Ranking players in golf has always been problematic. The margins are small, and the variables are big. The fallback position has been to make it all about the majors—golf's CliffsNotes. But only counting majors grossly oversimplifies.
There's a better standard, the one that athletes themselves use to judge themselves against their peers—day-in, day-out performance. In 1980, the PGA Tour created a database with complete scoring and performance statistics that made "apples to apples" comparative analysis more possible. Thirty-four years later, using those now-voluminous resources, Golf World has created the "100 Best Modern Players," a ranking of the top performers on the PGA Tour since 1980.
Briefly, our Modern 100 sought to:
• Intensely focus on performance, keeping subjectivity to a minimum.
• Give majors 50 percent added value, but reward day-to-day, week-to-week excellence.
• Use a formula designed to highlight a player's best golf.
This last goal is aimed at de-emphasizing the slump-ridden periods that are inevitable over careers of any length. In the process, we wanted to create a statistical chronicle of the best in their prime years, in essence answering the question, "How good was their good?" —Jaime Diaz VIEW CHART: 100 BEST MODERN PLAYERS ⇒ Note: Performance calculations include match-play and modified Stableford formats such as The International, but they were omitted from versus peers calculations. Sources: PGA Tour ShotLink database and the tour's media guides from 1980-2014.Average point total of the 1,945 individual seasons graded: 3.942. We eliminated from consideration 63 seasons where, regardless of quality of results, players missed significant playing time due to injury. We used the tour's medical exemptions as guidelines on those decisions.