Did Michael Sim make the wrong decision?
Reading his logic here, it seems sound enough. He obviously had some questions whether he could get a 3-wood 245 in the air, so wanted to avoid the penalty shot.
For 71 holes, that is absolutely the right decision. On the 72nd, it gets a bit more complicated.
Let’s reset the scenario:
-Ben Crane is 80 yards out on the fairway lying 2, with a one shot lead(-13).
-Sim is lying 1, with 245 yards to carry the pond in front of the 18th green.
-Hurricane Steve Marino is in the clubhouse with a 77
-The clubhouse lead is -12.
I don’t think there was any worse than a 10% chance that Crane makes bogey from that spot, shaky putting aside. Crane averages about 18 feet on proximity from 75-100 yds. He makes ~20% of those putts. Add in the water, pressure and easy pin and I’ll estimate Crane at
Those are just guesses, but the moral of the story is Michael Sim needs to play for the birdie. On any other hole, bringing the water(and penalty) into play is the wrong decision. On the last the hole of the tournament, you need to play for the outlier. The possibility of 6 or 7 doesn’t matter.
Consider the trade-off:
Eagle- Probable winner. 954,000 dollars. Two-year PGA Tour exemption. Sponsor bonuses. Exemptions in majors/bigger tournaments
Birdie- Playoff. Basically 50% chance of all of the above happening.
Par- -12. ~10% chance of making a 4-way playoff. 395,000 dollars. No exemptions.
Bogey- $186,000 tie for fifth.
It’s hard to be exact, but you’d have to say the benefits of winning this tournament outweigh the risks of losing about $210,000. On 99% of the holes that Michael Sim plays this year, taking the water out of play would be the right call. In this case, I think he had to go for the outlier.