What Is Historical Domination And Who Owns The Most Years Earning That Designation

Golf is like most sports where fans enjoy citing various statistical components to hopefully compare and debate their icons’ greatest seasons. Golfworld.com’s Shane Ryan offers up a metric with a point system for wins that at first blush makes sense. But it appears to more applicable with more recent seasons rather than those in the Byron Nelson era–mostly due to WGC and FedExCup playoffs.

The arbitrary number to hit is 20. Ryan explains his theory.

1. As the name indicates, the goal here is to measure the most “historical” years of all time. Not the mathematical best. Repeat: Not the best. To measure “best,” you’d have to take every tournament finish into account, from the wins to the top-10s to the missed cuts, and weight them accordingly. In the HDS, I am only looking at wins. The idea is that for a player to go down in history, he must get that sweet, sweet W. There are no golf fans who gather to speak in reverent tones about that time Rickie Fowler finished top five in all four majors.

2. There is a huge modern bias. You can apply the HDS to older players, as you’ll see below, but it’s not a perfect fit. The HDS is custom engineered for a post-2000 world.

Here’s how it works: In the HDS, a golfer earns points for each win during a calendar year according to the following scale:

5 points: Major championships
4 points: WGC tournaments, Players Championship, BMW PGA Championship
3 points: Championship series events (FedExCup playoffs, European Tour finals series) and season-long PGA or European Tour titles (money list used in pre-FedExCup/Race to Dubai finals series years)
2 points: Any “regular” PGA Tour or European Tour event

As I crunched the numbers, I found something pretty interesting and gratifying: It’s really, really hard for a player to reach the 20-point threshold. I was hoping for a nice round number that separated the wheat from the chaff, and the system, basically by accident, delivered. Since 1990, the 20-point season has only been accomplished 12 times … by five players. (Can you guess the name of the only person to do it more than once? Who, in fact, did it eight freaking times? Hint: He’s kinda famous.)

• As you would expect from a metric that rewards wins and wins alone, Tiger is king. But the really crazy thing about his epic 2000 season is that it came before the FedEx Cup playoffs, depriving him of the chance for nine additional points.

• Aside from Tiger, no modern player has reached 20 points twice. The one-timer club includes Rory, Spieth, Nick Price and Vijay Singh.

• If you were curious, Justin Thomas scored a 17 last year (he’d have reached 20 if he caught Xander Schauffele at the Tour Championship), and Dustin Johnson actually did better in 2017 (13) than 2016 (12).

• The most surprising discovery was that Phil Mickelson has really never had a dominant year. He hasn’t won two majors in a season, he has only two WGCs to his name. He’s never won player of the year, and he’s never won a money list or the FedEx Cup. His highest total on the HDS is 13 in 2009.

And here are Ryan’s calculations for past legends.

Jack Nicklaus surprisingly had only one 20-point season, while Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead had two. Nelson’s magical 1945 season holds the high water mark of 42 points. Tiger Woods’ best; 38 points for his peerless 2000 season.

Anyway, good stuff to contemplate.