Monthly Archives: May 2010

“THE BIG FIVE” AND STEVE STRICKER

I realize the top-15 lists are a little hard to read. Here’s a graph showing each player in the aforementioned years with their rankings converted to a stroke score and assuming the average PGA Pro shoots a 72 every round.

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LOOKING BACK AT PAST YEARS

I’ve been slowly inputting some past years(before 2008) into my rankings to add some historical perspective. So far, I have 2002 and 2003, for the PGA Tour only and 2004,2008-10 across NW, EPGA and PGA tours.

The results from the NW and EPGA Tours prior to 2004 are going to be too big a pain in the ass to track down and input so I doubt they’ll ever make it into my numbers, but I plan on extending my PGA Tour rankings back to at least Tiger’s first year(it will take awhile).

Anyway, here’s the top-15 players by year:

2002-pga only

1 Tiger Woods -1.11 68 0.951
2 Retief Goosen -0.73 54 0.836
3 Vijay Singh -0.70 96 0.835
4 Phil Mickelson -0.69 98 0.938
5 David Toms -0.67 102 0.866
6 Padraig Harrington -0.65 32 0.737
7 Ernie Els -0.64 66 0.918
8 Nick Price -0.63 70 0.847
9 Justin Leonard -0.60 97 0.831
10 Davis Love III -0.50 91 0.855
11 Chris DiMarco -0.50 105 0.830
12 Jim Furyk -0.50 88 0.826
13 Fred Funk -0.49 110 0.787
14 Sergio Garcia -0.49 76 0.920
15 Charles Howell III -0.49 115 0.935

2003-pga only

1 Tiger Woods -1.02 68 0.880
2 Vijay Singh -0.92 102 0.794
3 Mike Weir -0.79 75 0.795
4 Jim Furyk -0.79 101 0.758
5 Ernie Els -0.78 60 0.748
6 Retief Goosen -0.75 64 0.857
7 Davis Love III -0.70 79 0.823
8 Padraig Harrington -0.59 36 0.688
9 Kenny Perry -0.58 97 0.912
10 Chad Campbell -0.57 102 0.884
11 Fred Couples -0.54 67 0.886
12 Scott Verplank -0.50 96 0.937
13 Jay Haas -0.48 83 0.928
14 David Toms -0.48 81 0.980
15 Justin Leonard -0.48 75 0.894
42 Phil Mickelson -0.31 80 0.951

2004

1 Tiger Woods -0.95 76 0.804
2 Vijay Singh -0.92 118 0.887
3 Ernie Els -0.90 90 0.867
4 Phil Mickelson -0.77 80 0.942
5 Retief Goosen -0.74 82 0.857
6 Sergio Garcia -0.68 80 0.789
7 Stewart Cink -0.65 96 0.830
8 Stephen Ames -0.59 94 0.925
9 Scott Verplank -0.58 90 0.938
10 Jay Haas -0.57 78 0.813
11 Luke Donald -0.56 96 0.866
12 Adam Scott -0.56 74 0.988
13 Davis Love III -0.55 75 0.948
14 Angel Cabrera -0.53 63 0.892
15 David Toms -0.53 74 0.833

2008

1 Tiger Woods -1.310 24 0.901
2 Phil Mickelson -0.686 90 0.819
3 Sergio Garcia -0.659 94 0.788
4 Anthony Kim -0.608 91 0.890
5 Robert Karlsson -0.602 86 0.786
6 Vijay Singh -0.577 82 0.850
7 Padraig Harrington -0.556 82 0.923
8 Lee Westwood -0.552 91 0.877
9 Jim Furyk -0.551 94 0.763
10 Camilo Villegas -0.528 90 0.868
11 Robert Allenby -0.513 119 0.841
12 Henrik Stenson -0.497 79 0.916
13 Adam Scott -0.476 69 1.123
14 Stewart Cink -0.464 82 0.793
15 Justin Leonard -0.440 95 0.858

2009

1 Tiger Woods -1.153 70 0.839
2 Steve Stricker -0.747 83 0.980
3 Jim Furyk -0.663 87 0.942
4 Zach Johnson -0.605 92 0.863
5 Paul Casey -0.581 61 0.965
6 Hunter Mahan -0.536 96 0.844
7 Kenny Perry -0.516 95 0.978
8 Nick Watney -0.507 98 0.889
9 Lee Westwood -0.507 94 1.022
10 Phil Mickelson -0.500 71 1.057
11 Retief Goosen -0.495 109 0.966
12 Padraig Harrington -0.487 97 0.852
13 Martin Kaymer -0.486 82 0.755
14 Ian Poulter -0.485 88 0.883
15 David Toms -0.482 98 0.834

2010

1 Lee Westwood -0.75 38 0.92
2 Anthony Kim -0.72 35 1.08
3 Phil Mickelson -0.70 40 0.87
4 Steve Stricker -0.69 28 0.92
5 Ernie Els -0.63 45 0.79
6 Matt Kuchar -0.62 41 0.81
7 K.J. Choi -0.60 48 0.79
8 Robert Allenby -0.58 40 0.87
9 Charl Schwartzel -0.58 38 0.95
10 Jim Furyk -0.57 34 0.97
11 Luke Donald -0.55 38 0.81
12 Retief Goosen -0.55 31 0.89
13 Louis Oosthuizen -0.53 28 0.91
14 Francesco Molinari -0.51 38 0.78
15 Tim Clark -0.51 37 0.88
19 Tiger Woods -0.49 9 1.1

I wanted to look this up so I could cool down my opinions on Phil and Tiger, but as far as I can tell I ended up more resolutely believing in them.

I still have a lot to fill in but 2002-2004, would definitely not be called great years by Tiger’s standards yet his performance remained about the same. The biggest difference could possibly be called luck.

On the other hand, Phil Mickelson seems to range from clearly not the second best golfer in the world to arguably the second best golfer in the world. I’m not familiar enough with his performance pre-2002 or from 2005-2007, but as far as I can tell he has NEVER been CLEARLY the second best golfer in the world as the media seems to widely believe. I definitely need more research, but I’m leaning towards the opinion that Phil is the most overrated player in the history of golf.

I would never make a judgment based on two players alone, but if Vijay Singh and Steve Stricker are any indication Tiger could be pushing 30 majors by the time his career is over. I find it hard to believe Vijay had any better seasons than 2002-2003, when he was well into his forties. Likewise, Stricker has most likely had his best years in his forties, too. If the same thing applies to Tiger and his motivation stays high, he is going to win A LOT more majors.

I think these historical year-by-year rankings are going to come in really handy when evaluating players outside of just my 2-year rankings. Unfortunately, it takes awhile to copy down old results, but I’ll keep posting them when I do.

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2010 CROWNE PLAZA COLONIAL

CONTENDERS

Michael Sim
I can’t quite say why, but I love Michael Sim this week. Despite returning from an extended layoff, Sim has played almost exactly to his 2-year average in his first two starts back. Other than that, I think he is generally underrated and if last week really does count for a little more than other tournaments, Sim has a sneaky good finish of t-23 last week. What that doesn’t mention is that Sim had an 8 on one hole with 2 balls lost in the water. Colonial figures to present less trouble in terms of water and it shouldn’t over power Sim, either.

Steve Stricker

Sometime last spring I would have told you, “I think Steve Stricker is underrated, but I’m not going to take a shot with a guy that at his age figures to have little upside.” Four wins and 11 top tens later, that statement clearly looks pretty silly. Obviously, he’s coming off and injury, but even Stricker at less than 100% is still easily one of the top-10 players in this field.

PRETENDERS:
Phil Mickelson
I feel like there is something, I’m missing with Phil Mickelson, because I just don’t see what everyone else does. On his career, Mickelson could be expected to win about once every ten events. That’s certainly good, but in it no means makes him hands down the second best player in the world right now, pushing on number one. Phil is certainly one of the three best players in the field, but I’m just not sure what clearly separates him from Furyk or Stricker.

MATCH-UPS:
Stricker v. Tim Clark
The books should just add 40 cents to any line they plan on releasing on a player that is making his return. These get bet up every time, and I can’t help but think that they knew what they were doing when they released the line.

Kenny Perry v. KJ Choi

Again, I’m hesitant to make a stand on Kenny Perry at his age, but when the only knock on him is that he isn’t as positive in the press as he has been the past few years, color me skeptical that K.J. Choi is actually better. Perry has a strong history at Colonial and is coming off two strong outings, both of which you would normally be paying for. Other than that, I think he’s been better than Choi over 2 years, even with wildly different 2010 results.

Geoff Ogilvy v. Choi
Take out the SBS Championship and Geoff Ogilvy has been downright mediocre this year. That scares me a little, because I’m usually worried Ogilvy has played over his head a little in the past year. I just can’t see how Choi isn’t overrated at this point, though, and that means


Furyk v. Mickelson

I just don’t see how other than general public perception you can treat these two players as anything less than equal. Other than Furyk’s MC at the Masters, Furyk has been better with more wins and just as many top tens as Mickelson.

Hunter Mahan v. Ben Crane
I think this is another classic case of overrating recent results. Mahan has rather anonymously posted some decent results(except last week) following a win earlier this year in Phoenix, while the perennially underrated Crane has finished in the top ten in his last two starts. Here’s the problem, there is nothing since 2008 that suggests this can continue in the long run.

Zach Johnson v. HurricaneSteve
I personally gaurantee Steve Marino will win this match-up, but you would be hard pressed to set Steve Marino in the same class as Zach Johnson, man crushes aside. Obviously Marino’s playoff loss last year is the reason he is favored here, but I’m not buying that event alone makes him a better player overall than Johnson.

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IS TIGER WOODS A RYDER CUP LOCK?

Yesterday, the insane news that Corey Pavin might not take Tiger Woods floated across the wires. Of course, it was made even more insane by the fact the media treated it like Pavin would actually not do it.

That raised the question: Is Tiger Woods a lock?

I started with my rankings from 2009-2010, which is the period since the last Ryder Cup. In that time, Tiger has 79 stroke play rounds where he is about 3.1 strokes better than the average PGA Tour pro.

I then wondered, what if Tiger missed the cut in his next 10 events?(prompted by this tweet).

To start, the cut at a PGA Tour event is usually right around the field average. That is, if you play better than average you make money, if you play worse, you’re going home early.

For the sake of argument, I guessed that Tiger would be a full shot worse than the field average over his next 20 rounds(10 MCs) and added that to what I already have. If that is the case, Tiger will be around 2.25 shots better than the average PGA Tour player over a full two years.

Doesn’t mean too much, until you consider that Strcker, Mickelson and Furyk are about 1.9 strokes better per round than the average PGA Tour player during the past two years. Tiger Woods could play his next 20 rounds a 1 shot worse than the PGA Tour average and still be BETTER than any other golfer in the world over the past 2 years.

So, what would it take for Tiger to not qualify for the US Ryder Cup team. Currently the 13th US spot in my rankings is occupied by Lucas Glover who is slightly over 1 shot better than the PGA Tour average per round. Assuming Tiger plays those same 20 rounds, Tiger would have to be about 7 shots worse than the average to fall below that 13th spot.

Tiger could probably shoot 78 for the next 20 rounds and there he would still be inside the top-12 Americans. That’s what no one really understands about Tiger. You can’t compare him to Phil, Stricker, Furyk, Westwood, Garcia, Singh or any other golfer of this era. He has been so incredibly dominant that he is truly in a class of his own.

Now it should be mentioned that Tiger is exceedingly unlikely to miss 10 straight cuts. Even for an average PGA Tour golfer, missing the cut 10 straight times has about a one-tenth of a percent chance of happening. For Tiger, who has only missed 6 cuts in his professional career missing 10 in a row is almost impossible.

Anything can happen, but if you take a long-sighted view, there is almost no way Tiger will not be one of the 12 best Americans come September. Sounds like a lock to me.

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CAN JORDAN SPIETH WIN IT?

Well, I don’t know, but based on the average player on tour in the last two years with less than 20 rounds, Spieth is about 178-1. The average player with less than 20 rounds, was definitely not the #1 ranked junior golfer in the US, so it will be interesting to see what the books come up with.

Jason Day 46.02% 117
Blake Adams 19.58% 411
Jeff Overton 12.71% 687
Kenny Perry 6.88% 1353
Tom Pernice Jr. 3.47% 2782
Mark Hensby 2.36% 4144
Sean O’Hair 2.22% 4412
D.A. Points 1.49% 6606
Heath Slocum 1.24% 7938
Corey Pavin 0.62% 16119
Arjun Atwal 0.61% 16211
Jordan Spieth 0.56% 17870

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NICE ROUND, BOBBY

I’ll admit I wasn’t paying attention this morning only to see Robert Karlsson had put up a 62 on the newly redone Wentworth course. What’s more impressive is that he had made it home to Monaco, before he found out he had actually made the cut, then returned and fired a course record.

More impressive still, is how few players actually got close to him. Seung-yul Noh had a 66, Chris Wood threw up a 67, and there were 4 other players with a 68 or 69. That’s only 6 players who stayed within 7 shots of Robert Karlsson.

In relation to the field, Karlsson’s round will probably be the best all year, topping Rory McIlroy’s final round at Quail Hollow and Jim Herman’s first in the Nationwide Tour’s Moonah Classic. It’s not often that a player goes from around 850-1 to win to +375 in one round of golf.

Well done, Robert.

Chris Wood 33.44% 199
Robert Karlsson 21.06% 375
Danny Willett 13.39% 647
Luke Donald 12.70% 687
Paul Casey 4.82% 1973
Padraig Harrington 4.40% 2172
Marcel Siem 1.99% 4931
Thomas Aiken 1.59% 6177
James Kingston 1.32% 7494
Stephen Gallacher 1.03% 9607

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TEXAS OPEN ROUND 1

Clearly I have no idea what I’m talking about because I forgot to factor in birth location, wind direction and sexual orientation along with a myriad of other factors when coming up with these.

Matt Jones 11.68% 756
J.B. Holmes 9.69% 931
Charley Hoffman 9.17% 991
Ernie Els 4.02% 2390
Matt Weibring 3.44% 2808
Sergio Garcia 2.70% 3602
Adam Scott 2.46% 3963
Steve Flesch 2.22% 4395
Steve Lowery 2.05% 4772
James Nitties 2.02% 4843
Tim Petrovic 2.02% 4858
Fredrik Jacobson 1.90% 5164
Marc Leishman 1.84% 5322
Bo Van Pelt 1.76% 5589
Tom Gillis 1.73% 5691
Mathias Gronberg 1.72% 5700
Paul Goydos 1.54% 6376
Jimmy Walker 1.53% 6424
Spencer Levin 1.53% 6432
Joe Durant 1.51% 6513
Daniel Chopra 1.45% 6780
Arjun Atwal 1.34% 7386
Rocco Mediate 1.30% 7614
Chris Stroud 1.28% 7685
Michael Letzig 1.09% 9113
Vijay Singh 1.08% 9125
Pat Perez 1.06% 9345

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