Thursday, July 25, 2013

Is Phil Mickelson a Top 10 All-time Golfer?

This article says yes.

http://athlonsports.com/golf/greatest-golfers-all-time

I love me some Phil (despite his whining about his taxes, which may be justified if he played only in the UK --  http://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2013/07/22/phil-mickelson-wins-historic-british-open-and-incurs-61-tax-rate/ ).

But I have to say that right now he needs either 55 PGA tour wins or 2 more majors to have a top 10 career.

There are 13 guys with more major wins than Phil:

Jack
Tiger
Walter Hagen
Ben Hogan
Gary Player
Tom Watson
Gene Sarazen
Arnold Palmer
Sam Snead
Bobby Jones
Harry Vardon
Lee Trevino
Nick Faldo.

Phil's 42 total PGA victories does rank him 9th all-time (Snead, Tiger, Jack, Hogan, Palmer, Byron Nelson, Billy Casper, Walter Hagen, then Phil).

I don't think Phil has any claim whatsoever to be top 8, which I would say is:

Jack
Tiger
Jones
Hogan
Hagen
Sarazen
Snead
Player


That means Phil is clumped in with the next group of 8:
Watson, Palmer, Vardon, Trevino, Faldo, Phil, Byron Nelson, Billy Casper

Phil could be ranked as low as 16 or as high as 9.  While Phil certainly has Arnold Palmer-like characteristics, it seems unfair to say he is better since Arnold has both more total victories and total majors.  Tom Watson played a lot against Jack, and had only 3 fewer total victories and 3 more majors than Phil.  So I think he needs to be top 10.

My analysis leaves Phil fighting hard for 11th with Trevino and Byron Nelson.  I think Phil has had a better career than Faldo and I am unwilling to harken back to the dark days of golf and analyze Harry Vardon's greatness or lack thereof, so I will go with Phil there.  Billy Casper had only 3 majors.  I will go with Phil there, although I can see an argument the other way.

So how would I get Phil in the top 10 with 55 victories or 7 majors?  Well, 55 wins would put Phil in the top 6 all-time in wins.  7 majors would move him into the top 10 in both major wins and total wins - it would be hard to say that he was not a top 10 player.  Who would suffer the drop down to 11?  I would say Tom Watson.  He only had 39 total victories, so if Phil got to 55, he would dwarf Watson.  At 7 majors, Phil would be only 1 behind Watson and have more total wins and 5 of Watson's 8 came at one major (the British).

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