Scheffler, Rahm, and Rory: Assessing golf’s new Triumvirate

Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm, 2023 WM Phoenix Open,Syndication: Arizona Republic
Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm, 2023 WM Phoenix Open,Syndication: Arizona Republic /
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Triumvirate, Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy
Walter Hagen at the 1929 British Open, (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images) /

The Roaring 20s

Major championship golf in the 1920s was dominated by a well-known Triumvirate, Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, and Gene Sarazen. Again, though, creating a collective Relative Stroke Average is a process that can only be estimated.

Begin with the fact that the Masters did not yet exist, the PGA was contested as match play – a fact that especially disadvantages Hagen, who won five of them —  and Americans only sporadically made the cross-ocean trek to play in the British Open.

The PGA Tour did exist but Jones – an amateur – didn’t play on it, and anyway, reliable event-by-event records for all the events don’t exist. As with the 1940s, we can add the highly respected Western Open – perceived at the time as Major-ish. But Jones rarely played in that largely pro event, either, meaning our data sample will be short.

The 1920s Triumvirate gives us many good years to look at. As a collective, our three elites won two stroke play Majors in three different years: 1926, 1929, and 1930. Since 1930 is so famously Jones’ year, and since the numbers for all three of those seasons are similar, 1930 is as good a choice as any to represent this Triumvirate.

Jones’ U.S. and British Open victories came on scoring totals that equated to a .947 Relative Stroke Average. Sarazen only tied for 28th in the U.S. Open and skipped the British. But he did win the Western Open by an imposing seven strokes, producing a 292.0 scoring average that equated to a .957 Relative Stroke Average.

Hagen was sixth at the Western,  but he merely tied for 17th at the U.S. Open. Like Sarazen, he skipped the trip to Britain. His 295.5 average for the two events in which he took part amounts to a .968 Relative Stroke Average.

That puts the 1930 Triumvirate at a collective relative Stroke Average of .957. That’s the best yet, but as with the 1940s made unreliable by the paucity of data.