majors, and were more dominant.  Along with those three, I'd put Watson ahead of Phil with no hesitation, even though he doesn't have quite as many wins.  And I'd have to think long and hard, which I'm not willing to do over #3, before I'd put Phil ahead of Jones, Nelson, Hagen, or even Vardon.

You know I understand the field strength argument; I've written about it at length.  But you also have to look at what guys did in their era.  If you just assume that it's harder to be #10 today than it was to be #1 in 1950, then we have to rank Rickie Fowler ahead of Ben Hogan, and I refuse to do that.  For all I know, Rickie could beat Hogan head to head, but his impact on the game is infinitely less, and IMO that's a big part of greatness.

Ask yourself this: 100 years from now, will Phil be one of golf's immortals?  I strongly doubt it, but I think Vardon, Jones, Hagen, and Nelson will still be in the conversation.

 

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14 hours ago, iacas said:

FWIW I don’t define GOAT exclusively by dominance. Or even mostly.

I do for GOAT, but I don't think it necessarily follows that 3Rd GOAT has the same criteria.  Longevity at a high level against much stronger fields trump's pure dominance against MUCH weaker fields, IMO.  Hence my choice of Phil.  

But I DO think @brocks makes a fact-filled thoughtful case, as he always does.  He had me rethinking it a bit, but the field disparities were just too great to overlook, for me.  So, I stuck with Phil.

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15 hours ago, klineka said:

:offtopic:

Just thought it’d add some comic relief, although many on this board don’t have much sense of humor I’ve found 🤷🏻‍♂️

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3 hours ago, ChrisP said:

Just thought it’d add some comic relief, although many on this board don’t have much sense of humor I’ve found 🤷🏻‍♂️

You are right, still trying the 'equipment' argument in the face of all common sense is pretty hilarious.  Not to mention your continuing obsession with '100%' certainty needed to reach a conclusion.

BTW we HAD a thread about whether, pre-Tiger, Ben should have been in thec GOAT conversation.  I know because I started it.

Edited by turtleback

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11 hours ago, brocks said:

Fair enough, if wins are your thing. But you appear to be considering only PGA wins, which seems a bit unfair to foreign players who couldn't afford to travel to Europe or the US when they were young, and who joined the PGA Tour when they were at or near 30 years old.

@turtleback said it too, but I weigh "dominance" less in #3 players than I do for #1 players.

And I don't think Norman counts much as a "foreign player who couldn't afford to travel to Europe or the U.S." Or Vijay. Phil had an impressive career, and I think he's overlooked.

I don't even like the guy - I started to, and then he did that shit at the U.S. Open…

11 hours ago, brocks said:

But Hogan? Snead? Arnie? They all have more wins, more majors, and were more dominant.

Against weaker competition. Snead might be a good #3, though, just because he has almost double the number of wins of Phil (I put Snead, truthfully, closer to 72 than 82).

11 hours ago, brocks said:

You know I understand the field strength argument; I've written about it at length.  But you also have to look at what guys did in their era.  If you just assume that it's harder to be #10 today than it was to be #1 in 1950, then we have to rank Rickie Fowler ahead of Ben Hogan, and I refuse to do that.

That's going way, way too far. Phil was #2 for a loooong time, too. And to a peak-form or near-peak-form Tiger, at that.

Rickie is no Phil Mickelson. He wishes!

11 hours ago, brocks said:

Ask yourself this: 100 years from now, will Phil be one of golf's immortals?  I strongly doubt it, but I think Vardon, Jones, Hagen, and Nelson will still be in the conversation.

He could be… he is in my opinion. And if he's not, it'll mostly have to do with having played directly against Tiger for the vast majority of his career.

But again, I haven't sat down for even five minutes outside of posting in this topic to look at anything. It's almost purely a gut choice that I'm defending until someone convinces me otherwise. I don't really care about who #3 is. Or #5. I care about 1, and then maybe the top 10.

In no particular order for 3-10.

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The problem with putting Phil in front at #3 is somebody like Rory could pass his 5 major total quite easily. When Phil was Rory's age he had 13 wins and 0 majors. Rory has 15 and 4 in case anybody forgot while playing fewer events in his early years on tour.

The Tom Watson comparison is more interesting. They had similar win percentages at their best (11% for Watson, 9.4% for Phil), but Tom has 3 extra majors while being 5 short in total wins. What is a bit crazy to consider nowadays is Tom was credited with only 32 wins as late as 1994, none of those 5 Open wins were official at the time! The player I find is always underrated today is Arnold with 62 wins from 1955-1973. That is more impressive to me than Ben Hogan's 64 wins from 1938-1959...except for that one missing major of course.

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4 hours ago, iacas said:

And I don't think Norman counts much as a "foreign player who couldn't afford to travel to Europe or the U.S." Or Vijay.

Come on, I clearly said I was talking about when they were young.  You even quoted it.  When Phil was winning NCAA titles, he had exemptions for the asking, or maybe he didn't even have to ask, and he could take a short drive from Tempe to Tuscon to win his first PGA event on a lark.  When Vijay was a kid, he played with coconuts because he couldn't afford golf balls, and had to work his way up through the Asian Tour, the Safari Tour in Africa, and the Euro Tour before he was finally able to become a PGA rookie at age 30.  Norman apparently had a middle class childhood, but he was still working as an assistant club pro for $A38/wk at the same age as Phil was when he won his first PGA event, and he didn't join the PGA until he was 28.

4 hours ago, iacas said:

Against weaker competition. Snead might be a good #3, though, just because he has almost double the number of wins of Phil (I put Snead, truthfully, closer to 72 than 82). 

Obviously the competition was weaker the farther back you go, but there is no way to quantify it, and by the time you get to Arnie, it's risky to put too much emphasis on it.  By the time you get to Watson, let alone Norman, it's dangerous to use it for anything more than a tie-breaker.

Dominance transcends field strength.  I have no doubt that the field strength was weaker in 1980 than in 2010.  But I have very grave doubts that Tom Watson, the #1 golfer in 1980, was weaker than Lee Westwood, the #1 golfer of 2010.

A second tier player from a weak era clearly ranks below a second tier player of a strong era.  But you can't know that the best player of a weak era should rank below the best player of a strong era - he might be the golf equivalent of Bob Beamon.  And you absolutely can't know that the best player of a weak era ranks below the second or third best player of a strong era.

 

4 hours ago, iacas said:

That's going way, way too far. Phil was #2 for a loooong time, too. And to a peak-form or near-peak-form Tiger, at that.

It looks to me like playing in the Tiger era helped Phil more than it hurt him, because people remember him being #2 to Tiger for year after year, and say hey, what could he do?
 
It's yet another example of hazy memory syndrome.  Phil's been a pro for 27 years.  How many of those years do you think he was #2?  20 years? 15? 10? 

Nope, that's hazy memory.  Adding up all the weeks he was at #2 gives you a total of less than three and a half years, and the bulk of that, two stretches of over a year each, overlapped the periods that Tiger was out for six months or more --- after his broken leg in 2008, and after he hit the hydrant in 2009. 

And as I said a couple posts back, Tiger only took 4 wins away from Phil.  If Phil had those four extra wins, he would pass Hagen on the career wins list, but that's all.  He'd still be behind Casper, let alone Nelson, Palmer, Hogan, and Snead.

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5 hours ago, brocks said:

Come on, I clearly said I was talking about when they were young. You even quoted it. When Phil was winning NCAA titles, he had exemptions for the asking, or maybe he didn't even have to ask, and he could take a short drive from Tempe to Tuscon to win his first PGA event on a lark.  When Vijay was a kid, he played with coconuts because he couldn't afford golf balls, and had to work his way up through the Asian Tour, the Safari Tour in Africa, and the Euro Tour before he was finally able to become a PGA rookie at age 30.  Norman apparently had a middle class childhood, but he was still working as an assistant club pro for $A38/wk at the same age as Phil was when he won his first PGA event, and he didn't join the PGA until he was 28.

For all you know, had they played a full schedule in their earlier years, they might have been beaten down, become discouraged, and left the Tour and never amounted to what they achieved.

In other words, I prefer to rate players on what they actually achieved, on what actually happened, not conjecture and/or speculation. Just as I don't give Tiger any "credit" for the years he was injured, I can't give "credit" to Vijay or Norman for things they didn't do. Only what they did.

5 hours ago, brocks said:

Obviously the competition was weaker the farther back you go, but there is no way to quantify it, and by the time you get to Arnie, it's risky to put too much emphasis on it.  By the time you get to Watson, let alone Norman, it's dangerous to use it for anything more than a tie-breaker.

I disagree; and I use it as "more than a tiebreaker" in Jack vs. Tiger.

5 hours ago, brocks said:

Dominance transcends field strength.

I disagree.

5 hours ago, brocks said:

It looks to me like playing in the Tiger era helped Phil more than it hurt him, because people remember him being #2 to Tiger for year after year, and say hey, what could he do?

I don't feel that way. He was a top ten player for a looooooooooong time. Plus he has the wins. Plus he has the majors.

I know he wasn't actually #2 for ten straight years or something.

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