Monthly Archives: July 2009

HIT IT CLOSE, STUPID

Was Tiger’s 63, the best round of his season?

Hardly, although compared to his last three rounds it sure looks like it. Actually Tiger’s first round at Quail Hollow, first round at the AT&T National and final round at the Memorial were all better in relation to the field.

The key to Tiger’s turnaround today, aside from the Law of Averages, was he hit the ball a lot closer to the hole. Here is a look at Tiger’s hole-by-hole breakdown through the first two rounds. Distance is in feet.
Loc=Location of shot.
G=Green
F=Fairway
R=Rough
B=Bunker
Light blue is birdie, dark blue is eagle and light brown means bogey. Par is white.
tigerrd2
Here is some more breakdowns from Tiger based on how far away from the hole is birdie attempts were in feet:
birdorb=Birdie or better %
bogow=Bogey or worse %
tigerftrd2
As you can see, hitting the ball closer to the hole is a good thing. Tiger’s birdies have come from an average of 5.4 feet, part from 24.88 feet from the hole and bogeys from 40.88 feet. On the flip side of this, John Daly who shot 88 today and a 51 on the front was an average of 66.8 yards away from the hole for birdie.

Moral of the story: hit it close, stupid.

The Odds:
buickop2
A few quick notes:
-Tiger’s price is ludicrous. This is a terrible field, but Senden is pretty good(about equal to Na), but coming off a 63(The greatest round ever BTW) against an obviously terrible field Tiger to NOT win is the definitely the right thing to do.

-I still think Tiger is not quite back to 100%. He did hit the ball better today, but he also made an absurd amount of 10 foot putts. Part of that is luck. Oh, and for the record, Kevin Na’s average birdie attempt was closer than Tiger’s today, although he putted like the American(?) Alex Noren.

-Pretty sure John Daly’s 88 is going to be the worst round shot on the 3 tours I keep track of in the past year. When the course average is under par and you shoot 88 that is not good at all.

-Alex Noren: 14 greens, 37 putts. Are you kidding me. 37 putts. 37 putts. That is horrendous for a pro golfer. 40% scrambling for the week, too.

Picks:
Tiger to NOT win -130(1)
Spencer Levin -110 v. David Duval(1)

Good luck and enjoy the weekend.

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SftC: I HOPE PEOPLE AREN’T LISTENING TO ME

Because I currently sit at L4.

Taking the Phillies-Giants 3 runs or more, for no other reason then It would be kind of cool to get a negative red star. If it wins, it wins.

Tomorrow:
I’ll probably be in Grand Blanc Michigan for most of the day. I don’t really care about the cricket, because I’ll be max at 1, and I’m afraid that will limit other possibilites.

Tiger under 33.5 is potentially pretty good. I made the following chart:
sftctiger
As always, this is based on the course playing at a similar difficulty tomorrow as it did today.

For this to be 50-50, Tiger would have to be well worse than any conceivable average I have for Tiger, except his last three rounds. I think it is pretty safe to say Tiger under 33.5 lies in the 60-65% range. That will be my early pick.

After that Furyk is my pick(56%) against Yang for the first 9 holes. I’m taking Furyk even though SV Reid W/D is around 62% JA because at a low number I think a smaller pct + chance of getting a second option is better than just taking one higher % option. 5-6% is not going to be the difference between me getting to Bristol and staying at home.

A lot of options later, but I’ll figure those out on the fly.

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TIGER WOODS DOES NOT NEED TO HIT FAIRWAYS

People need to shut up with this line of thinking.

Tiger is not playing worse than last year because he is missing fairways. He is playing worse than last year because he is not hitting the ball as close to the pin.

GIR is by far the most important stat on the PGA Tour that tells the difference between playing well and not. Sure, the difference between 1 and 5 is often a few putts made, but the difference between playing well and missing cuts is much more accurately represented in Greens hit.

Right now, Tiger is rusty and not hitting as many greens or as close to the pin as he did last year.

Oh, and TIGER IS ACTUALLY HITTING MORE FAIRWAYS THIS YEAR than last. Probably should mention that. His GIR is down from and incredible 70% to around 66% this year. That is the biggest difference.

It’s also worth mentioning that Tiger is still by far the best golfer in the world. There is as much difference between Tiger and number 2 in my rankings than number 2 and number 57. So, if you’re Tiger the best way to practice is actually not hit the driver or 3 wood or anything else he might tee off with and just practice his irons shots from 100-200 yards from all lies. When that falls back into place I have a feeling the game comes with it and the “Hit more fairways” idiots go back into the wood works rooting for Phil.

As Ben Hogan said, “The way to make more putts, is to hit the ball closer.”

Odds
buickopen1
If you thought I was wasting my time on the Moravia Silesia Open you were sorely mistaken. Senden is having a great year and I almost put him on my sleeper list yesterday. The problem is I can’t find the upside. I’m considering him for an in-runner, but I will probably hold off for that reason.

Picks
Posted here later…

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SftC: ZERO

Already extended my streak to L2 on a mispick with Verplank. Not like it mattered a whole lot because that was essentially a toss-up.

Next up, I’m thinking Tiger. Tiger historically dominates par-5s and that has been the case at Warwick Hills too. 18 strokes equates to -2 on four holes and I checked back and he has scored 18 or lower in 7/12 of his last three appearances at the Buick Open.

Elsewhere we have, The Mets, who are probably close to what Tiger is(55-60% range), Boca Juniors(unplayable -118) and Baltimore who is slightly better than the Mets. None of the other early options are as good as that. For me, it was a toss-up between the Mets, Orioles, and Tiger 18 or fewer. I like golf so I went with Tiger.

Later, there is no option that makes me feel confident in getting 2 so I’ll just take the best game. That seems to be the Pheonix Mercury although they are definitely not good enough to be getting 99.5% of the action. That leaves me with a decent shot of deciding on a 4-6 inning angle in the Giants and Phils game.

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WHO GIVES A CRAP OPENS PART TWO

Part of what makes a sport entertaining or interesting to follow is the down weeks or periods that remind us what we are missing. So, Thank you to the Buick and Silesian Opens.

As the PGA Tour gears up for six solid tournamentsin eight weeks there is a rather lackluster field this week in Warwick Hills. Hey, at least Tiger is playing.

While much of the focus has been on Tiger, his errant driving, worst performance EVER at Turnberry, bad temper, final Buick Open, I think that misses out on the real story here. This field just plain sucks.

Take out Tiger, Furyk, Gay, Leonard and Watney and you basically have the US Bank Championship. It seems that most of the top pros are resting this week in preparation for a busy two months.

With the top pros out, I felt like it wasn’t entirely necessary to put a lot of thought into this week. Picks are at the end, but I thought I would take this time to draw out a tenative game plan for the next two months.

Big Tournaments:
Firestone
US PGA at Hazeltine
Barclays
Deutsche Bank
BMW Championship
BMW Tour Championship

People can criticize the Fed-Ex cup all they want, but name another stretch of the golf season where for two months straight the top players in the world are assembled in the United States playing against each other. You can’t.

Tiger
Tiger has to be as close to a lock as possible to win at least two of these tournaments. He dominates Firestone. He finished second at the PGA at Hazeltine. He has a good history at TPC Boston and the Tour Championship and He DOMINATES Cog Hill. Add to that the media screaming from the mountain tops that he can’t hit the ball anymore(somewhat true, he is hitting the ball or playing as well as last year, but hes still the best by a lot) and Tiger is the obvious pick to win the Fed-Ex cup again this year.

Surprisers:
Number one on my list is Steve Marino, although after a successful Open Championship he is not as surprising anymore. Marino, I think is tailormade for Liberty National and TPC Boston and that’s where I think he will do some damage.

Number two on my list is Kevin Na. Can’t figure out why he is not getting the respect he deserves for being a up and coming player having his best season on the PGA Tour so far. I actually like him again this week(hint, hint.)

For number three, I am throwing out a name from the past, DJ Trahan. Some folks may remember DJ painfully missing out on the top-5 at Firestone last year when he bogeyed the last. Okay, maybe that was just me.

I think Cog Hill and Firestone have DJ Trahan’s name written all over them (although I am calling at least one 8 on Firestone’s 16th) and I wouldn’t be surprised to see his name at the top of that leaderboard. BTW, Trahan would be tops on my list below, If he didn’t jump out immediately to me.

Now, it’s time to come up with some new sleepers out of the blue. To do this I used the following criteria.
-Hasn’t made a name for himself.
-Top 100 in my rankings(~-.2)
-Near the top of the PGA Tour in GIR’s
-Played at some Hard courses/elite field events this year.
-25-30 Years old.

This was all I really found, besides DJ:
-Spencer Levin: Hasn’t really played against top fields yet, but fits every other criteria. At 135 on the Moneylist right now, the playoffs might be a stretch, but I’m thinking fall series all star.

I would like to add a special exemption to this list for Camilo Villegas. Aside from making a pretty big name for himself, he has to be included as some kind of under-the-radar player right now. He is hitting a ton of greens, keeps popping up on leaderboards against strong fields, and I think remains somewhat underrated with a lot of upside until we get to the “defending champion Camilo Villegas” portion of the playoffs.

What were you thinking?:
To the PGA Tour for moving the Barclays to Liberty National. They had an classic style course that produced tons of excitement last year(Mahan 61, Sergio and Vijay making Clutch Putts!) and they moved it to another generic modern course.

Heading for a letdown
-Retief Goosen: Let’s see: multiple major champion, great recent results, over 40. Probably not a good combination unless he has been hanging out with Tom Watson.

Aside from the fact that Furyk is a better player, there is an eerie similarity between Jim Furyk and Goosen. Both are aging, sneaky good and play like Ricky Barnes in the final round of a tournament when they are in contention. My gut says Goosen is more overrated, though.

-Phil Mickelson: I hate to guess on things like this, but unless Phil’s wife is as annoying as the girl from John and Kate +8, he probably hasn’t been working on the short game too much. That could be a problem, because Phil traditionally does not overwhelm anyone with his ball striking. Popular name, always overvalued coming off a break from golf, that seems like something I want to be on the other side of.

Other Ideas:
Ian Poulter- is glaringly low on the GIR stats for someone who has as many high profile finishes/twitter followers. Could be because he plays mostly on the harder tracks on the US Tour.

Brandt Snedeker- Not sure how much of Brandt’s terrible start to the season can be fairly attributed to injury and how much can be blamed for just being bad. On the season Brandt has not hit a lot of greens, but he has started to turn around his swing a bit, based on his last 3 PGA Tour starts. Probably, just avoid this even though the three flashy recent results are screaming out, “Fade Me!”

Buick Open:
Kevin Na +8500 to win(.23)
Kevin Na +1000 Top-5 (.9)

Na +105 v. Snedeker(1)
Levin -150 v. Duval(1)

It’s probably not a good idea to talk yourself into plays in the Buick Open, but I think that is what I may have done. The deciding edge on Na was, even at his best, do I think Snedeker is better? Obviously, I thought that answer was no.

Levin is a lot better than Mr. Duval, is unheard of, I just singled him out as a fall series all star, this is basically the Frys.com Open + Tiger, Duval is well know, apparently more popular now, but still old and generally not very good. That’s how I rationalized it, but I guarantee both of these lose.

Silesian Open:
Making the Buick Open look like the Tour Championship since 2009.
Alex Noren to win +6050(.32)
Top-5 +1200(.77)

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NEWEST TOP-50

Adjusted across PGA, EPGA and NW Tours for the past calender year.
wgr072509

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MEANINGFUL PAST PERFORMANCE…KIND OF

Just looked back at the British Open, and found the R-squared value between the British Open results and past week’s results.
pastperformance
I got kind of lazy here and only bother going back 36 weeks, I also didn’t double check the schedule for exact dates of tournaments, so there is a lot that is off here, but I was just looking for a quick answer.

Not surprisingly, 36 weeks seems to be a better predictor than the last month. 52 weeks had an r-squared value of .44, so that was even better. This isn’t too shocking, but still I would like to take another look at this. (Probably after the BMW Championship, where all players will have a similar recent schedule, and similar amount of rounds, plus I will have almost two full years of Data)

Stay tuned for that, I guess…

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