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Old 03-15-2015, 03:57 PM   #1
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Golden Bear vs Tiger

Everyone knows that Jack Nicklaus has won 18 Majors and Tiger Woods has won 14 Majors. I do not look at it that way. The way I see it, the total is Nicklaus 15 to Woods 14.

Nicklaus won the US Open in his first year as a professional in 1962. In the 18 years 1962 thru 1979 Nicklaus won 15 Majors.

Woods won the Masters in 1997 his first full year as a professional. In the 18 years 1997 thru 2014 Woods won 14 majors.

In his 19th year Nicklaus won 2 more Majors, so his total goes to 17. Woods in this his 19th year does not look good for closing the gap based on his play so far this year.

Looking at the winners of the Majors, during the first 14 years for Nicklaus,
29 different players won Majors. 22 different players won 1 Major, 6 players won at least 2 Majors (a total of 20) and Nicklaus won 14.

During the first 14 years for Woods, 32 different players won Majors. 24 different players won 1 Major, 7 players won at least 2 Majors (a total of 18) and Woods won 14.

The big difference in 29 players winning in Nicklaus era versus 32 players in the Woods era is the fact that Gary Player won 6 Majors and Lee Trevino won 5 Majors and there were no players in the Woods era that won as many.

During the first 18 years for Nicklaus, 37 different players won Majors. 25 different players won 1 Major, 11 players won at least 2 Majors (a total of 32) and Nicklaus won 15.

During the first 18 years for Woods, 41 different players won Majors. 30 different players won 1 Major, 10 players won at least 2 Majors (a total of 28) and Woods won 14.

The number of players winning Majors are not much different for the 18 years period for each player (Nicklaus vs Woods). This is the first set of data, so no big conclusions at this point.

For the next data set, my equations for calculating a season rating was modified to calculate a rating for each Major and then an overall rating in the Majors.
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Old 03-15-2015, 08:08 PM   #2
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I modified my equations for calculating a season rating to calculate a rating for each Major tournament and then an overall rating in the Majors. The strokes per round calculation had to be changed. The calculation was changed to compare the stroke average of the player in each Major they played to the stroke average of the winners in those tournaments. The money was changed to credit the player with 18% of the money for a first place, 10.8% of the money for second place, 6.8% for each third place finish, 5.4% for a fourth place finish, and so on for a money value (this is still a work in progress so the values given will change to some degree). The other factors are unchanged.

There are 19 players that started in the 1950s thru 2014 that have won at least 3 Majors. The following table shows the rating for 18 of those players who have played in at least some Majors for 18 years. Nicklaus and Tom Watson are the only two player who played in all 72 possible Majors in his 18 year period. Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els each only missed one tournament.

Jack Nicklaus 108.65 with 15 Majors
Tiger Woods 93.40 with 14 Majors
Gary Player 66.21 with 8 Majors
Arnold Palmer 65.55 with 7 Majors
Tom Watson 65.11 with 8 Majors
Phil Mickelson 49.93 with 4 Majors
Lee Trevino 48.41 with 6 Majors
Nick Faldo 47.39 with 5 Majors
Billy Casper 42.36 with 3 Majors
Seve Ballesteros 41.82 with 5 Majors
Ernie Els 41.30 with 3 Majors
Raymond Floyd 39.28 with 4 Majors
Hale Irwin 36.18 with 3 Majors
Payne Stewart 33.00 with 3 Majors
Vijay Singh 32.13 with 3 Majors
Nick Price 31.51 with 3 Majors
Padraig Harrington 24.32 with 3 Majors
Larry Nelson 22.71 with 3 Majors

In general, a player with more Majors that ranks lower than a player with less Majors is because the player has a tournament in which they played very poorly. Lee Trevino has a very poor record in the Masters and Seve Ballesteros has a very poor record in the US Open and the PGA.

The 19th player with at least 3 Majors is Rory McIlroy with 4 in a 6 year period, and cannot be compared to the other players.

However, if I make the calculation for Nicklaus, Woods and McIlroy at 6 years the following are the ratings.

Tiger Woods 73.73
Jack Nicklaus 72.69
Rory McIlroy 43.67

The following are the rating for Nicklaus and Woods at various years

Jack Nicklaus 6 yr 72.69, 12 yr 93.55, 14 yr 103.22, 18 yr 108.65, 19 yr 115.89

Tiger Woods 6 yr 73.72, 12 yr 97.18, 14 yr 96.36, 18 yr 93.40, 19 yr to be determined

Tiger Woods rating was higher than Nicklaus until the 14th year. Unless Tiger wins more Majors he will continue to fall further behind.
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Old 03-16-2015, 09:38 AM   #3
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They played at different times. Jack is done. His number is posted. It is interesting to see how they got where they are but ...

Tiger is compiling his numbers now not then.

I would have originally predicted Tiger passing Jack but at this point I think that Tiger is done physically and more importantly mentally. To me an important sign is that he is not playing Bay Hill. Seems unlikely that he will play the Masters without tournament work.

A whole new crop of young players are making him irrelevant. Seemingly his only relevance is his race to 19 majors.

I also find that Walter Hagan gets the short end in these discussions. He had no Masters , and played before modern air travel , So he was only able to play 2 or 3 majors a year. And he had to play them against Booby Jones for many of those years.
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Old 03-16-2015, 10:17 AM   #4
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Walter Hagen is one of my favorite players in history. Guy broke all the rules and was classy as hell doing it. Driving limos to the first tee, changing in the parking lot because they wouldn't let him in the clubhouse - he was a real life Leonardo DiCaprio movie.

Jack was never as dominant as Tiger was during Tiger's best stretch of golf, but Jack lasted a lot longer than Tiger did. If 2000 Tiger played 1971-72 Jack, Tiger would win, because was as good of an athlete as anyone in the world at that time. But Tiger's peak was basically seven years, from 1999 to 2006 (he did win two majors after 2006, but his era of dominance was over by then). Jack dominated the mid-60's and early-70's, and then kept competing at a high level even when his best stuff was behind him.
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Old 03-16-2015, 03:17 PM   #5
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Two things I'd like to see:
1. Tiger playing with the equipment of Jacks era.
2. Jack playing with the equipment of Tigers era.
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Old 03-16-2015, 05:55 PM   #6
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Two things I'd like to see:

1. Tiger competes with players(in their prime) of Jack's era in the same golf courses that they played.

2. Jack(in his prime) competes with the players of Tiger's era in the same golf courses that they played.

I know it's impossible...just the same as it's impossible to compare the two.
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Last edited by dangerbob; 03-17-2015 at 06:01 AM.
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Old 03-17-2015, 09:06 AM   #7
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Looking at the players who won their Majors (minimum of 3 Majors) over the longest time span, the list is as follows.

Jack Nicklaus won 18 Majors in 25 year period.
Gary Player won 9 Majors in a 20 year period.
Ernie Els won 4 Majors in a 19 year period.
Raymond Floyd won 4 Majors in an 18 year period.
Lee Trevino won 6 Majors in a 17 year period.
Hale Irwin won 3 Majors in a 17 year period.
Tiger Woods has won 14 Majors in a 12 year period.
Billy Casper won 3 in a 12 year period.
Payne Stewart won 3 in an 11 year period.
Phil Mickelson has won 5 in a 10 year period.
Seve Ballesteros won 5 in a 10 year period.
Tom Watson won 8 in a 9 year period.
Arnold Palmer won 7 in a 7 year period.
Vijay Singh won 3 in a 7 year period.
Larry Nelson won 3 in a 7 year period.
Nick Faldo won 5 in a 6 year period.
Rory McIlroy has won 4 in a 4 year period.
Nick Price won 3 in a 3 year period.
Padraig Harrington won 3 in a 2 year period.

Now looking at the list based on when they joined the PGA or started playing in Majors and were on the European Tour.

Arnold Palmer 1955 competitor to Nicklaus - 7 Majors
Billy Casper 1955 competitor to Nicklaus - 3 Majors
Gary Player 1957 competitor to Nicklaus - 9 Majors
Jack Nicklaus 1962
Raymond Floyd 1963 competitor to Nicklaus - 4 Majors
Lee Trevino 1967 competitor to Nicklaus - 6 Majors
Hale Irwin 1968 competitor to Nicklaus - 3 Majors
Tom Watson 1972 competitor to Nicklaus - 8 Majors
Larry Nelson 1974 competitor to Nicklaus - 3 Majors
Seve Ballesteros 1977 competitor to Nicklaus - 5 Majors
Payne Stewart 1981 competitor between Nicklaus and Woods - 3 Majors
Nick Faldo 1981 competitor between Nicklaus and Woods - 5 Majors
Nick Price 1983 competitor between Nicklaus and Woods - 3 Majors
Phil Mickelson 1992 competitor to Woods - 5 Majors
Vijay Singh 1993 competitor to Woods - 3 Majors
Ernie Els 1994 competitor to Woods - 4 Majors
Tiger Woods 1996 - 14 Majors
Padraig Harrington 1997 competitor to Woods - 3 Majors
Rory McIlroy 2009 competitor to Woods - 4 Majors

Nicklaus faced a series of players that won at least 3 Majors throughout his career. To date that has not been the case with Woods.
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Old 03-17-2015, 09:50 AM   #8
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Jack also finished 2nd, 19 times.
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Old 03-17-2015, 09:51 AM   #9
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Nicklaus turned pro in 1961 and won his first major in 1962. Palmer won only two majors after Nicklaus' US Open win in '62. It's part of the reason why the idea of "The Big Three" kind of bothered me, because Palmer's prime was from '58-'62. Palmer was still winning tournaments after '62, but he wasn't the main competitor to Nicklaus.
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Old 03-17-2015, 10:20 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Centurion View Post
Nicklaus turned pro in 1961 and won his first major in 1962. Palmer won only two majors after Nicklaus' US Open win in '62. It's part of the reason why the idea of "The Big Three" kind of bothered me, because Palmer's prime was from '58-'62. Palmer was still winning tournaments after '62, but he wasn't the main competitor to Nicklaus.
It's not about numbers though. The people loved Palmer whether he won or lost. The people came to see him. And he won plenty of tournaments after 62.
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