At the halfway point of the FedExCup Playoffs, the Player of the Year discussion has started to heat up. Much of the conversation has been centered around which achievements are more noteworthy: One major championship win or five regular PGA Tour victories? Of course, everyone has their own opinion on this, but what can we learn by looking at the numbers?
From 1960 to the present in majors:
109 different players have won at least one major
71 players have won only one major
38 of those players are multiple major winners
A player has won two (or more) majors in a season 20 different times
10 players account for those 20 multiple-major winning seasons
Of those 20 multiple-major winning seasons, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods are responsible for 10 of them (five apiece)
Five-time winners on Tour since 1960:
A player has won five times on Tour in 33 different seasons
12 players have won five times in a year at least once
Of those 33 five-or-more-win seasons, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson each had four, Nicklaus had seven, and so far, Tiger has 10. (No other player has done it more than once.)
That said, what’s more impressive? Five non-major victories or one major? The stats suggest it is much harder to win five times in one year on the PGA Tour than it is to win a major. Which makes sense if you think about it. After all, there are four majors a year and obviously there will be a winner at each one. On the other hand, it’s not guaranteed a player will win five times in a season. Indeed, on many occasions in the last 53 seasons, the Tour has produced zero five-time winners.
The majors are clearly the biggest events. However, it is obviously more difficult to win five times on Tour, and the feat has generally only been accomplished by the greatest names in the game. While majors play a huge role in measuring the legacy of golfers, the numbers say capturing five victories in a year is arguably a better barometer. Of course, the most difficult task to accomplish is winning multiple majors in a season, but you already knew that.
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