|62||Davis Love III||2004||-0.5457|
|70||Jose Maria Olazabal||2005||-0.5218|
|77||Davis Love III||2005||-0.5103|
|82||Jose Maria Olazabal||2006||-0.5027|
Monthly Archives: July 2010
Any other golfer wouldn’t merit this level of attention after every week, but no one draws the amount of absurd overreactions both ways that Tiger Woods does. There is no one capable of saying, “Oh, Tiger just had an off week.” It’s either “Tiger is done, golf is changed forever,” or “Tiger shot 67!?!?!?! He’s back.” So rationally and logically, where does Tiger stand?
There can be almost no doubt that Tiger’s play has been affected by whatever happened in his personal life. His 2010 campaign has been so far below any other observed year for Tiger and that seems to be the reason. Tiger has not played well this year. That is a fact.
But, that part is basically meaningless. “Where will Tiger go from here?” is the important question.
This debate really boils down to how you ask the question. Will Tiger Woods ever return to 100%? That, to me, is a simple answer. If he wants to, yes he will. Tiger has been through various stages of written off throughout his career and each time has rebounded to a higher level of dominance.
Just consider the season where Tiger’s father died and he missed the cut at Winged Foot. It seemed at the time the general consensus was Tiger might never be the same. Then, he found his game and put together the best two year run in the history of golf from the 2006 Western Open to the 2008 US Open. His dominance over a large and talented field of worldwide golfers simply was the most impressive thing a human has ever done on a golf course.
But, there is still the second question. Will Tiger ever be as dominant as he was before? This is not such a simple answer. Factors like Tiger’s health, relative strength of the field come into play here.
What no one seems to understand right now is just how long Tiger will play. Tiger is not an 34-year-old NFL runningback, who started four years of college and averages 400 carries a year, trying to break the rushing record. He’s a golfer.
Just look around. Vijay Singh, who could never putt, posted the best two years I have on record for someone not named Tiger Woods in 2003-2004 as a 41 and 42 year old. Stricker, Furyk and Phil Mickelson have arguably done the same thing. Kenny Perry arguably had two of his best years as a pro as a 48-year-old. Michael Allen, Tom Pernice, Tom Lehman, Freddie Couples have remained above average tour pros even after turning 50. Tom Watson, at 60!, keeps popping his head up at major championships.
Now, it’s certainly very reasonable to argue that this is a golden-goose generation of 40-50 year olds. They rode Tiger’s coattails to making lots of money, while relying on increased fitness and better technology to play long and not having to deal with the “Tiger generation” quite yet. Tiger probably won’t be able to avoid that next generation.
It’s possible, even likely, that Tiger’s competition in the next 10 years will be better. Look at the young guns that have recently arrived on tour. It’s hardly a coincidence that it’s starting to happen a dozen years after Tiger dominated Augusta. Imagine all the 5-year-olds who fell in love with golf because of Tiger, or their fathers who heard Earl’s story and set their kids on a 24/7 golf practice schedule. It’s not unreasonable to think that Tiger’s incredible and unprecedented devotion to golf, has spurred on 10,20 maybe 50 kids now that worked as hard as Tiger did before making the PGA Tour.
Maybe Tiger won’t dominate this generation of players like he did the last. Maybe this generation of players will make it harder for Tiger as a 40+ year-old than Tiger’s generation did on the current old guys. Still, it’s highly unlikely that anyone who has already made it to Tour will surpass the level of dominance Tiger showed in the past 10 years.
As for Tiger’s body breaking down, maybe. He’s arguably put more swings into his body that any other 35-year-old that’s played the game, and he’s had surgeries on his knees multiple times. But, he’s not an NFL runningback. Plenty of players, with improved fitness have made it well into their forties still playing near their primes. Even after that, if Tiger stays motivated he could probably compete as an average pro on tour at least past 55. If he wants to.
And that’s the key. If he wants to. Maybe this whole situation has soured Tiger to public life. Maybe he’ll quit golf take his money and hide on some island. It’s not even worth speculating.
Here’s what I will do: Assume Tiger plays until he is 50 with an average 10% chance of winning each Major. If he stays motivated that is an absolute low of his chances to win each major. Tiger is now 34, with one major left. That’s 61 more majors on the regular tour.
Here are the breakdown of Tiger’s probable outcomes with a 10% chance and the given number of majors remaining:
And finally, 20%:
To make it easy, here’s the change from starting with 64 majors and now winning 3 in a row at each average percentage:
At 10%, Tiger is about 3.7% less likely to win a major after this season so far. Of course, he would still be about 75% to break Jack Nicklaus’ record. As you go up to 20%, there is almost no effect because Tiger is basically a lock to break it in 61 tries.
I have no idea what Tiger will do from this point forward. But, if he’s motivated and healthy for the rest of his career, this season was hardly as tragic as everyone is saying.
I got a tweet earlier this week asking about my rankings solely based on play in 2010. Here they are:
|Rank||Player||Z-Sc Avg||Rounds||St Dev|
|26||Bo Van Pelt||-0.435||74||0.852|
Thanks for the tease Hunter.
Apparently everyone who bombed Y.E. after last year’s PGA is not impressed with Oosthuizen.
|Fredrik Andersson Hed||1.43%||6916|
I have no idea what the * mean. I just copied the leaderboard down from Yahoo.
Going forward I want to use these preview posts more to look into certain things that could affect value on a given week, rather than just randomly selecting players and writing about them (though I will continue with some of that) I have a few ideas of my own for “research projects” but if you have anything you would like to see, please feel free to send them along.
If you listen to the MSM, you would come away with the obvious opinion that majors matter more. Why this is, no one knows. According to Curtis Strange and people like him, majors take an extra amount of preparation, and are more mentally challenging than a regular tournament. That seems like a load of garbage to me, but traveling across the ocean one week, then back the next week, could definitely impact someone’s ability to play golf.
To look at this I compared the British Open and Canadian Open(as well as US Bank Champ w/Canadian Open (SSS, I know)) over the past two years. What I got was hardly conclusive.
|open avg||canadian av||2 yr total avg|
|us bank av||canadian av||2 yr total avg|
As you can see performance varies very little from the Open Championship to the Canadian Open. Considering that players who had played in both tournaments averaged around 78 rounds per year in each, that’s not a huge sample size and any difference is most likely random noise. What is interesting is that players from 2 years in each of these tournaments underperformed their 2-year averages. That’s not as terrible as it sounds (in ~78 tournaments, underperfoming that much would be in the 33rd of so percentile of performace), but it is still lower.
There was a much bigger sample size from the US Bank Championship to the RBC Canadian Open. There were about 4-5 times as many similar rounds as there were with the Open Championship. Once again, players played worse in the Canadian Open then they did the week before. The differences between the performances were smaller, but possibly more meaningful when comparing around 300 rounds. Then again, players who played in Reno-Tahoe this year will be traveling from a different location to a new venue at the Canadian Open, so who knows how much to read into this.
The crazy thing is, players playing both tournaments played below their two year averages. I’m not sure why this is and there are tons of conclusions you could draw. First and foremost, you have to consider this a small sample size.
Secondly, it might tell us more about the type of players who play in each events. Maybe playing in back-to-back weeks is the disadvantage and there are certain types of players who play in each event. The really good players obviously skip Canada after playing the British for the most part. Good and Moderate players might go to Canada, but would be less likely to play in the British Open(especially US Tour based moderately good players) or in the horrible fielded secondary event. Then the generally below average players fill out the field in the secondary event and have a disadvantage against a portion of players who are better, but not good enough to play the Open and took a week off.
I back tested this and players who didn’t play in either the British Open or the US Bank Championship and did play in the Canadian Open. While it did show a difference in quality of players (-.15 average for Open and Canadian both, around average for just Canadian, and .12 average for US Bank and Canadian Open in back-to-back weeks) there results were quite mixed as well.
In the end, I’m not sure. I wouldn’t downgrade anyone who played last week in one tournament over the other, I might consider a small advantage for players who took the week off. But, if that’s your reason for liking a player it’s definitely not enough.
600 words is enough, so here are the top 25 players from each of the tournaments:
RBC CANADIAN OPEN
|Fredrik Andersson Hed||0.068||94||1.055||1.6189%||6077|
Louis Oosthuizen has been released in the 75-1 range for the PGA Championship in August after his win at the British Open.
Winning a major might do something for your confidence, but this is still absurd on a number of levels. Just look at last year’s major winners. Y.E. Yang parlayed his best ever career year into the PGA Championship and promptly returned to the spotty golfer he was before he won a major. Lucas Glover, while overall better on his career, played fantastic in 2009, but has basically returned to a career average since. That doesn’t even address Todd Hamilton, Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel, Trevor Immelman, Michael Campbell, who have faired even worse after winning majors.
I tweeted yesterday that Louis Oosthuizen was a Graeme McDowell, Y.E. Yang, Rich Beem hybrid. Here’s what I mean:
2009-2010 Graeme McDowell: Oosthuizen and McDowell are almost identical over the past two years. Each had a middling 2009, followed by a world-wide top-15 2010. This seems to be a pattern of sorts with some of the more random majors winners. Career year turns into a major victory. Like McDowell, this is probably the best Oosthuizen will ever play. Unlike McDowell, Oosthuizen doesn’t have the stellar record of solid play, though Oosthuizen is a few years younger.
Career of Y.E. Yang: Overall, Oosthuizen is much more similar to Y.E. Yang. Some good years, some bad ones, hovering between solid world-wide player and slightly below PGA Tour average. The obvious exception is that Y.E. Yang’s best year was 2009 and that’s not even close to what Oosthuizen has done so far this year.
Majors record of Rich Beem: Coming into this British Open, Louis Oosthuizen had 18 rounds in major championships and was well below an average PGA Tour player. To the point that he’d be like a -130 favorite over Mitch Lowe(or the average golfer with less than 20 rounds on majors tours). Now, 18 is a small sample size, but I doubt any golfer has ever played as poorly in majors before winning one. Even after a 9-stroke win, Oosthuizen is still below PGA tour average in majors. Rich Beem is the only player I could think of who had won a major and still remained below average in them.
All this adds up to a much dimmer forecast that most people would expect for someone who just won a major championship by 9 strokes. It reasonable to expect Oosthuizen to remain a solid player for a long time, but if you only follow the four majors, it’s doubtful we will ever hear much from him. If you want another way to look at it, he’s basically Charl Schwartzel with a major.