Matching Up the Greatest Seasons in Golf History (Part II)

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By Matt Cohen | Site Editor

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Before you read on, you’ll probably want to check out Part I of Matching Up the Greatest Seasons in Golf History.

Last week, we undertook the arduous task of compiling the eight greatest season in golf history. The idea was to try and imagine what would happen if Jack Nicklaus in his prime competed against Tiger Woods in his prime. To recap, here were the eight golfers and seasons that were chosen, seeded 1-8:

(1) Byron Nelson: 1945
(2) Bobby Jones: 1930
(3) Tiger Woods: 2000
(4) Ben Hogan 1953

(5) Jack Nicklaus: 1972
(6) Arnold Palmer: 1960
(7) Rory McIlroy: 2014
(8) Lee Trevino: 1971

The bolded names are the ones who advanced in our bracket-like competition.

So now in Part II, we’re going to finish this off, and come up with the greatest season in golf history, or the golfer who in that year would beat any other player in history (whichever way you want to look at it).

Here are the two semi-final match-ups:

(1) Byron Nelson: 1945 vs. (4) Ben Hogan: 1953 and (2) Bobby Jones: 1930 vs. (3) Tiger Woods: 2000.

Without further ado, let’s get to work.

(1) Byron Nelson: 1945 vs. (4) Ben Hogan: 1953

gwsl-golfs-best-seasons-byron-nelson

How do you separate the four greatest seasons in golf history? Tough. But at least with this first matchup, we have two legends who actually played against one another in the same era. In fact, Nelson and Hogan were born just months apart in 1912 (Nelson’s older). By the late 1940’s, Nelson was no longer in his prime, and Hogan was the undisputed number one player in the sport. But in 1945, when Nelson won 11 consecutive events and 18 overall – would that beat Hogan in ’53, when The Hawk won all five official PGA Tour events he entered?

We’re going with our first upset. Yes, we’re saying that the 1953 version of Ben Hogan would beat the 1945 version of Byron Nelson. Keep in mind that Hogan was fighting in WWII during much of Nelson’s magical ’45 season. We’re basically splitting hairs here. Nelson’s ’45 is arguably more impressive, but overall Hogan had the slightly better career, and we just can’t help but wonder if Nelson would have won 11 straight events if Hogan hadn’t been in the war.

Advancing: (4) Ben Hogan: 1953

1953hogan

(2) Bobby Jones: 1930 vs. (3) Tiger Woods: 2000

Bobby Jones Grand Slam

We go from two guys born months apart to Bobby Jones who was dead four years before Tiger Woods was even born. You know the history. In 1930, Jones won the Grand Slam – U.S. and British opens and U.S. and British amateurs. Tiger meanwhile, won three majors (5th at the Masters), and won 9 of 20 starts. He was also runner up at the prestigious Players Championship, Tour Championship and WGC-Match Play Championship.

These two played in completely different eras, so it’s nearly impossible and 100% subjective who to pick here. We have to go with Tiger though. His 2000 season is the benchmark by which all other golf campaigns in the modern era, including those of Woods himself, are now compared.

Advancing: (3) Tiger Woods: 2000

PEBBLE BEACH, CA - JUNE 18:  Tiger Woods clinches his fist after winning the US Open at Pebble Beach, California 18 June 2000. Woods won with a score 12-under-par. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO MIKE FIALA  (Photo credit should read MIKE FIALA/AFP/Getty Images)

Championship: (3) Tiger Woods: 2000 vs. (4) Ben Hogan: 1953

At last, we get to the championship round. Tiger Woods and Ben Hogan. One could argue that in 2000 Tiger faced much deeper competition, but that in 1953 Hogan faced better competition at the top, such as Nelson and Sam Snead. Much like the Jones vs. Tiger matchup, it’s very difficult to match-up two golfers who played 50 years apart. But hey, that’s what the internet is for. Hogan won 9 majors. Tiger has 14.

Maybe it’s the fact that most of us are too young to have ever seen Ben Hogan play, or maybe it’s because we just remember how dominant Tiger was in 2000. But the winner, as declared by us, is Tiger Woods: 2000, when he set or tied 27 PGA Tour records.

The End?

This means that in this fantasy, doesn’t really mean anything bracket, that Tiger Woods in the year 2000 would beat any other golfer in their prime. Are those fighting words? Maybe. But if you disagree, then by all means let’s hear your argument. Cheers.

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