Is the depth of PGA Tour talent stronger than ever?
By Andrew Both
CARY North Carolina (Reuters) - It is often said that the depth of talent on the PGA Tour has become stronger than ever, but does this apparently widespread belief stand up to statistical analysis?
There are several ways to 'measure' depth but, at first glance, it might help to get the opinion of professional golfers who have been playing the tour since the 1990s.
Australian Stuart Appleby and American David Toms, two veterans who have competed on the U.S. circuit for almost two decades, have little doubt that the depth of talent has improved considerably during their time playing at the highest level.
Appleby, 43, a nine-times winner who has been on the tour since 1996, believes there are more quality players now at both ends of the age spectrum, either in their early 20s or 40s, and therefore it stands to reason that there is more depth.
"When I came on tour, I was considered one of the young guns and I was in my mid-20s," Australian Appleby told Reuters. "That same tag now is really someone between 19 and 23. It's probably dropped five years.
"There are more guys under 30 who can win on tour than ever. I wonder whether I would have got a foot in the game if I was starting out now, because I was 14 when I took the game up.
"Today, 15 and 16-year-olds are shooting under par. That was pretty rare when I was a kid. The young talent these days is more gifted all round than it was 20 years ago."
Former world number one Tiger Woods, a 14-times major champion, would be an exception to that generalization. He won his first Masters at the age of 21 in 1997. Continued...