Professional Golf Tour Players
Bubba Watson, known for incredible shot-making, mammoth drives, a hot pink shafted driver and an electric personality, Bubba Watson is a true all American superstar. Bubba grew up the small town of Bagdad Florida where he began the game of golf at age 6. He was given a cut down 9-iron from his father and learned to play the game by hitting wiffle-balls around the house. More interestingly, the only golf lesson Bubba received was from his father at a very young age and he has not had a lesson since. He is truly a self-taught golfer.
David Duval is a man who recently made his 400th PGA Tour appearance utilizes only 41 percent of his career here -- just Nicklaus (18 percent) and 19th-ranked Raymond Floyd (39 percent) have smaller slivers among players in the modern 100's top 20. However, Duval's stretch featured 13 titles headed by the '01 Open Championship, and he cracked the top 10 a dozen times in consecutive seasons ('98-99).
Ernie Els never captured the high point total for a season but was second twice (2000 and '04) and five other times in a year's top five. He produced the highest first-year point total (14.102) of any player whose career began after 1980. He did that, in large part, in '94 by taking second in the Buick Classic and winning a U.S. Open playoff at Oakmont CC in consecutive weeks.
Greg Norman posted the highest point total six times between '86 and '95 en route to a then-record 331 weeks as No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Seven of his seasons are among the 50 best, two more make the top 100. He takes advantage of the 50 percent bonus the modern 100 performance formula gives for majors: recorded 26 top 10s in majors during his eligible seasons, including eight times as a runner-up, and cracked the top 25 at a 65-percent pace.
Jack Nicklaus although eligible for only 18 percent of his career starts include five titles -- three of them majors capped by the 1986 Masters -- plus 14 seconds. Despite compiling what some observers would consider his weakest seasons, he has four of the 100 best under the modern 100 formula. He also logged the third-highest stroke differential to field average in all rounds and ranks second in final-round differential (1.862).
Nick Faldo has six of his nine triumphs that were in majors, including leading the modern 100 points list in 1990 when he doubled up the Masters and Open Championship. That's worth a spot much higher in the overall ranking, but 49.6 percent of his 180 eligible starts were outside the top 25 or on the wrong side of the cut, a fate that befell him on a more frequent basis outside the game's four biggest events.
Phil Mickelson owns seven of the top 100 seasons. He has the second-largest win total (42) among modern 100 entrants and finishing in the top 10 in 37 percent of tournaments mitigate the 42 percent of his starts that fall outside the top 25 (131 times) or miss the cut (64). He produced victories in all but two of his 21 seasons. He takes advantage of Scott Verplank Rule, which stipulates an official victory by an amateur (1991 Northern Telecom Open) is applied to the player's first eligible year as a pro.
Rory McIlroy is one of only two players who started their eligibility in 1981 or later had better averages after their fifth seasons: No. 17 Retief Goosen (10.550) and No. 6 Els (9.871). The only player in the top 25 with a final-round stroke differential (1.363) that is higher than his differential for all rounds. He has bettered the field average by five or more shots in six of his 53 final rounds, including three of his six wins ('10 Quail Hollow by 10.714; '12 PGA by 5.653; '12 BMW Championship by 5.086).
Woods has the best season in 12 of his 16 eligible years (2008 and '11 were eliminated from consideration as injury seasons) and eight of the best nine seasons overall and 14 of the top 50. Plus he's averaged an otherworldly 2.603 shots better than the field average in 1,050 stroke-play rounds, including 2.547 better in his 250 final rounds. Tiger Woods official site, offering news, biographical information and statistics.
Tom Watson won three straight five-win seasons in '77-79 as part of his first 18 titles are not included in this ranking's definition of the modern era. But his continued dominance in 1980-84, when he won another 18 times, made him the top point-earner each season. The worst of those years ranks 42nd overall in the modern 100 formula. He won the Nabisco Championship in '87, the inaugural of what is now called the Tour Championship, then went nine and 11 years before his final two titles.
Vijay Singh is known for durability and an unflagging practice routine, his 34 triumphs are spread across 13 of his 16 eligible seasons. That best season outpaced that season's 50 other eligible players and broke Woods' streak of seven years earning the highest score. Singh placed in the top 10 in two or more majors in a season eight times between '95 and '06. That included all four in '05, when he tied for fifth in the Masters and Open Championship.