Friday, August 28, 2009

A small point

Reading a bit about Woods for the past while and pondering the pressing question of whether he's greater than Federer I sometimes get the impression that results are interpreted too much in his favor. It has a lot to do with the large role of randomness in golf. Even at his best the probability of Tiger winning a major isn't much higher than 50% while obscure players quite often win big tournaments, so individual losses do little to damage anyone's reputation.
This is all right, but one can take it too far.

Using the final round of the recent US PGA as an example, one cannot consistently believe all of the following propositions.
  • Going into the final round, Woods was overwhelmingly likely to win.
  • Winning would have boosted his reputation by a small, but significant amount.
  • Losing his lead does very little to damage his reputation.

If you agree with the first two, his reputation should suffer from losing much more than it would have been enhanced by his winning.

My impression is that many people believe all three of these propositions.

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