Johnny Miller — Economist

During yesterday’s Doral tournament (or whatever it’s called now), the NBC crew pondered why so few players anywhere near the top of the leaderboard on the PGA tour post low Sunday rounds. Johnny Miller’s perception is that such Sunday low rounds among this group were more common in the 1960 and 1970s than now. That’s my perception also. Whether the big name guys like Trevino, Watson, Floyd, or other guys that tended to hang around, somebody seemed to go out and post a number that put some pressure on the leaders.

Dan Hicks, Miller’s play-by-play colleague, suggested that Tiger’s presence may an intimidating factor. Miller offered a more economics-oriented answer (paraphrased):

“The prize money has grown so much on the PGA tour that now the today’s purse is $8 million with $1.5 million to the winner and $800,000 to second place. $800,000 is a lot of money.”

In essence, Miller suggested an “income effect” as the answer — prize money is so high to support large paychecks for non-winners. I’m not sure that his (and my) perception of few low Sunday rounds near the top of the leaderboard is correct or that the income effect is the answer, but it’s worth investigating.

(Postscript: On my post post referencing Tiger Woods from last week, the cognitive science term I was looking for was “confirmation bias” — thanks to Jason. Also, Bob (the tennis coach) added some nice stat backup to the idea that Tiger’s average performance level is so high relative to the field that he’s going to win a ton — as he is doing — just not everything.)

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Author: Brian Goff

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