Coming Up Short

ESPN.Com’s Jason Sobel has a great line about Tiger’s five tournament winning streak, and Byron Nelson’s eleven:

Weakened fields and easier venues be damned, Nelson’s streak is more prodigious than it gets credit for. The greatest golfer of all time just played the greatest six months of golf in his career … and still came up six tourneys short? Wow.

5 thoughts on “Coming Up Short”

  1. I have to respectfully disagree here.  (Let me preface by saying I’m a HUGE Nelson fan—who, in my opinion is in the top four greatest golfers, and the greatest gentlemen-golfer of all time).  I’m always hesitant to compare eras, but can we REALLY argue that weaker fields and easier venues didn’t add to Nelson’s winning streak (which was amazing)?  In my mind, there is absolutely no way to compare “the field” of the 30s and 40s with the field of today.  Again, no disrespect to Nelson, or one of the greatest accomplishment in sports, but in general “the field” has narrowed the gap between themselves and the top five golfers in the world.

  2. From a previous GolfBlogger article:

    “Critics long have charged that Nelson’s record is tarnished by a weak field. But among his competitors that year were Sam Snead, Ben Hogan and Jimmy Demaret. And remember that in golf, you play as much against the courses as you do against the field. In 1945, Nelson simply overwhelmed the courses with a 68.33 scoring average—a record that stood for 55 years.”

  3. Regarding my earlier post, I’m not disputing that he beat great players (three of them).  BTW: that doesn’t take anything away from the accomplishment, he still won 11 in a row.  But do you disagree with the notion that “the field” today is stronger than “the field” of that era? 

    Sure, Nelson faced Snead, Hogan and Demaret.  What about Mickelson, Ogilvy, Els, Goose, Furyk, Singh?  My only point is that “the field” is different today. 

    I do agree with one thing: it’s absolutely ridiculous to talk about Tiger breaking the streak or going undefeated—until he nears 8 or 9 in a row.

  4. I agree that in 1945, the entire field probably was weaker (although I’d still take Nelson, Snead and Hogan against any three guys out there today).

    But I actually think it’s impossible to compare the fields. New clubs v Old clubs. New balls v Old. In a couple of those tournaments, the entire PURSE was just $500— about $6,500 in today’s money. So those guys didn’t have trainers, personal nutritionists, etc. They were living out of junker cars and eating bad foot. That’s why Nelson quit to become a rancher.

    Two entirely different worlds, don’t you think?

  5. I agree with you.  Totally different worlds—I actually think it’s silly to compare eras.  I just think 11 in that era might be easier than 11 in this era.  But it doesn’t take away the feat.  Incidentally, I live in Texas and Lord Byron’s funeral received a great deal of local coverage.  I think what far outshines the 11 straight victories was his character.  I don’t think we’ll ever see that record broken.


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