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Thread: The Major Golfers

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    The Major Golfers

    For what it's worth, the all-time Majors count after Torrey Pines. Ties separated by (1): who won 1/2/3/4 of the accepted four majors and (2) who won them over the longest period.


    THE ALL-TIME TOP 20 (UP TO, AND INCLUDING, U.S. OPEN JUNE 2008)


    1. JACK NICKLAUS (USA) 18

    2. TIGER WOODS (USA) 14

    3. BOBBY JONES (USA) 13

    4. WALTER HAGEN (USA) 11

    5. GARY PLAYER (SOUTH AFRICA) 9

    6. BEN HOGAN (USA) 9

    7. TOM WATSON (USA) 8

    8. GENE SARAZEN (USA) 7

    9. SAM SNEAD (USA) 7

    10. ARNOLD PALMER (USA) 7

    11. HARRY VARDON (ENGLAND) 7

    12. LEE TREVINO (USA) 6

    13. NICK FALDO (ENGLAND) 6

    14. BYRON NELSON (USA) 5

    15. SEVERIANO BALLESTEROS (SPAIN) 5

    16. PETER THOMSON (AUSTRALIA) 5

    17. JAMES BRAID (SCOTLAND) 5

    18. JH TAYLOR (ENGLAND) 5

    19. RAYMOND FLOYD (USA) 4

    20. JIM BARNES (USA) 4

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    The thing I think is most telling about that list is that Nicklaus beat NINE of those guys for majors. Nicklaus won majors where nine different members of that top 20 finished in the top 5. Tiger has.... zero. Can anyone reasonably argue about who beat the greater players?

    Also, Jack had a total of FORTY-FIVE top 3 finishes in majors. That's more than 11 years worth of majors where he was in the top 3 EVERY SINGLE TIME. I beleive his top 10 count is in the high 70s. The guy was ALWAYS there, all the time, for decades. And if his competition rolled over and played dead like Tiger's often does.....

    Woods may win more, but he has a long way to go to be nearly as good as Jack for as long as Jack, and he'll never (since he's already 32) have the level of great competition Jack had. That doesn't mean he isn't as great, or can't be as great, but we can call Tiger the Roy Jones of golf, where Jack is the Harry Greb. One of them beat everyone. One of them beat much lesser guys.

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    By the way, there IS a school of thought that major-counting is a bit over-rated. Before Nicklaus, number of majors won wasn't even discussed/written about regularly. But Jack publicly stated many times that he focused on the majors.

    The thing is, the regular US tour events are about the same difficulty as the majors, as the fields are quite comparable. Sometimes the major courses are toughened up, but in the end, one still has to beat all the other guys. And in the days when the US golfers dominated, then the fields at the British Open and the Canadian Open were actually not as good as the fields at the US regular tour stops. (Score one for Jack here and the greater ability of his opposition.)

    Byron Nelson won 11 consecutive tournaments and 18 total tournaments in 1945. Tell me someone winning the Grand Slam in one year (4 tournaments) would be accomplishing anything better than that. Johnny Miller opened 1975 with 3 straight victories in regular tour stops, shooting all 12 rounds in the 60s. Etc.

    Just something to think about. Of course, Nicklaus and Woods both have won scores of regular tour events, so this is moot as regards them.

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    The only way to turn this into a true exercise, IMO, with anything resembling analysis and not stats being the sole measure and backward looking stats for that matter, again, IMO, is to look at the frequency of total majors won and by whom of those majors Jack didn't win and compare the total number of major winner to Tiger's competition. This way, at least the stats and numbers indicating who won what, how many and when and why adds some meaning. It would at least then be possible to show how many majors people won when Jack was in his prime.

    I would guess that sort of examination would show fewer total 'other' guys won majors, aside from Jack in Jack's time over some 10 year stretch than those who won during Tiger's time aside from Tiger. Still, it might show nothing more than Tiger has won more frequently over the ten year stretch than Jack did in majors... so... even that is tough to rely on. Watson, Trevino, Miller, Weiskopf, Floyd, Casper etc. may have been more than dominant over the REST of the other guys, leading to them being the ''other guys'' poised most frequently to win if Jack didn't, which doesn't make them better than Goosen, Els or Phil or Vijay, just more better than their own period's other guys.

    I love Jack and am lukewarm at best about Tiger but that has a lot to do with when both played and the on-course behaviors condoned (not to mention a general lack of personalities on the current tour, of which Tiger is neither colorful or a personality aside from his dominance and drive and club tossing and demonstrative actions.. and Jack, in his time, was not one as well.)

    I disagree flatly that there is validity with a backward look at the numbers of majors won by others, thus the premise of taking Jack's comp and plopping it today or Tiger's and taking them back in time to Jack's and Arnie's and Gary's time and thinking it would bear out Mickelson or Els or Singh gets waxed by Trevino or Weiskopf or Miller. Couldn't one state: there are many more very good players now which alone explains why even dominant guys like Els and Phil lose out to Hamiltons and Ogilvys and the like? Or would the answer to that be, well, Ogilvy is no Floyd. Really? Would Floyd be Floyd now?

    In my opinion, relative performance is frozen in that era of relevance. Jack said himself Tiger is a better putter and short game player than he, and he was better off the tee.

    I will comment that I DO think I see a decline in putting prowess in general among tour players from what I saw in the early 80's.. and there is WAY too much focus on 'the swing'. A guy like Garcia ought to win multiples of majors, but he cannot consistently even decently putt which is ridiculous. A return to putting as a focus and not swing shape and microanalysis will yield a more diverse winners circle, IMO. We have an invasion of swing coaches and the like all tooling swings and power is a premium. Jack had power and could putt. Consistently well from short range especially. Tiger has a power game more erratic but is an even better putter. Strange both dominate, huh in the face of peers who either do one or neither great.

    All around game guys are rare today. Good at everything, maybe great at putting. Phil was foisted upon us as a great putter. He isn't. He is a great lag putter with a killer short game. But not a consistent medium length putter. Either is Els. Garcia is neither. Vijay has driving and putting spurts but is admittedly an 'old' player.

    I get arguments on either side of the Tiger Jack discussion. I think personally they die at their utterance however.
    Last edited by Sharkey; 06-21-2008 at 10:49 AM.

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Interesting analysis and commentary, Shark.

    A few points of disagreement, noted in all-CAPS so as to distinguish my remarks from those quoted:

    ..on-course behaviors condoned (not to mention a general lack of personalities on the current tour, of which Tiger is neither colorful or a personality aside from his dominance and drive and club tossing and demonstrative actions.. and Jack, in his time, was not one as well.--JACK WAS THE ONLY TOUR GOLFER EVER BOOED ON THE COURSE, BASICALLY BECAUSE HE CONSTANTLY BEAT PALMER, AND HE WAS OVERWEIGHT, CREW-CUT, AND DISHEVELED-LOOKING AT THE TIME (IN THE 1960s). BY THE EARLY 1970S, NICKLAUS HAD (IN ONE YEAR) TAKEN OFF THE EXTRA WEIGHT, GROWN HIS HAIR, AND WAS, TO MANY WOMEN FOLLOWING THE GAME, A SEX SYMBOL. MORE IMPORTANTLY TO ME, THE GUY WAS A CLASS ACT AND WAS KNOWN TO BE SO IN ALL CIRCLES; HIS EXPLOITS WERE WIDELY FOLLOWED AND HE WAS AN IN-DEMAND SPEAKER AND GUEST AT ALL KINDS OF BUSINESS FUNCTIONS UNRELATED TO GOLF. PEOPLE FOLLOWING HIM ON THE COURSE WERE NOT BORED AT ALL BY HIS PERSONALITY; HE WAS CLASSY, NOT A JOKESTER OR CLUB-THROWER, AND WAS LOOKED UP TO BY MOST OF THE GAME'S FOLLOWERS AND HIS OWN TOUR CONTEMPORARIES. NICKLAUS DREW THE LARGEST CROWDS ALL THE TIME, EVEN WHEN NOT IN CONTENTION, BEHIND ONLY PALMER.

    ...Jack said himself Tiger is a better putter and short game player than he, and he was better off the tee. -- EVERYONE CAN SEE THAT TIGER HAS THE BEST SHORT GAME AROUND, WHETHER IN A BUNKER OR ANYWHERE ELSE AROUND THE GREEN, WHICH JACK AND THOSE WHO OBSERVED JACK ALWAYS KNEW WASN'T HIS STRONG SUIT (HE WAS TOUR-CALIBER IN THIS AREA--COULD DO IT ALL CONCERNING SHORT GAME-- JUST WASN'T THE CREAM OF THE CROP, AS WOODS DEFINITELY IS.) JACK WAS BETTER OFF THE TEE IN THAT HE WAS AS LONG OR LONGER IN HIS DAY (CONSIDERING EQUIPMENT DIFFERENCES), AND WAS CONSIDERABLY MORE ACCURATE. JACK WAS ALSO THE BEST LONG-IRON PLAYER OF HIS TIME AND LIKELY EVER, PROBABLY THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE HE HAD VS. HIS COMPETITION. HE HIT THE 1-IRON WITH THE EASE AND ACCURACY THAT OTHERS HIT A 5-IRON. HIS MID-IRON PLAY WAS ALSO THE BEST AROUND, TALKED ABOUT RARELY BUT EMPHASIZED BY, OF ALL PEOPLE, ARNOLD PALMER IN ASSESSING JACK. I'D LIKE TO SEE WHERE NICKLAUS ACKNOWLEDGED TIGER IS A BETTER PUTTER, HOWEVER. MIGHT BE SO, BUT JACK MADE EVERY PUTT HE EVER NEEDED TO AND SANK FAMOUS ONES FROM LONG DISTANCES, AND 3-PUTT LESS THAN ANYONE, NO MATTER FROM HOW FAR AWAY. JACK DOES ACKNOWLEDGE THAT PUTTING IS NOT SO EXCITING AS THE LONG GAME, BUT IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE HE'D CONCEDE THAT ANYONE ELSE WAS A BETTER PUTTER. AT THE TOUR LEVEL, THE BEST PLAYERS HAVE TO BE THE BEST PUTTERS. AS THEY ALL HAVE LONG GAMES.

    ...I will comment that I DO think I see a decline in putting prowess in general among tour players from what I saw in the early 80's.. -- I DON'T KNOW HOW THIS IS POSSIBLE. THE SCORES ARE THE SAME NOW AS THEN.

    and there is WAY too much focus on 'the swing'.--THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN FOCUS ON THE SWING, ESP. SINCE HOGAN PLAYED IN THE 1940S. THE DIFFERENCE IS THAT TODAY, PLAYERS RELY ON "SWING COACHES" LIKE LEADBETTER, AND SEEMINGLY ARE TRANSFIXED BY THEM, AND NEEDY OF THESE COACHES EVEN AT THE TOURNAMENTS. IN JACK'S TIME, YOU PLAYED WITH THE GAME YOU BROUGHT, AND CORRECTED YOUR OWN PROBLEMS AT A TOURNAMENT.

    Jack had power and could putt. -- JACK HAD A LOT MORE THAN THAT, AS NOTED ABOVE. HE ALSO HAD FINESSE, CURVING THE BALL IN BOTH DIRECTIONS FROM GREAT DISTANCES TO SET UP KEY BIRDIES THAT WON HIM TOURNAMENTS.

    Tiger has a power game more erratic but is an even better putter. --TRUE AS TO ERRATIC, BUT I DON'T SEE THAT HE'S A BETTER PUTTER THAN JACK, JUST THAT HE GETS IT CLOSER FROM OFF THE GREEN WITH HIS AMAZING SHORT GAME.

    Strange both dominate, huh in the face of peers who either do one or neither great. -- ALL THE PLAYERS ON TOUR, THEN AS NOW, HAD COMPLETE GAMES. NO ONE COULD MAKE IT ON TOUR WHO DIDN'T HAVE ALL THE SHOTS. MAYBE A SLIGHTLY SHORTER HITTER MAKES UP FOR IT WITH AN AMAZING SHORT GAME (LIKE DAVE STOCKTON OR COREY PAVIN), BUT BOTH HAD TOUR-LEVEL LONG GAMES BESIDES. THEY WERE ONLY AT DISADVANTAGES TO THEIR PEERS ON EXTREMELY LONG COURSES.

    All around game guys are rare today. --THEY ALL HAVE "ALL-AROUND GAMES," THAT'S WHY THEY ALL BREAK PAR SO REGULARLY.
    Last edited by Michael Frank; 06-21-2008 at 01:06 PM.

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Great thread, this - gives me a welcome chance to write about a game I have adored since I don't know when.

    I used to produce a monthly ranking of the world's top golfers for Golf Monthly in 1982 (yes, me dear lads, the wheel HAD been invented by then).

    It was before the official rankings came into force - the top players were judged by the annual money earnings in those days. So I wrote to Mark McCormack, the Royal & Ancient and the USGA to suggest an official ranking system.

    Oh dear, they said, we can't possibly do anything like that. And then the bastards did - two months later.

    Not that I'm paranoid about it, mind you - I just think everyone's out to get me!!

    On a serious note, Mr Frank, please write to me privately - if you should feel so inclined - and give me your general thoughts on golf.

    Mike C

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    i just added this on other golf thread, but thought it also applied to this discussion:

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Frank
    There are so many to add from the 1960s-80s, in terms of talent over Tiger's comp and an unwillingnesss to concede anything to anybody. I named most of the above already (thanks for reiterating them), but here are a bunch more, all multi-winners and top 10 on the money list at least once in Jack's time except for Sam Snead:

    Sam Snead (still competitive in the 1960s/70s)
    Ben Crenshaw
    Tom Kite
    Tony Lema
    Lanny Wadkins
    Fuzzy Zoeller
    Seve Ballesteros
    Bruce Crampton
    George Archer
    Dave Stockton
    Greg Norman
    Nick Faldo
    Nick Price
    David Graham
    Al "Mr. 59" Geiberger
    Bruce Lietzke
    Jerry Pate
    Scott Simpson
    Craig Stadler
    Hubert Green
    John Mahaffey
    Sweet Lou Graham
    Miller "Mr. X" Barber
    Dave "Mr. Outpoken" Hill
    Julius Boros
    Dave Marr
    Dave Eichelberger
    Bobby Nichols
    Charles Coody
    J.C. Snead
    Tommy Aaron
    Frank Beard
    Gay Brewer
    Gene Littler (overcame cancer to win mucho tourneys)
    Bert Yancey
    Phil Rogers
    Bill Rogers
    Bob Rosburg
    Larry Nelson
    Andy Bean
    Curtis Strange
    Mark Hayes
    Jim "Mr. Senior Tour" Colbert (also good on the regular tour)
    Don January
    Chi Chi Rodriguez

    A few of these overlapped both eras, but were dominated first by Jack.
    i just added this on other golf thread, but thought it also applied to this discussion:

    michael frank... I will say this in regards to a nod to the modern pga tour player, in regards to the lower tier (outside the top 30), I would say they are better then jack's era.

    the equipt advancements, along w/ the lucrative cash line in the sport (wh/ allows even the 50th best player to still pull in 300-500k a year w/ sponsorships, appearances etc thrown in) allows these players to stay afloat & invest the time into a higher level game. In jack's era, if you couldnt stay in the top 40, you might as well been working on the factory line at Ford in regards to what you were making. At best those guys were scraping by at about 50k a year.

    however, in the rarified level (top 20) where it truely takes the mental toughness edge to elevate to that echelon, I think hogan thru jacks era, head to head were better, perhaps much better.

    look at the top 10 35-40 years ago, those guys were so much more hard edged then the current soft level of top 10 on the tour today (w/ the exception of course of tiger & sometimes els). mickelson has been such a disappointment in my book. why do you think arnold, jack & gary have to grit
    their teeth in not dropping the hammer on him verbally. at times it does justifibly leak out, & when it does it always points to their major disappointment in the way he doesnt get mentally tough nor smarter in learning from his mistakes.

    bottomline, hes just too complacent & that comes down to the fact that his inferior level of game (to the past generation) can still reap him 50 mill a year (when you throw in sponsorship etc). inflation adjusted (wh/ is about a 5 to 1 ratio to the 60's) even the elites in jack's era couldnt come anywhere close to 10 mill a year. At their primes Jack & Arnie may have made that, but they had to start their own business ventures to get that. And by the way that cost Jack, when some of his stuff went belly up in the late '70's. daly, els, mick, sergio & a few more make 10-50+ mill w/o any of their own entreprenuer risk driven ventures.

    as far as your list, some of those justifiably should've been added, but some of those guys had a little softness themselves or just didnt have the skills of some of the players today.

    i always thought crenshaw was a little too soft. he didnt seem, at least in his prime (like miller, but miller was more talented) to invest the time into upping his level of his game. w/ hogan's drive, crenshaw wouldve won 3-5 more majors. ditto miller.

    good point about kite. I shouldve added him. an oldschool grinder. certainly got the most out of his game. many today could learn a lot following his lead.

    wadkins good add too.

    lema, seemed also not to focus enough.

    grahm, jan., nelson, littler & green right on the border. probaly shouldve been included.

    fuzzy, norman, seve, price, strange & faldo were right at the very end of jacks era, so i didnt throw them in.

    fuzzy great natural talent, too much of a babyboomer partier, a milked down daly, wasted his potential also. Norman, I always liked. I think he certainly gave the game all he had, he was truely snakebit imo, so much so, i think it doomed him to a degree. seve, great talent, but injuries & perhaps temper cost his potential. price got the most of his game, very well respected, imo a notch below all time great though. strange for a window high level, but then seemed to implode, not an all-timer imo. faldo a great player, worked his ass off & had a lot of charisma, as important to the popularity of the game right before tiger as norman, imo an all time great.

    you left out couples, who to me eptomizes the modern player. great natural talent, some of the best of all time. However imo very soft mentally. never burned to take his skills to the level it shouldve went. he shouldve had 8 majors maybe more w/ his God given skills.

    stockton, archer, pate, simpson, coody, brewer, geiberger, hill, marr, boros, nichols, colbert, yancy, hayes, bean, roseburg.... all very good players. But i dont think they stand out enough to put them above the top 5-7 sub tiger today, only on par w/.

    finally, chi chi is in his own category. maximized his skills. very good charitable man & super charisma. aside from arnie, in his era, he may have brought more of the avg amer men into the game then anyone. on tourny achievements alone i wouldnt put him over top 10 today, however in any other category a legend.
    Last edited by HandToMouth; 06-21-2008 at 01:50 PM.

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Great, Hand To Mouth. Boy, you know your stuff!

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Quote Originally Posted by HandToMouth
    fuzzy, norman, seve, price, strange & faldo were right at the very end of jacks era, so i didnt throw them in.

    you left out couples, who to me eptomizes the modern player. great natural talent, some of the best of all time. However imo very soft mentally. never burned to take his skills to the level it shouldve went. he shouldve had 8 majors maybe more w/ his God given skills.
    Hand,

    I agree with your specific comments all, except for:

    "fuzzy, norman, seve, price, strange & faldo were right at the very end of jacks era, so i didnt throw them in." -- My reply would be, "But Jack beat each of these guys more than once, so they were in his era. Seve, Fuzzy and Strange all peaked during Nicklaus's era, and in fact started their declines during his decline."

    You noticed I omitted Couples. To me, he truly came after Nicklaus's era, and secondly, boy was he soft mentally as you note. Love his swing, but his casual demeanor seemed to reflect a casualness toward winning. Though, truth be told, I liked it better than Tiger and his freaking fist pumps. Any douchebag (to borrow a phrase from a CBZ thread) can pump his fist like that all the time, but the champion golfers over the last hundred years have always avoided doing that (belying an emotion that doubtless was in their hearts), because it was bush league and considered beneath golf. Imagine that, a sense of decorum.

    Then, Tiger comes along pumping his fists, and his fans seem to love it.

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Frank
    Hand,

    I agree with your specific comments all, except for:

    "fuzzy, norman, seve, price, strange & faldo were right at the very end of jacks era, so i didnt throw them in." -- My reply would be, "But Jack beat each of these guys more than once, so they were in his era. Seve, Fuzzy and Strange all peaked during Nicklaus's era, and in fact started their declines during his decline."

    You noticed I omitted Couples. To me, he truly came after Nicklaus's era, and secondly, boy was he soft mentally as you note. Love his swing, but his casual demeanor seemed to reflect a casualness toward winning. Though, truth be told, I liked it better than Tiger and his freaking fist pumps. Any douchebag (to borrow a phrase from a CBZ thread) can pump his fist like that all the time, but the champion golfers over the last hundred years have always avoided doing that (belying an emotion that doubtless was in their hearts), because it was bush league and considered beneath golf. Imagine that, a sense of decorum.

    Then, Tiger comes along pumping his fists, and his fans seem to love it.
    michael... jack's longevity was amazing... your right, i didnt even realize he outlasted fuzzy & strange's primes, that is impressive.

    I think it gets overlooked that jack had a very strong body... sure he carried a belly, but the guy wasnt soft physically. He was VERY strong waist down. a barkley butt & full back legs... neither were flab. his forearms shoulder also very strong. its amazing his back held up w/ all the torgue he put on it.


    tiger's fist pump is more a product of his mass media espn highlight driven times. culture does have its impact, even on golfers, at least some. remember by the time tiger was 10, michael jackson the king of pop was already blantantly grabbing his crouch on stage. that type of mass pop culture influence does have its effect.

    sure tiger is a mixture of arrogance, aloofness at times, profanity & a brattish entitlement vibe... but I would contend the guy has matured a lot. he's handled the pain of his father's passing w/ grace & over the last 3-4 years his aloofness to others in the sport as receded. he's been very gracious to other players in a seemingly sincere manner, rocco being the lastest ex.

    tiger's works also in trying to help kids out has to be saluted imo.

    finally, in re to couples. again, epitomy of the pampered undriven modern player. hogan wouldve chewed his ass up if he had been around to see what couples did w/ that type of natural talent. even though couples is a latter baby boomer, he reminds me much more of a generation x slacker. that mentality has sadly seeped into many today. again, more then anything its the easy $. look at davis love, another couples clone.
    Last edited by HandToMouth; 06-21-2008 at 06:36 PM.

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Quote Originally Posted by HandToMouth
    tiger's fist pump is more a product of his mass media espn highlight driven times. culture does have its impact, even on golfers, at least some. remember by the time tiger was 10, michael jackson the king of pop was already blantantly grabbing his crouch on stage. that type of mass pop culture influence does have its effect.
    All true, but still, no one else in golf does it.

    And no one did it in the 1970s-80s, when in other sports we had spiking of footballs in the end zone, low-fives, hi-fives, NY Giant players dancing at mid-field after their 1986/87 Super Bowl victory, Gatorade baths for coaches . . . yet no fist pumps in golf, or much emotion beyond a tipping of the cap, a wave, or a smile. Which appealed so much to me, because it was different. Seemed classy, the way the VERY BEST running backs didn't spike the ball after scoring touchdowns, as "they'd been there before."

    Actually, there was the occasional fist pump in golf for something extraordinary, but the only one I remember seeing was on a video of the 1986 Masters, when Gary Player did so after a hole-in-one...during the pre-tournament charity round. Even Player was not so demonstrative in actual competition.

    Different generations, as you say. But also Tiger feels he's different, IMO.

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Sharks - interesting post. One thing I would point out in refute is that in Jack's day there were very few Shawn Micheels winning majors. The winners were almost always established stars. The cream literally rose to the top. there were cocasional exceptions, but the major winners didnt read like the Hooter's Tour money list.

    And one thing I would say you had slightly off Michael, is that majors weren't a big yardstick prior to Nicklaus. I think Nicklaus's esteem of the slam events elevated it, but it was Palmer a few years before Nicklaus that originated the modern grand slam. I think it is true when evaluating the Sneads and Hogans that you can't really measure them by majors, because the big four weren't the big four then - they were just four top events. The year Hogan won the Masters, US and British Opens he didn't even play in the PGA (electing to take a cruise home from the British Isles and relax rather than fly and play in the PGA).

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Everyone for the most part makes valid points and critiques. The point of my post was not about getting granular or to delving deeply or comprehensively. Rather, it was an observation that the 'starting point' of analysis in a Tiger v. Jack, Era v. Era conversation ought to, imo, focus more on why raw numbers are what they are, rather than taking raw numbers 'as is'...especially when Tiger's raw numbers allegedly are not sufficient to prove his superiority to Jack... but Watson's numbers make him better than Phil, for example.

    And then, TKO drove home the point I referred to regarding Micheels and Beams and etc.. there WERE fewer one hit wonders in the Jack days. But, does that mean anythign more than there MAY have been a dominant golfer with 5 or 6 or 7 dominant other guys and the rest were further back in the aptitude scale.

    As for my high level assessment of JAck and Tiger.. it was not supposed to be anythign other than bland and general so I am not sure what was beng disagreed with.

    And, all around game doesn't not mean all players can chip putt and hit sand shots well. It means relative to others, at this time, there are very few non-power players, and many power players have severe deficits in their games relative to their one strength. Scoring would not reflect all around game, it would reflect scoring... which may mean today's guys are even better at their two or three strongest points of their game than guys from days gone by.

    It is not about can today's guys putt as well as the men from long ago given greens are faster, or chip and pitch as well given rough is allegedly thicker, or that scoring averages are relatively similar thus today's players must then be all very good at putting. That does not follow logically, but rather is an assumption or perhaps a rejection of the granular analysis necessary and used by some on one hand but not the other.

    I don't think I needed to state Jack could do more than hit the ball far and putt well. If so, I would offer that I indeed know a bit more about golf than that. However, it is useful to, when generalizations and off-hand assumptions on raw numbers are used to support an aargument, to break things downthen as simply as possible, THEN get granular.

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Sharkey, o.k., points taken.

    TKO-- You probably know this issue more than I do, of when the Slam events became counted and important, and if they were so before Nicklaus (via Palmer, as you noted). Yet the first Grand Slam winner (in diffferent seasons, as with all the others) was Gene Sarazan. And no doubt, by the way, Hogan and Sarazen WERE playing against fields not as strong as in Jack's and Tiger's day--you can see it in the scoring averages, and the differential between the low-scoring pros and the others.

    I seem to recall that Nicklaus mentioned in the video on his entire career ("March Through The Majors") that a reporter broached the Jones # of majors to him around 1970 or so, and he said this was the first time he had thought of it. YET, he ALWAYS focused his scheduling around the majors, pretty much from his 1962 rookie year on. No real point being made here by me.

    Except, as to what some others have appropriately noted in this thread previously, Jack wasn't really shooting for a record--by his own words, he was nearly upon it by the time he'd even thought of it. But Tiger had Jack's number in mind from his 1st year on tour, which I think we all believe to be an advantage in his quest to beat it.

    The first golfer to win them all was Sarazen, then Ben Hogan, THEN Gary Player; Nicklaus completed his the year after (1966) Player completed his (1965). Then Tiger Woods.

    And Jack and Tiger are the only two to have more than one Slam--won each Slam tourney twice or more. They EACH have TRIPLE Slams.

    Wow.

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Sharks - I would also point out that when comparing Woods and Nicklaus, there is one HUGE difference in their games - 100 yards in. I don't care what Jack says, Tiger is not a better putter - he may be AS GOOD, but not better. Nicklaus NEVER had a short game. NEVER.

    Lee Trevino used to say that if Nicklaus only had learned to use a wedge, he would have been utterly unbeatable. Jack himself has said that he never really bothered much with the short game because he hit so many greens in regulation. And (also Jack's words) when he missed one, he could generally scrape it onto the green around 10 feet or so, and he invariably made his putt. Only in 1980 at the age of 40 (and with a bunker conversion rate of 35%) did he solicit short game training, from Phil Rogers.

    Jack with a full swing was THE man. I have seen Tiger from day 1 and he just ain't Jack. Nicklaus's power game was the most breathtaking thing I'd ever seen. The guy could hit a one iron from the fairway that was so high, so far and came so straight down he could have stopped it on the hood of a car. Does that make him better than Tiger? No, but it means they had a greatly different grab bag of attributes and at the end of the day they were ALWAYS the man to beat in their era.

    The greatness issues at this point still comes own to who they beat and how. Is it an impossible thing to quantify? Maybe. And Tiger is far from through. At the end of the day the only thing I feel 100% confident of is that Jack will have been greater longer than Woods, though Woods may break every record in the book over the next half decade or so. But that alone will likely not be enough to tip the scales, as nobody really weights that with the Slammer, who continued to win into his 50s, and in the 1963 Masters actually had a to-the-wire duel with a youngster named JW Nicklaus.... and at the age of 62 damn near won the PGA Championship.
    Last edited by TKO11; 06-24-2008 at 07:35 AM.

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Cliff,

    I cannot disagree, nor am I disagreeing. I think this is more a 'feel' argument than one determiend by raw numbers.

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    I agree with the guy who compared Tiger with Larry Holmes. He beat everyone out there in his era and can't be faulted for peaking at a fallow time in the sport.

    As far as Jack being the only guy booed, I personally observed other guys of admittedly less renown getting it in the neck from galleries. Hubie Green and J.C. Snead come to mind.

    Attempts to analyze athletes from different areas "scientifically": always kinda comical. All we need is a jar of pickled eggs and some sawdust on the floor...

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    When were Hubie and J.C. booed, and why? Did they have some banter with the gallery that offended someone (as both were known to talk with the galleries)?

    I DO know that Jack did nothing to warrant the booing except play well against Palmer.

    Also, I realize that there has been a generational change, what with significant misbehavior of "fans" in recent years, such as at the Ryder Cup both in the US and in Europe, which has been terrible. And the verbal abuse some players have endured at other times, such as Colin Montgomery when in the US, at times--just inexcusable. So I guess I should have mentioned Jack's run-ins relative to their era, when fans actually, pretty uniformly, showed respect for the golfers.

    This was still true in Hubie's/J.C's era, so I am quite curious as to the circumstances, DScribeDC.

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Nicklaus wasn't just booed, he was harrassed beyond belief. Galleries would scream when he went to hit to try to throw him off. People would throw golf balls at him while he putted. In the 1969 PGA Championship he was charged and he took off after the fans that charged him with his putter raised like a Samaurai sword. The guy had to deal with the wrost possible playing conditions.

    Even the media was into it. What other player was saddled with nicknames like Fat Jack, Ohio Fats and Blobbo in the newspapers? Palmer was loved - he was a good looking, gregarious everyman. nicklaus was loathed - he was the boy of priveledge, who was standoffish, unnattractive and had a reedy, nasal voice and almost no charisma.

    But he learned - got slim, changed his style, forced himself to talk to the media dn eventually became good at it. But still, if he played with Palmer, he was a 22 year old kid again. I think it was Jerry Pate, who as a rookie in 1976 played in a tournament round with Nicklaus and Palmer. He said that Jack would nail it 2 feet from the hole and Palmer would drop it in a pot bunker, and the gallery only applauded politely for Jack and screamed approval for Arnie's much worse shot. Even after 15 years, Jack saw that he just wasnt approved of. Nobody took the abuse from galleries and media like Jack did in this sport.

    By 1980, he was legend and Arnie was pretty much done. Suddenly Jack was a beloved figure. But it took that long.

    Speaking of Hubert Green, I still say he had the single greatest golf quip ever, at the 1977 British Open. Nicklaus shot 68-70-65-66 to Watson's 68-70-65-65 for Watson to win by a shot. In third place, ten shots behind Nicklaus, was Hubert Green in third. When asked how he felt about the event, he stated, "Well... at least I won the 'B' Flight...."
    Last edited by TKO11; 06-24-2008 at 01:03 PM.

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Frank
    When were Hubie and J.C. booed, and why? Did they have some banter with the gallery that offended someone (as both were known to talk with the galleries)?

    I DO know that Jack did nothing to warrant the booing except play well against Palmer.

    Also, I realize that there has been a generational change, what with significant misbehavior of "fans" in recent years, such as at the Ryder Cup both in the US and in Europe, which has been terrible. And the verbal abuse some players have endured at other times, such as Colin Montgomery when in the US, at times--just inexcusable. So I guess I should have mentioned Jack's run-ins relative to their era, when fans actually, pretty uniformly, showed respect for the golfers.

    This was still true in Hubie's/J.C's era, so I am quite curious as to the circumstances, DScribeDC.
    I wish I could enlighten you. I never quite understood it myself. Best explanation I got was from some guy who said "J.C. just ain't popular around here..." Yeah, Monty is a great example of recent misbehavior. That guy took brutal abuse.

    Generally, I've always been amazed at the manners of golf galleries. Name me one other sporting event where you can ask paying ticket buyers for silence and get it.

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Green's line was funny. I liked one from Nicklaus, which I read in that wonderful Dick Schaap book about the 1974 US Open, "Massacre at Winged Foot." Played at what is still the toughest US Open course layout ever. Winning score was +7, 2nd place was +11.

    Jack was asked by a reporter around the 2nd day "if these are the toughest finishing holes you've ever seen"? He replied, "Yeah, the last eighteen are very difficult."

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    I remember reading all about that. They USGA went way overboard, making the course brutally hard, after Johnny Miller had shot 63 in the final round the previous year. On his 1st hole of the event, Nicklaus drove it in the fairway, put his second on the green, and watched in horror as his birdie putt missed the hole and rolled 20 yards back into the fairway - and he failed to get it up and down, registering a double on the first hole of the event.

    Hale Irwin (that year's winner) is one of the guttiest golfers ever. He'd be someone you would pick to win that one....

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Yes, and a young Tom Watson was the leader going into Sunday, after which he faltered to something like a 78. He earned the "choker" tag after that, and a year later, at the L.A. Open, Irwin again caught Watson on the final day to beat him.

    Once Watson won the 1975 British Open in a playoff with Jack Newton, his reputation began to shine, and he became the world's best player from about 1977-82, about 6 years of dominance.

    Did it the hard way, with a lot of work.

    P.S. - Watson, small as he was (but with large forearms as so many PGA players have), won the 1969 NCAA long-driving contest at something over 290 yards. Not bad, with wooden clubs.

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Cliff,

    "They" scoffed at the notion that this, Winged Foot, was payback for Miller's brilliant round. Whazzhizname (forgot the guy) claimed if you could not hit a straight drive to a 30 yard wide target you were not going to blame the course conditions.

    Also, when asked if the course was set the way it was to humble the best players in the world, whozawhatzit stated, "no it will reveal who they are".

    Of course, Miller believes it was payback. As it was, Oakmont was tougher than hell as well when Miller went bananas and scorched it.

    As for Irwin, I always had him among my favorites when he was a regular Tour guy, but I never liked his claim that he won that one at Winged Foot because he alone was not whining.. and he was mentally tougher than everyone else that week due to his college football background and nose to the grindstone ethic. May be true, but how in hell does he know and why say something like that?

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Am I the only one annoyed at the way Miller, in his commentary, brings the discussion back to his "miracle round" at Oakmont? I mean, crap, enough already...

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Tremendous thread - utterly enjoyable from a bunch of guys who know their golf every which way.

    The erudite Michael F does Tom Watson - the wonderful Kansas City Kid - every justice.

    But I tell you DC - much as I loved prime time Johnny Miller - Mister 'two majors' really does crow quite unbearably about that Oakmont 63.

    Johnny should have won much more - and he knows it.

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Funny, while I admittedly don't watch many golf telecasts nowadays, I have never heard Johnny Miller discuss his 63. Not ever.

    And I never heard him blame the 1974 course setup and difficulty on his 63 the year before. Everyone else said it at the time, but I didn't hear him say it--then or more recently.

    I don't doubt what you guys say, but I must be watching the wrong channel when he does this. Because I'd like to hear him talk about that round and some others of his! Notably, when he played with a 19 y.o. Seve, the leader at the 1976 British Open, and won easily on the last day over Ballesteros and everyone else, pulling a little gamesmanship by refusing to talk with Seve during the round. Something out of Ty Cobb's book.
    Last edited by Michael Frank; 06-24-2008 at 10:18 PM.

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    ive got mixed views on miller...

    as far as his announcing skills, i actually find it very refreshing. Golf announcers, aside from some of the acerbic brits, are far too many times bland. jim nance like company liners, w/ a veneer of false praise. miller's caustic honesty on the other hand is refreshing. his humor also has a certain twisted sarcasm to it wh/ has grown on me. he's not as jovial as the also sarcastic faldo, but he's also a little more blunt wh/ again is refreshing in this too often, kid glove broadcasting style wh/ seems to permeate the usa broadcasting of it.

    in re to his career, miller is a hard case to figure. he wasnt as mentally soft as couples, but he certainly wasnt as driven or as persistent & sustaining as a peer like tom kite.

    early on, back to his young teens, he was as gifted a talent as tiger. won the us amateur at 16, then amazingly, at the age of 18, as a freshmcan in college, he got 8th place in the us open! by 25, he had his first major. thru '76 he pressed nicklaus more consistently perhaps then any other golfer in jack's prime (imo watson overtook jack, when jack was on the downside of his prime). he made jack step up his game.

    what was strange was his demise. he lost his putter & then just seemed to mentally phase out until a later brief resurgance in the early '80's. he was still very young when he lost his way in the late '70's so its hard to understand why he didnt do more to get his form back, esp when it was putting that was the main culprit. putting is a part of the game, at least when your young that seemingly one could get a hold on.

    My quess is he may have been mentally burned out from so much early success and the stress that went w/ it. Sort of like bjorn borg in tennis. why it happened to him & doesnt happen to others like nicklaus & tiger is a hard call.

    miller came up from a wealthier background then both & made big money early. perhaps he just didnt have that burning need at least in his late 20's to have to prove to himself & others that he could indeed maxamize & sustain his talents. or it just may have been mental burnout.

    I feel it was more the latter, b/c when you listen to miller, you get a sense that the guy is competitive & not one to lose fire, like a couples or davis love seemed to have.

    I agree w/ others, i do think he wishes he could have 1977-1981 back again to not have let his game slip so much. he did have that brief resurgance from '81-'84, but it was spottier & he wasnt the leading talent he was in his prime. his body had changed & he lost that rangy flexibility & fluidity that combined w/ a guy who was also physically very strong and in good shape in his prime. think a more fluid norman for the type of build and power miller had in his prime.

    whatever did happen in the late '70's, if Miller couldve righted that ship then & not let it pass him by for 3-4 years, I do see him w/ 5-8 majors. he had that type of talent. That probaly does bother him, but he also probaly realizes so much of the battle at that level is the mental edge & the quandry in maintaining it. It isnt close to being easy. he had some great years & i'm sure his pride in that helps heal the rest. It also just goes to show how amazing jack was mentally in being able to sustain his greatness for so long. Miller's push in jack's latter prime helped sustain that inner fire in jack it seems. that too is something miller can look back on w/ pride.
    Last edited by HandToMouth; 06-25-2008 at 01:58 AM.

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    Johnny Miller

    I think Miller is greatly misunderstood. But I have been a gigantic fan of his as long as I can remember, and have read everything I could find about him.

    Johnny never planned to be a professional golfer until he contended in the '66 Open (if you can call it that - there was Palmer and Casper, and then everyoine else was battling for third). He says that week he finally understood that he might be good enough to make it out there.

    But he was still filled with self-doubts about whether he was good enough. by the 1973 Open he had a few wins, and had shown flashes of brilliance, but nothing consistent. Then he had his magical day at Oakmont and everything changed for him. Suddenly he realized that not only was he good enough, he was probably the best player out there if he could gain some consistency. So he worked on it....

    Over the break between the '73 and '74 seasons, he discovered a coupl eof swing keys that would change his game. He found that with these cahnges he could swing basically as hard as he wanted and still make consistent good contact. He developed this swing to the point where he knew on the range what his day was going to be like - he always said when he really had the swing working he got the "straights" - no fade, no draw, just a dart that went directly from his clubface to the target.

    Everyone knows that his 1974 season was Tiger-esque. He won 8 times, and in half of those events he won by 8 or more shots. It got to the point where he was accosted in the clubhouse by several players who tried to get him to ease up - if he had an event in the bag (4 shot lead with 4 to go, lets say) to stop shooting at the pins and embarrassing everyone. Miller says he replied that he'd would rahter have a 10 shot lead on the 18th tee than a 9 shot lead, because who knows if he might have a 12 waiting for him on that hole. Personally, I think he's right - the goal in golf is to win, but the most effective way of doing that is by shooting the lowest number you are capable of.

    Now despite his success, Miller was still doubtful that he was the man everyone thought he was - that his success may just be getting lucky a bunch of times. In the meantime, his wife Linda was cranking out kids like there was no tomorrow and the domestic pull was getting to him. Add to that the fact that with the rip Johnny took for his full swings (there have ben few players ever that swung as consistently HARD as Johnny did) and if he didnt get the appropriate range time, his repetition would suffer. And Linda let him know in no uncertain terms that she wanted him to be a good father more than she wanted him to be a good golfer.

    So Johnny literally let it slide. He knew what he was doing - by not hitting his 500 balls a day, his game would suffer, but he wanted to be the husband and dad his family needed him to be. I give him full praise for that.

    Not everyone is married to Barbara Nicklaus - a woman who will say, "I'll take care of the home front - you just go be the best you can be at what you love." Very few women like that in the world. And not that many guys who are so driven to succeed that they are willing to miss the domestic stuff with their kids that we all love. Jack made that sacrifice for a long time - Johnny didn't. And his record, though impressive, isnt nearly what it could have been had he decided to maximize his potential. He decided NOT to. I say, good for him.

    As a commentator, he is my favorite bar none. There is Johnny Miller and then there is everyone else. His experience, his wit and his nature to say precisely what he thinks make him a blessing to his network, and add a great deal to the enjoyment of the telecasts. I understand he is note veryone's cup of tea, but I think the guy is great, and worthy of respect.

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    Re: The Major Golfers

    Miller usually doesn't bring up his round..... his commentating partner does. Makes Johnny out to be like Ray Jay Johnson, as if it's his one thing the audience waits for.

    I like Johnny Miller as a commentator and appreciate his take on things... but his commentating lends itself to walking the fine line between honest, blunt and fresh, and presumptive, petty and silly.

    Peter Alliss was always my favorite (and Renton), but a Union Jack accent does not necessarily a commentator make.

    And I like McCord and find Feherty trivial..so draw your own conclusions.

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