US OPEN PRETENDERS

Phil Mickelson
To be fair, Phil Mickelson as overrated as he may be, still has a very good shot at winning this Major Championship. As I touched on with Tiger, a player of Phil’s stature may have reason to not play to his full ability in every round, which my rankings assume. I’m willing to accept the possibility that Phil is less than average while using some tournaments as a “warm-up.” If that is the truly the case, that could be enough to tip him ahead of Furyk, Stricker and now Westwood in the debate for number 2.

Phil is getting a ton of credit for three things:

1) The media assumes he is some great family man. This may or may not be true, I’ve never met Phil, but it’s meaningless to the game of golf. Just because you like the perception of Phil that the media puts out doesn’t make him any more likely to win.

2) Strong play this season. This is totally fueled by four good rounds at Augusta. Other than that, Phil has sprinkled in some bad, some more good and played pretty close to his career average. If you’re thinking Phil is more likely to win this week because of a strong 2010 season, that’s another total misnomer because the media and golf fans are overly focused on the Masters. Here’s a look at Phil year-by-year in my rankings:

2002- -.690(98 rounds)
2003- -.310(80 rounds)
2004- -.770(80 rounds)
2005- -.649(78 rounds)
2006- -.787(69 rounds)
2008- -.686(90 rounds)
2009- -.499(71 rounds)
2010- -.652(46 rounds)

Obviously, a long layoff in 2009 may lower his rankings more than he should be, but it’s not like he’s been noticeably more dominant in 2010.

3) Strong play in Majors. This part may have some legs as I mentioned above. If Phil really does put more effort into majors, than his good performance might be actually meaningful. Phil is higher than any single of his seasons over the 70+ major championship rounds I have recorded from him since 2002(2007 excluded). I think it’s safe to say part of this is luck and good variance, but it definitely could be important.

The bottom line with Phil is how much do we want to adjust him up. I think around -.67-.70 is a fair adjustment based on where his career averages seem to be and discounting last year because of other factors. I’ll give him a few more fractions for stronger play in the majors over the last few years and settle with a -.725 ranking for Phil. Adjusting Tiger down a little, too, that puts Phil around 13-1 to win this week. Despite what the books say, I think that is more than fair for Phil.

Dustin Johnson

Ole Dusty has won the ATT Pebble Beach Pro-am the last two years, so he owns Pebble Beach, right? Well, maybe. Johnson has played a whopping 3 rounds on Pebble Beach in completely different conditions. It’s pretty safe to say, “2 wins at Pebble” means completely nothing this week for Johnson.

Again, to be fair, there is certainly a lot to like about Johnson’s game. He is young, seems to be on the way up and hits the ball a mile. Those are all good things. If you were getting 150-1 on Johnson, I’d say go for it. At 38-1, no thanks.

Luke Donald
I’ve had Donald eyed for this championship pretty much ever since the season started. Pebble Beach, is seemingly a course that with its small greens and not brutal length sets up perfectly for Donald. More importantly, until about a month ago no one would put Donald in the top-ten of the world like me. Unfortunately, Donald decided to go on a tear the last month and people have noticed. Donald can certainly contend this week, but 70-1 is more accurate than 35-1.

Tom Watson
I’m not buying Watson one bit this week. Of course, he will serve to provide ESPN with tons of nostalgic footage, but there is NO EFFING WAY Watson should be 150-1 to win this week. True, he does have a strong history at Augusta and Turnberry last year, but that’s only a few rounds and on a much more difficult course I think there is no way Watson competes this week. The first three guys I mention, could very well win this week. I doubt Watson is better than 1000-1 true odds of winning this week.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “US OPEN PRETENDERS

  1. Hey this is a great article! Check out my blog cuz I really wanna hear your opinion on my thoughts.

  2. Almost everything you cited is entirely short-sighted or meaningless. It’s possible will never see Tiger as dominant as he was, because in 2000 and 2006-2008 Tiger played at an astounding level. That being said, once Tiger gets more practice after a six-month layoff, there is no reason to think he won’t become the best player in the world by far.

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