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Furyk vs. Weiskopf for the Hall of Fame

September 27th, 2010 · 1 Comment

The champagne had barely touched Jim Furyk’s tongue when the experts began speculating on the meaning of his TOUR Championship and FedExCup.

Some speculated that it made him the odds on choice for Player of the Year while others wondered if he was now a serious candidate for the Hall of Fame (HOF).

As for question #1, Furyk will likely get POY because none of the major winners had big season in the US (though PGA champ Martin Kaymer did win twice more in Europe), and because he is the only three time winner on tour. Never mind that his best finish in a major was a 10t at the Masters.

Now for question #2: has he done enough, or almost enough to warrant a place in the HOF? The answer can be arrived at by giving him the Tom Weiskopf Test. Weiskopf has the most impressive resume of any inactive player who has not made it to the HOF in the last 50 years.

So, if Furyk cannot beat Weiskopf in a straight up comparison, he does not belong in the HOF, or at least must wait until Weiskopf is voted in, or he does something to increase his chances.

Let’s begin with the majors. Each has won one, so who’s was more impressive? Weiskopf’s 1973 British Open was part of a monster five win season. In second was Johnny Miller, while Jack Nicklaus was in fourth, meaning that he beat two HOF heavyweights to earn his major. Furyk beat Stephen Leaney, who has zero PGA Tour wins and one top 10 in a major (this one) on his resume. Woods applied no pressure, finishing 20t. As a result, Weiskopf’s win was a bigger achievement.

In the second’s department, Weiskopf wins, 4-2. Two of those seconds came to Nicklaus, and one to Gary Player. Furyk’s runner-ups were to Geoff Ogilvy and Angel Cabrera. Big edge to Weiskopf.

Third place goes to Weiskopf, 3-0. Furyk leads in fourths, 5-3.
So, in Top Fours, Weiskopf enjoys a comfortable 11-8 lead. He also leads Furyk in Top 10s, 21 to 18.

Now Furyk, who will turn 41 after next year’s Masters, could add to his numbers, but he is also at an age when  a player’s performances in the majors tends to drop off quickly. All things considered, the only way for Furyk to have a better record in the majors than Weiskopf is for him to win his second major.

I place little value on PGA Tour victories over time as a measure of greatness because the tour of today is nothing like it was 15-50 years ago, so comparing wins in anything but an apples to apples proposition. Still, let’s take a quick look at our two HOF candidates.

Both players, as of Sunday, have 16 PGA Tour wins, but those totals are anything but equal. Weiskopf beat HOF players seven times (they were second), while only three of Furyk’s victims were current or future members (Woods twice, Vijay Singh once). Three times Nicklaus was a runner up to Weiskopf while Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Miller, Lanny Wadkins, and Larry Nelson were also among his victims.

Almost all of Weiskopf’s wins came in full field events with high quality fields. A case in point is the Canadian Open. When he won it in 1975, Nicklaus was second. When Furyk won his in 2006 and 2007, neither Woods nor Mickelson was in the field. In addition, five more of Furyk’s have come in B List events such as the Las Vegas Invitational (3 times), the Hawaiian Open (1), the Mercedes Championships (1). And, of course, his most recent win was against a greatly depleted field of 30 that was missing Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood, and Martin Kaymer, among others. As a body of work, Weiskopf’s 16 beats Furyk’s 16 by a wide margin.

If we are going to seriously consider Furyk for the HOF, one of two things must happen: 1) Weiskopf must first be voted in, because at this point his record is superior, or 2) Furyk must win a major or keep adding to key metrics discussed above until the weight of the evidence shifts to his favor.

Tags: Golf in General · PGA Tour


1 response so far ↓

  • 1 BD // Sep 30, 2010 at 7:21 am

    The case for inducting Furyk appears pretty weak at this point. One major plus 15 other PGA wins just isn’t quite up to snuff. I agree that IF Furyk were to get in now, Weiskopf would have a gripe; but I’m not sure Weiskopf has much of a case for getting in if Furyk is likewise left out.

    And how can either guy complain if DL III isn’t in?

    Frankly, I even think Monty would be a stronger candidate than Weiskopf or Furyk. He never won a major, but he dominated in Europe during an era when the European Tour really came into prominence.

    O’Meara also has 16 wins, including TWO majors. Why shouldn’t he rank ahead of Furyk and Weiskopf?

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