And with Captains picks like Ryo and Adam Scott he sure needs it. The idea from this post came from AM, who suggested that Norman use up his worst players(Yang, Ryo) against Tiger and “concede” that match in return for a better chance in the other match-ups.

Before I get started we should point out that I am 99% sure Greg Norman is every bit the fearless leader that Brad Childress is, and there is no way he put this much thought into his match-ups. The second point is, as always, thanks to XLSsports for the sims.

I started out just looking at potential singles match-ups. Ryo at slightly above average is the worst player on the team. Yang is second worst. Camilo Villegas by my rankings is first and Tim Clark is the median(also beat Tiger at the Accenture). This table should be fairly explanatory in that the first column is the player’s odds against Tiger, and the second column is the rest of the International team’s average against the US(w/o Tiger) average.

This second one is from 100,000 simulations using the above odds. The percentages are chances of getting that many points or better. Best chance is highlighted in yellow:

As you can see, AM was right. In every possible point outcome, “Conceding” the match with Tiger is the better way to go. That would give the international team the best chance of winning the most points at every number.

Again, I’m pretty sure this is more thought than any President’s/Ryder cup captain has ever put into pairings, but there is a good chance that Norman actually puts Ryo or Yang against Tiger on Sunday.

Unlike the randomness of the Ryder Cup, the President’s Cup pairings are selected face-to-face and one match at a time. Norman may not know much about actual skill of golfers, but he(/Finchem) know what pairings will drive interest on Sunday. Luckily for him, Tiger/Ryo would be huge with NBC as it features current #1, vs. potential future #1 and it would be even bigger in Japan. Tiger/Yang would be popular as well as Yang soundly kicked Tiger’s ass all around Chaska, MN less than two months ago. If this is the case, I will probably be all over El Tigre.

Through no skill of his own(Don’t worry Couples probably doesn’t care either, though his captains picks were at least competent), there is a good chance Norman will luck into the best possible Sunday pairings.

The second part of this is the group play. Come Saturday Norman’s decision should be easy when he can sit two players in each session. He should sit Yang/Ryo in each session. Obvious choice as there is a noticeable gap between them and the rest of the international team.

On the US side, the entire team, with the exception of Tiger is more or less the same. Sure Stricker/Furyk/Mickelson are somewhat clear of the rest of the team, but it’s really not much. On the International side, there is a noticeable gap between the best Villegas(slightly above US Team Average) and the worst(Ryo/Yang) who have only barely proven to be US PGA Tour average players. So, Fred Couples, as long as he plays Tiger 36 on Saturday, will probably get away with not putting 2 seconds of thought into it, while Norman will have to be more selective.

For Thursday and Friday, Norman has a tougher choice. Again, I broke down Tiger’s(paired with US Average) potential opponents into several groups: Yang/Ryo(worst), Ryo/Clark(worst-median) and Villegas/Allenby(best-best*)

*This is why I am NOT taking the decent offering at the Greek on the International team(for now). By what I came up with yesterday, they are both value(Int’l +.5 is better), but I neither want to go against whatever home advantage might be worth on the golf course, nor take a team who most people assume Ogilvy, Els, Goosen, Cabrera(I hate them all individually) are the best, when they are clearly not.

Again, the Internationals will be better off putting Ryo/Yang together and “conceding the Tiger match.” I only did this for fourballs, because I didn’t feel like spending the time doing foursomes, too, assuming that it would also follow the pattern I am already noticing. Here are the results:
Again, Ryo/Yang is a better option at all point values:

Finally I decided to run one last sim, with the best International strategy:
-Sit Ryo/Yang both sessions on Saturday
-“Concede” the Sunday Singles to Tiger with Ryo.
-“Concede” a Thursday/Friday match each by matching Tiger’s pairing with Ryo and Yang.
-When Ryo and Yang are sitting out all of Saturday, match Tiger up against the remaining two worst players(assuming this is still the best way to do it): Angel Cabrera and Adam Scott.

Here is what I got:
At just under 33%, that bumps up the average almost 4% from my previous projection and gives the International’s an average of a little under a half point more. It’s not like it will swing the whole President’s cup, but it a smart Captain’s strategy could give them a few key points.

As far as I can tell, this is the best strategy for Fred Couples:
-Tiger plays 5 matches
-As soon as Norman announces his strongest team*, Couples should counter with Woods or Woods/Furyk, Woods/Stricker, whatever his Tiger pairing is.

*God knows if Couples can figure this out, but basically he should look to counter some combination of Villegas/Allenby/Els/Goosen/Ogilvy with his Tiger pairing. In short, the US’s biggest strength is its overall depth.

It’s would also be interesting to see, how the international’s should counter the likely number two pairing of Mickelson-Kim/Mahan. I’m not sure conceding that is the best idea since a Allenby/Villegas pairing would be about 43.5-43.5-13 with them. If I was getting paid by the PGA and got to hang out with Michael Jordan, I might take the time to figure it out.

As we saw with Donald on Monday morning, this type of logic is not proven to work all the time, but if they played this President’s cup 100,000 times(hard for people to grasp this concept) This is the best strategy for Norman to maximize his team’s points(a good thing).

In related news, Baseball AND President’s Cup, I smell a live chat boiling for Thursday afternoon.



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  1. cajuncook

    haha this is a great post; highly enjoyable. I love this kind of theoretical stuff.

  2. Pairings are out. Doesn’t appear Couples or Norman put one ounce of thought into other than who is friends(who cares?) and who plays the same golf ball(might be an issue).


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