Friday, October 05, 2007

The Top 10 Texans

Pegged to this week's Texas Open, Golf.com has a slideshow of "The 10 Best Players from Texas," their ranking of our greatest golfers.

Lists are fun, so I'll bite. Just who are the 10 best golfers in Texas history? Golf.com's list is a co-ed one:

10. Jack Burke Jr.
9. Ben Crenshaw
8. Harry Cooper
7. Babe Didrikson Zaharias
6. Jimmy Demaret
5. Lloyd Mangrum
4. Kathy Whitworth
3. Lee Trevino
1b. Ben Hogan
1a. Byron Nelson

I'm always opposed to a co-ed list such as this (although not to co-ed tournaments) because nobody can argue that Kathy Whitworth was a better golfer than Mangrum or Demaret. If one is ranking players based on impact, then yes, co-ed is fine (and the Babe would be no lower than No. 2, and arguably No. 1). But a ranking based on playing ability should be all-guys or all-girls.

Three other beefs with the list: They've got Nelson and Hogan reversed (Hogan should be No. 1). They include Harry Cooper, who was born in England and didn't move to Texas until age 10. But even if you invoke the "I wasn't born in Texas but I got here as fast I could clause" to call Cooper a Texan, Lighthorse Harry should not be on this list while Ralph Guldahl is off it.

And finally, Ben Crenshaw. I'm not saying (at least not in this post) that he doesn't belong on any such list, I'm saying he doesn't belong ahead of Tom Kite. Kite and Crenshaw were exact contemporaries, and while Crenshaw had more raw talent and won two majors to Kite's one, Kite was by far the more consistent player, and more consistently good. Even Crenshaw has said that Kite deserves to be rated ahead of him when comparing their careers.

But, as I said, lists are fun. So thanks to Golf.com for this one.

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