DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS … ALMOST

Want to know why the World Golf Championship Match Play Championship shouldn’t count in the rankings.

Simple. Almost every other event in the world is a stroke play event and there are lot of other variables in match play. Like, how your opponent plays.

Below, is a list of my top-10 and bottom-10 players from this week based on a simple ranking. Birdie percentage. How many birdies did the player make. Then they are standardized based on how the field average (23.90%) would do for the number of holes the player played for the week. That’s why Westwood (30.49% over 82 holes) is ahead of Manassero (33.33% over 33 holes).

Player (Top 10)

Bird %

Holes

St. Dev.

Wins

Hunter Mahan

36.46%

96

2.886

6

Martin Laird

33.82%

68

1.920

3

Lee Westwood

30.49%

82

1.400

4

Matteo Manassero

33.33%

33

1.271

1

Graeme McDowell

35.29%

17

1.102

0

Peter Hanson

29.51%

61

1.028

3

Keegan Bradley

31.25%

32

0.975

1

Rickie Fowler

33.33%

18

0.939

0

Rory McIlroy

27.72%

101

0.902

5

Dustin Johnson

29.17%

48

0.856

2

 

Player (Bottom 10)

Bird %

Holes

St. Dev.

Wins

Tiger Woods

16.67%

36

-1.017

1

Greg Chalmers

12.50%

16

-1.069

0

Sang-Moon Bae

17.91%

67

-1.149

3

K.J. Choi

11.76%

17

-1.173

0

Aaron Baddeley

11.76%

17

-1.173

0

Kyung Tae Kim

6.67%

15

-1.565

0

Robert Rock

11.76%

34

-1.659

1

Jason Dufner

5.88%

17

-1.742

0

Fredrik Jacobson

0.00%

13

-2.020

0

Francesco Molinari

6.06%

33

-2.403

1

This isn’t perfect, because it’s possible in the short term for someone to do something like make 8 birdies and 8 bogeys in a round (Gary Woodland was close). However, over the longer run, good players shoot lower scores. There is not a tradeoff between a player who makes a lot of birdies making a lot of bogeys also.

The basic point is golf is mostly a sport about what your individual skill can do on the course. When you play match play, it often becomes more about what your opponent does, which isn’t really meaningful to anyone.

Here’s a look at the final 8 finishers and their “defense” for the tournament.

Player

Bird %

Holes

St. Dev.

Hunter Mahan Opponent

21.88%

96

-0.464

Martin Laird Opponent

25.00%

68

0.213

Lee Westwood Opponent

26.83%

82

0.623

Peter Hanson Opponent

14.75%

61

-1.674

Rory McIlroy Opponent

18.81%

101

-1.198

Matt Kuchar Opponent

20.97%

62

-0.541

Mark Wilson Opponent

21.52%

79

-0.495

Sang-Moon Bae Opponent

23.88%

67

-0.003

As you can see, most of them played fantastic defense for the tournament. Rory McIlroy, for the first four rounds, and Peter Hanson were particularly tenacious around the hole. They simply did not allow their opponents to make birdies.

Take a look at Rory’s first four matches compared to Steve Stricker’s first three:

Round

Player

Birdies

Holes

Delta

1

George Coetzee

3

18

-1.30134

2

Anders Hansen

2

16

-1.82342

3

Miguel Angel Jimenez

2

17

-2.06238

4

Sang-Moon Bae

1

16

-2.82342

Total

Rory McIlroy Opponent

8

67

-8.01056

The Delta Column is the difference between the number of birdies Rory’s opponents made and the number of birdies they would be expected to make going by the field average. I know: It’s quite possible Rory’s birdie defense is explainable partly because none of those players are above the field average for this event.

Round

Player

Birdies

Holes

Delta

R1

Kevin Na

4

17

-0.06238

R2

Louis Oosthuizen

3

18

-1.30134

R3

Hunter Mahan

9

15

5.41555

Total

Steve Stricker Opponent

16

50

4.05182

Hunter Mahan had more birdies against Stricker in 15 holes than all of Rory’s opponents before Sunday had against him.

Player

Bird. %

Holes

Delta

Steve Stricker

28.00%

50

2.052

Steve Stricker Opponent

32.00%

50

4.052

Rory McIlroy

22.39%

67

-1.011

Rory McIlroy Opponent

11.94%

67

-8.011

Stricker had the fourth most birdies in the field on Friday when he lost to Mahan. So, it’s totally his fault that he ran into a buzzsaw. He should probably work on his ability to deny his opponents birdies.

So Striker birdied more holes, had a lower score for the first three days and ends up with a lot less OWGR points than Rory. How does that make sense?

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2012 ACCENTURE MATCH PLAY ODDS

Here you go:

Team

Seed

Reg

Round 2

Round 3

Bracket Final

Final Four

Final match

Champion

Luke Donald

1

E

62.1%

37.2%

22.3%

13.2%

7.4%

4.5%

Adam Scott

2

E

64.4%

36.6%

20.9%

11.4%

5.9%

3.3%

Dustin Johnson

3

E

51.6%

27.9%

14.1%

7.1%

3.4%

1.7%

K.J. Choi

4

E

54.4%

27.8%

13.3%

6.8%

3.2%

1.6%

Brandt Snedeker

5

E

52.3%

27.2%

12.9%

6.4%

3.0%

1.5%

Thomas Bjorn

6

E

48.0%

21.7%

10.0%

4.6%

1.9%

0.8%

Bo Van Pelt

7

E

54.9%

27.7%

14.6%

7.3%

3.4%

1.8%

Jason Dufner

8

E

47.5%

20.7%

10.2%

4.9%

2.2%

1.0%

Peter Hanson

9

E

52.5%

23.9%

12.4%

6.2%

2.8%

1.3%

Mark Wilson

10

E

45.1%

20.4%

9.8%

4.3%

1.9%

0.8%

Francesco Molinari

11

E

52.0%

25.0%

11.8%

5.6%

2.4%

1.1%

Retief Goosen

12

E

47.7%

23.6%

10.7%

5.1%

2.3%

1.0%

Kyle Stanley

13

E

45.6%

21.4%

9.5%

4.4%

1.9%

0.8%

Jim Furyk

14

E

48.4%

25.4%

12.4%

6.1%

2.8%

1.3%

Robert Rock

15

E

35.6%

15.2%

6.4%

2.6%

1.0%

0.4%

Ernie Els

16

E

37.9%

18.2%

8.7%

4.2%

1.9%

0.8%

Martin Kaymer

1

M

62.1%

33.9%

18.4%

9.9%

5.5%

3.0%

Steve Stricker

2

M

57.7%

32.7%

17.8%

9.7%

5.5%

3.0%

Graeme McDowell

3

M

54.9%

27.2%

13.7%

6.8%

3.4%

1.7%

Matt Kuchar

4

M

59.2%

32.7%

17.8%

9.5%

5.1%

2.8%

Bubba Watson

5

M

52.3%

26.0%

12.9%

6.3%

3.1%

1.5%

Hunter Mahan

6

M

51.8%

27.7%

14.4%

7.5%

3.9%

2.1%

Louis Oosthuizen

7

M

52.2%

25.1%

12.5%

6.2%

3.1%

1.4%

David Toms

8

M

46.5%

22.1%

10.8%

5.1%

2.4%

1.1%

Rickie Fowler

9

M

53.5%

27.6%

14.3%

7.3%

3.7%

2.0%

Aaron Baddeley

10

M

47.8%

21.9%

10.2%

4.8%

2.3%

1.0%

Zach Johnson

11

M

48.2%

24.9%

12.5%

6.3%

5.3%

2.7%

Ben Crane

12

M

47.7%

22.6%

10.6%

5.1%

2.4%

1.1%

Jonathan Byrd

13

M

40.8%

18.7%

8.2%

3.8%

1.7%

0.7%

Y.E. Yang

14

M

45.1%

20.2%

9.4%

4.3%

1.9%

0.8%

Kevin Na

15

M

42.3%

20.3%

9.5%

4.4%

2.1%

0.9%

Greg Chalmers

16

M

37.9%

16.4%

7.0%

2.9%

1.3%

0.5%

Rory McIlroy

1

S

64.8%

40.6%

24.5%

14.8%

8.6%

5.3%

Jason Day

2

S

61.4%

34.9%

19.1%

10.1%

5.4%

2.8%

Charl Schwartzel

3

S

54.6%

31.0%

16.9%

8.9%

4.5%

2.3%

Sergio Garcia

4

S

59.8%

33.2%

17.3%

9.3%

4.9%

2.6%

Keegan Bradley

5

S

49.7%

23.9%

11.2%

5.5%

2.5%

1.1%

Ian Poulter

6

S

55.1%

26.3%

13.1%

6.2%

2.9%

1.3%

Simon Dyson

7

S

46.7%

21.5%

10.1%

4.5%

2.0%

0.9%

Kyung-Tae Kim

8

S

49.1%

20.9%

9.7%

4.7%

2.1%

1.0%

Anders Hansen

9

S

50.9%

21.9%

10.5%

5.1%

2.3%

1.0%

John Senden

10

S

53.3%

26.3%

13.2%

6.2%

2.9%

1.2%

Sang-Moon Bae

11

S

44.9%

19.1%

8.5%

3.7%

1.5%

0.6%

Geoff Ogilvy

12

S

50.3%

24.6%

11.5%

5.9%

2.7%

1.2%

Miguel Angel Jimenez

13

S

40.3%

18.2%

7.8%

3.5%

1.5%

0.6%

Gary Woodland

14

S

45.4%

23.6%

11.6%

5.3%

2.5%

1.1%

Rafael Cabrera-Bello

15

S

38.6%

17.4%

7.5%

3.0%

1.2%

0.5%

George Coetzee

16

S

35.2%

16.7%

7.4%

3.3%

1.3%

0.5%

Lee Westwood

1

W

62.6%

36.9%

20.7%

12.0%

6.9%

4.1%

Webb Simpson

2

W

61.2%

35.1%

20.0%

10.5%

5.7%

3.1%

Bill Haas

3

W

60.5%

32.3%

16.5%

8.1%

4.1%

2.1%

Nick Watney

4

W

64.6%

32.6%

16.7%

8.8%

4.6%

2.4%

Tiger Woods

5

W

63.4%

38.0%

21.4%

12.5%

7.2%

4.2%

Justin Rose

6

W

57.1%

30.9%

15.9%

7.8%

4.0%

2.0%

Alvaro Quiros

7

W

46.8%

21.2%

10.2%

4.6%

2.2%

0.9%

Robert Karlsson

8

W

48.9%

22.1%

10.5%

5.3%

2.6%

1.2%

Fredrik Jacobson

9

W

51.1%

23.6%

11.5%

5.8%

3.0%

1.5%

Martin Laird

10

W

53.2%

25.9%

13.4%

6.3%

3.1%

1.4%

Paul Lawrie

11

W

42.9%

20.0%

8.8%

3.6%

1.6%

0.6%

Gonzalo Fernandez-Casta

12

W

36.6%

16.7%

7.1%

3.2%

1.5%

0.6%

Darren Clarke

13

W

35.5%

12.7%

4.7%

1.9%

0.7%

0.2%

Ryo Ishikawa

14

W

39.5%

16.8%

7.1%

2.7%

1.1%

0.4%

Matteo Manassero

15

W

38.8%

17.8%

8.2%

3.4%

1.5%

0.6%

Nicolas Colsaerts

16

W

37.4%

17.3%

7.5%

3.4%

1.5%

0.7%

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HUMANA CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS

Top 25:

Player

total wins

odds

Matt Kuchar

5.56%

1698

Phil Mickelson

4.28%

2236

Bill Haas

3.49%

2769

Dustin Johnson

3.17%

3060

Bo Van Pelt

3.04%

3194

Zach Johnson

2.82%

3450

Charles Howell III

2.79%

3482

Martin Laird

2.09%

4689

Brian Gay

1.86%

5282

Ryan Moore

1.84%

5323

Ben Crane

1.79%

5483

Bryce Molder

1.74%

5650

John Senden

1.68%

5859

Brandt Snedeker

1.66%

5917

Carl Pettersson

1.57%

6257

Kevin Na

1.48%

6643

Spencer Levin

1.45%

6787

David Toms

1.43%

6908

Anthony Kim

1.39%

7115

Bud Cauley

1.29%

7646

Chris Kirk

1.28%

7713

Brendon de Jonge

1.24%

7991

Rory Sabbatini

1.22%

8110

Jason Dufner

1.19%

8310

Fredrik Jacobson

1.16%

8551

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WEDNESDAY PRESIDENTS’ CUP LIVE ODDS

Overall:

     

Time

12:39 AM

TEAM RESULTS

OVERALL

odds

DAY 1

Odds

USA win

62.20%

-165

73.30%

-275

Intl win

30.70%

226

1.10%

8991

Tie

7.20%

1289

25.70%

289

Matches:

  

  

  

  

  

Time

12:39 AM

Match #

Thru

US TEAM

Win

Tie

Loss

INTERNATIONAL

Match 1

16

Bubba Watson/ Webb Simpson

100.00%

0.00%

0.00%

Ernie Els/ Ryo Ishikawa

Match 2

16

Bill Haas/ Nick Watney

32.50%

35.40%

32.10%

Geoff Ogilvy/ Charl Schwartzel

Match 3

14

Dustin Johnson/ Matt Kuchar

3.90%

11.30%

84.80%

Aaron Baddeley/ Jason Day

Match 4

12

Phil Mickelson/ Jim Furyk

98.70%

1.00%

0.30%

Retief Goosen/ Robert Allenby

Match 5

12

Hunter Mahan/ David Toms

99.20%

0.70%

0.10%

Kyung-Tae Kim/ Y.E. Yang

Match 6

12

Tiger Woods/ Steve Stricker

0.00%

0.00%

100.00%

Adam Scott/ K.J. Choi

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BETTER TO GRADUATE FROM Q-SCHOOL OR NW TOUR?

25 new players earned PGA Tour cards this week at the Nationwide Tour championship. But how well will they do next year?

In the past few years, Q-school grads have actually done better in terms of results than Nationwide Tour players.

But, that overlooks some circumstances. My guess would be that Q-school players tend to be slightly better overall. It seems there are more players that have been on the PGA Tour, had a bad year and had to go back to q-school, than on the Nationwide Tour.

So, I broke it down just by rookies over the past two years.

Rook yr Rounds Prev yr Rounds
Nationwide 0.1541 1521 0.0152 1682
Q-School 0.2205 1756 0.0883 945

Seems like the Nationwide Tour actually is a better proving ground. Not terribly surprising considering a whole season is a better predictor than the 10 or so rounds it takes to get through Q-school.

Of course, it’s silly to not think about other circumstances here, too. For example, Rickie Fowler was a Q-school grad, who based on his play after he turned pro would have fared quite well on the NW Tour had he played there. Also, in playing some big tournaments and in the fall finish he was clearly more prepared than the average rookie.

Also, consider Kyle Stanley. Stanley’s 2010 season on the Nationwide Tour was pretty good. For whatever reason, he didn’t make as much money as his level of play usually would. Then he qualified by Q-school. He actually has compared very similarly to Keegan Bradley in the last two years. Clearly he was ready for the PGA Tour.

So, that got me thinking, maybe number of pro rounds is a better predictor. Here’s a look at that breakdown

Players with over 70 rounds on major tours in season before PGA rookie year:

Rook yr Rounds Prev yr Rounds
Total 0.1154 1689 0.0349 2009
Nationwide Grads 0.1253 1184 0.0257 1442
Q-School Grads 0.0921 505 0.0585 567

This group is similar to the averages above for previous year, but a lot better in the rookie season on the PGA Tour. Mainly because to play a lot of rounds is usually a good sign of a better player and more rounds rules out the possibility of a fluke.

Players with between 30 and 60 rounds:

Rook yr Rounds Prev yr Rounds
Total 0.2482 599 0.0546 397
Nationwide Grads 0.2552 337 -0.0473 240
Q-School Grads 0.2392 262 0.2104 157

It didn’t really matter which way these guys came to the tour, they were a lot worse.

Players with less than 30:

Rook yr Rounds Prev yr Rounds
All from Q-school 0.218971 903 0.013158 163

Again, these players were not quite nearly as good as more tested players.

As the PGA Tour discusses ending Q-school it’s hard not to agree with them in some form. Players that pretty much qualify without being a member of at least the Nationwide Tour are not really ready for the PGA Tour. On the other hand, there are certain tested players, like Rickie Fowler or Kyle Stanley that failed or didn’t have the chance to qualify through the Nationwide Tour that are clearly ready. From the Tour’s perspective, more pro rounds are good for their incoming rookies as it helps eliminate the fluky players and prepares the good ones better.

Maybe the best solution for the Tour is most of the spots are earned from the Nationwide Tour, but there should still be some kind of last chance qualifying for players that are PGA Tour veterans off down years, experienced Nationwide Players and up and coming young college players with a lot of amateur success.

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CIMB ASIA PACIFIC CLASSIC RD 2

Updated after Round 2:

Player

total wins

odds

Fredrik Jacobson

29.44%

240

Bo Van Pelt

23.18%

331

Jeff Overton

19.79%

405

Stewart Cink

3.85%

2501

Mark Wilson

3.63%

2655

Jhonattan Vegas

3.37%

2872

Jimmy Walker

3.22%

3006

Camilo Villegas

1.99%

4938

Robert Allenby

1.97%

4976

Carl Pettersson

1.60%

6150

Jerry Kelly

1.15%

8596

Cameron Tringale

0.84%

11876

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Updated after Round 1:

Player

Tourney win

Money list

Tour Card

Avg. Money

Delta

Mark Anderson

7.40%

0.00%

99.81%

$220,547.24

0.98%

Camilo Benedetti

7.17%

0.00%

16.74%

$153,203.90

10.79%

Jason Kokrak

9.81%

9.11%

100.00%

$346,858.32

0.00%

Ted Potter Jr.

8.07%

29.56%

100.00%

$424,338.15

0.00%

Roger Tambellini

2.39%

0.00%

5.51%

$119,373.99

3.67%

Darron Stiles

3.04%

0.00%

21.07%

$170,863.30

12.05%

Roberto Castro

6.02%

0.00%

84.00%

$205,700.14

17.73%

Steve Wheatcroft

3.41%

0.00%

100.00%

$224,421.85

0.00%

Kyle Thompson

3.38%

0.00%

100.00%

$252,610.75

0.00%

Ryan Armour

1.83%

0.00%

5.56%

$132,264.17

2.51%

David Lingmerth

2.20%

0.00%

6.45%

$134,356.04

2.73%

Aaron Watkins

1.98%

0.00%

6.72%

$144,312.90

2.88%

Cliff Kresge

2.25%

0.00%

10.20%

$156,886.75

4.44%

Garth Mulroy

2.07%

0.00%

99.71%

$203,184.13

0.84%

Casey Wittenberg

1.44%

0.00%

5.67%

$141,012.74

1.20%

Rob Oppenheim

2.50%

0.00%

8.31%

$146,425.53

1.00%

Matt Davidson

2.08%

0.00%

8.40%

$153,677.17

1.63%

Kyle Reifers

0.79%

0.00%

100.00%

$243,044.54

0.00%

Mathew Goggin

2.50%

6.60%

100.00%

$388,047.82

0.00%

Greg Owen

0.83%

0.00%

3.13%

$123,931.37

-1.17%

Matt Hendrix

0.85%

0.00%

4.23%

$141,206.83

-0.41%

Jeff Gove

0.57%

0.00%

3.08%

$142,463.26

-0.39%

Paul Claxton

1.33%

0.00%

6.38%

$149,327.50

-1.32%

Tommy Biershenk

2.11%

0.00%

27.33%

$176,554.22

-0.27%

Brett Wetterich

2.26%

0.00%

46.31%

$185,846.39

0.20%

Matt Every

2.91%

0.00%

100.00%

$232,577.91

0.00%

John Mallinger

2.24%

0.24%

100.00%

$254,154.37

0.00%

Russell Knox

2.45%

0.55%

100.00%

$256,438.35

0.00%

Gary Christian

1.63%

1.07%

100.00%

$265,664.18

0.00%

Alistair Presnell

0.51%

0.00%

1.32%

$109,147.22

-1.06%

Travis Hampshire

0.38%

0.00%

1.05%

$108,790.04

-0.80%

John Kimbell

0.23%

0.00%

0.72%

$109,843.22

-0.54%

Craig Bowden

0.27%

0.00%

0.88%

$110,907.41

-0.63%

Andrew Svoboda

0.81%

0.00%

2.16%

$118,982.89

-2.24%

Aaron Goldberg

1.02%

0.00%

3.49%

$133,439.56

-2.21%

Will Wilcox

0.56%

0.00%

2.78%

$141,529.14

-2.17%

Ken Duke

0.49%

0.00%

3.18%

$144,951.90

-1.77%

r Richard H. Lee

0.29%

0.00%

3.71%

$150,901.73

-2.00%

Josh Broadaway

0.31%

0.00%

16.56%

$172,541.02

-1.20%

Billy Hurley III

1.12%

0.00%

41.70%

$182,096.34

-3.61%

Daniel Chopra

0.24%

0.00%

26.39%

$176,562.05

0.26%

Martin Flores

0.69%

0.00%

95.78%

$191,023.23

3.13%

Jonas Blixt

1.01%

0.97%

100.00%

$314,307.10

0.00%

Danny Lee

0.59%

0.56%

100.00%

$310,794.91

0.00%

Justin Bolli

0.21%

0.00%

0.51%

$111,021.81

-0.83%

B.J. Staten

0.36%

0.00%

1.34%

$131,213.17

-2.35%

Brian Smock

0.40%

0.00%

2.25%

$142,552.72

-3.51%

James Nitties

0.52%

0.00%

45.01%

$180,622.92

-6.77%

Gavin Coles

0.43%

0.00%

100.00%

$236,895.30

0.00%

Erik Compton

0.30%

0.00%

100.00%

$236,800.98

0.00%

Steve Friesen

0.01%

0.00%

0.16%

$125,257.14

-0.80%

Bubba Dickerson

0.15%

0.00%

0.49%

$131,623.12

-2.00%

Luke List

0.20%

0.00%

1.31%

$142,497.10

-4.12%

J.J. Killeen

0.68%

51.19%

100.00%

$421,978.13

0.00%

Marco Dawson

0.23%

0.00%

4.27%

$156,465.76

-11.83%

Scott Brown

0.09%

0.00%

75.69%

$181,834.91

-4.02%

Troy Kelly

0.17%

0.11%

100.00%

$252,974.31

0.00%

Miguel Carballo

0.08%

0.04%

100.00%

$262,497.15

0.00%

Kirk Triplett

0.14%

0.00%

0.46%

$119,528.25

-4.58%

Brenden Pappas

0.00%

0.00%

0.18%

$139,177.63

-3.43%

Roberto Castro made the biggest move today. He jumped from about 2 in 3 to make the PGA Tour next season to 84%. Mark Anderson also pretty much clinched his tour card today as the first round leader.

On the negative side, James Nitties was about 50-50 entering the round and now is in the mid 40s to make the Tour. Marco Dawson was the biggest percentage drop on the day, but only started at 16% to make the PGA Tour anyway and now is less than 6%.

Brett Wetterich, Nitties, and Billy Hurley III are in the biggest spots right now. Each is between 40 and 47-percent to earn their tour card next season. Nitties sits at No. 25 right now in terms of projected average money.

On average, it will take $178,663.25 to make it into “The 25.”

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