Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Luke Donald caused a minor stir last week when he said that Rory McIlroy was more talented golfer than Tiger Woods. Donald later clarified that he was talking about McIlroy's easy swing. Not that he needed to -- we all knew what he meant. Even Tiger once famously declined John Daly’s offer to get a few beers by saying, "If I had your talent, John, I wouldn't have to work out."
Donald got us thinking, so we asked Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Teachers to name the most naturally talented pro golfers of today and all time. Here’s what they said: Who is the most talented golfer in the game today? Rory McIlroy 19% (8 votes) Rory_mosttalentedRory McIlroy in Hong Kong, December, 2011, AP Photo  Tiger Woods 17% (7 votes)
Fred Couples 13% (5 votes)
Dustin Johnson 10% (4 votes)
Bubba Watson 8% (3 votes)
Yani Tseng 8% (3 votes) 
Michelle Wie 5% (2 votes)
John Daly 2% (1 vote)
Jason Day 2% (1 vote)
Luke Donald 2% (1 vote)
Ernie Els 2% (1 vote)
Jim Furyk 2% (1 vote)
Sergio Garcia 2% (1 vote)
Louis Oosthaizen 2% (1 vote) 
Ted Potter 2% (1 vote)
Alexis Thompson 2% (1 vote) 
Gary Woodland 2% (1 vote)
42 total votes  Who is the most talented golfer of all time?

Sam Snead  37% (15 votes)
Sam Snead in Del Mar, Calif., 1937, AP Photo
Tiger Woods  12% (5 votes)
Jack Nicklaus  7% (3 votes)
Mickey Wright 7% (3 votes)
Bobby Jones 4.5% (2 votes)
Seve Ballesteros 2.5% (1 vote)
Fred Couples  2.5% (1 vote)
John Daly  2.5% (1 vote)
Ray Floyd  2.5% (1 vote)
Jim Furyk 2.5% (1 vote)
Walter Hagen 2.5% (1 vote)
Ben Hogan  2.5% (1 vote)
Bruce Lietzke 2.5% (1 vote)
Larry Nelson  2.5% (1 vote)
Annika Sorenstam  2.5% (1 vote)
Peter Thompson  2.5% (1 vote)
Kathy Whitworth  2.5% (1 vote)
Babe Zaharias  2.5% (1 vote) 
41 total votes
Rory looks the most natural. Dropping out of school at 15 and practicing eight to 10 hours a day helped.
Snead hands down all time. I caddied for him twice when I was in college. It was a joke. Like riding a bike. How many swing changes did Snead go through? Johnson has “gifts” that most guys dream about. Larry Nelson didn't pickup the game until he was 21 and learned to play from Hogan's Book, "Five Fundamentals." That’s talent Ernie Els (today) for his naturally beautiful rhythm and Ray Floyd (All-time) for an amazing swing that truly held up under pressure. Sam always had rhythm and balance. He hit it far and always made it look easy. I enjoyed watching him play. What Jim Furyk has accomplished, considering the complexity and moving parts of his swing, makes him the most natural and talented player in the history of the game.
Before high spin/low spin balls, shafts with different flex, weights and kick points , titanium heads, hybrids, video instruction (that may not be an asset for many players) and teaching professionals to service his swing at every tour stop, Hagen dominated. He could hit a 3-wood 150 yards or 230 yards and baffle his competitor who, after watching Hagen's three-wood, would question his club selection, over club, and fly the green. Louis Oosthuizen and Peter Thompson. I was discussing the talent question with Nick O'Hern at dinner tonight. We also thought Cabrera, obviously Seve if he was still alive but if you've ever seen Louis hit it, it's pure talent. As for Thomo, he played the game in a simple way, effortless manner.

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