Monthly Archives: July 2010

100 BEST SEASONS 2004-2009

1 Tiger Woods 2008 -1.3104
2 Tiger Woods 2006 -1.2683
3 Tiger Woods 2007 -1.2201
4 Tiger Woods 2009 -1.1527
5 Tiger Woods 2005 -0.9903
6 Tiger Woods 2004 -0.9459
7 Vijay Singh 2004 -0.9246
8 Jim Furyk 2006 -0.9218
9 Ernie Els 2004 -0.8954
10 Vijay Singh 2005 -0.8130
11 Phil Mickelson 2006 -0.7871
12 Adam Scott 2006 -0.7869
13 Luke Donald 2006 -0.7716
14 Phil Mickelson 2004 -0.7702
15 Ernie Els 2005 -0.7656
16 Ernie Els 2007 -0.7619
17 Steve Stricker 2009 -0.7466
18 Retief Goosen 2004 -0.7448
19 Ernie Els 2006 -0.7037
20 Jim Furyk 2005 -0.6914
21 Phil Mickelson 2008 -0.6862
22 Jim Furyk 2007 -0.6857
23 Sergio Garcia 2004 -0.6835
24 Phil Mickelson 2007 -0.6823
25 Steve Stricker 2007 -0.6746
26 Jim Furyk 2009 -0.6627
27 Justin Rose 2007 -0.6601
28 Sergio Garcia 2008 -0.6594
29 Vijay Singh 2006 -0.6546
30 Phil Mickelson 2005 -0.6490
31 Stewart Cink 2004 -0.6479
32 Steve Stricker 2006 -0.6405
33 Luke Donald 2005 -0.6402
34 Sergio Garcia 2005 -0.6383
35 Trevor Immelman 2006 -0.6349
36 Anthony Kim 2008 -0.6078
37 K.J. Choi 2007 -0.6058
38 Zach Johnson 2009 -0.6045
39 Robert Karlsson 2008 -0.6021
40 Darren Clarke 2005 -0.5991
41 David Toms 2005 -0.5945
42 Retief Goosen 2006 -0.5932
43 Stephen Ames 2004 -0.5929
44 Robert Allenby 2006 -0.5855
45 Sergio Garcia 2006 -0.5837
46 Vijay Singh 2007 -0.5829
47 Colin Montgomerie 2005 -0.5814
48 Paul Casey 2009 -0.5805
49 Scott Verplank 2004 -0.5791
50 Vijay Singh 2008 -0.5771
51 Rory Sabbatini 2007 -0.5737
52 Jay Haas 2004 -0.5716
53 Kenny Perry 2005 -0.5643
54 Luke Donald 2004 -0.5606
55 Adam Scott 2004 -0.5563
56 Padraig Harrington 2008 -0.5556
57 Sergio Garcia 2007 -0.5543
58 Stuart Appleby 2006 -0.5522
59 Lee Westwood 2008 -0.5520
60 Jim Furyk 2008 -0.5513
61 Padraig Harrington 2007 -0.5483
62 Davis Love III 2004 -0.5457
63 Aaron Baddeley 2007 -0.5444
64 Stewart Cink 2006 -0.5417
65 Hunter Mahan 2009 -0.5362
66 Angel Cabrera 2004 -0.5325
67 Padraig Harrington 2006 -0.5325
68 David Toms 2004 -0.5285
69 Camilo Villegas 2008 -0.5283
70 Jose Maria Olazabal 2005 -0.5218
71 Lucas Glover 2006 -0.5215
72 Retief Goosen 2005 -0.5179
73 Scott Verplank 2007 -0.5177
74 Kenny Perry 2009 -0.5156
75 Robert Allenby 2008 -0.5130
76 Henrik Stenson 2006 -0.5111
77 Davis Love III 2005 -0.5103
78 Nick Watney 2009 -0.5066
79 Lee Westwood 2009 -0.5065
80 Adam Scott 2007 -0.5040
81 Arron Oberholser 2006 -0.5037
82 Jose Maria Olazabal 2006 -0.5027
83 Phil Mickelson 2009 -0.4996
84 Zach Johnson 2007 -0.4990
85 Henrik Stenson 2008 -0.4967
86 Jerry Kelly 2004 -0.4960
87 Retief Goosen 2009 -0.4951
88 Zach Johnson 2004 -0.4947
89 Tim Clark 2007 -0.4938
90 Padraig Harrington 2009 -0.4865
91 Martin Kaymer 2009 -0.4859
92 Ian Poulter 2009 -0.4854
93 Shigeki Maruyama 2004 -0.4845
94 Geoff Ogilvy 2006 -0.4831
95 David Toms 2009 -0.4822
96 Adam Scott 2005 -0.4812
97 Paul Casey 2006 -0.4801
98 Mike Weir 2006 -0.4799
99 Henrik Stenson 2005 -0.4795
100 Tim Clark 2005 -0.4795
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THE FUTURE OF TIGER WOODS

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:

0.1 NOT TIE BREAK
61 12.90% 12.86% 74.24%
62 12.10% 12.38% 75.53%
63 11.34% 11.89% 76.76%
64 10.63% 11.42% 77.95%

And, 15%:

0.15 NOT TIE BREAK
61 1.32% 2.50% 96.18%
62 1.17% 2.28% 96.55%
63 1.04% 2.07% 96.89%
64 0.92% 1.87% 97.20%

And finally, 20%:

0.2 NOT TIE BREAK
61 0.08% 0.25% 99.67%
62 0.07% 0.21% 99.72%
63 0.06% 0.18% 99.76%
64 0.05% 0.16% 99.79%

To make it easy, here’s the change from starting with 64 majors and now winning 3 in a row at each average percentage:

NOT TIE BREAK
0.1 2.3% 1.4% -3.7%
0.15 0.4% 0.6% -1.0%
0.2 0.0% 0.1% -0.1%

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.

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FRIDAY TIME WASTERS: 2010 RANKINGS

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
1 Lee Westwood -0.776 54 0.852
2 Anthony Kim -0.719 35 1.083
3 Steve Stricker -0.652 48 0.901
4 Phil Mickelson -0.633 56 0.931
5 Matt Kuchar -0.612 57 0.800
6 Luke Donald -0.612 58 0.837
7 Tiger Woods -0.578 25 0.854
8 Ernie Els -0.557 57 0.809
9 Graeme McDowell -0.546 57 0.869
10 Retief Goosen -0.546 49 0.825
11 Louis Oosthuizen -0.523 44 0.847
12 Charl Schwartzel -0.517 60 0.872
13 Jim Furyk -0.507 50 0.953
14 K.J. Choi -0.500 64 0.799
15 J.B. Holmes -0.499 68 0.897
16 Martin Kaymer -0.490 54 0.825
17 Francesco Molinari -0.487 58 0.829
18 Rory McIlroy -0.480 48 1.027
19 Robert Allenby -0.471 56 0.830
20 Paul Casey -0.469 52 1.032
21 Ben Crane -0.467 56 0.894
22 Tom Watson -0.466 14 0.893
23 Justin Rose -0.451 62 1.082
24 Fred Couples -0.449 18 0.923
25 Dustin Johnson -0.443 58 1.050
26 Bo Van Pelt -0.435 74 0.852
27 Sean O’Hair -0.434 57 0.776
28 Nick Watney -0.433 60 0.990
29 Peter Hanson -0.420 49 0.787
30 Padraig Harrington -0.418 48 0.869
31 Camilo Villegas -0.415 56 0.929
32 Tim Clark -0.410 55 0.905
33 Alvaro Quiros -0.407 62 0.921
34 Ricky Barnes -0.383 76 0.924
35 Bubba Watson -0.378 53 0.897
36 Corey Pavin -0.365 29 0.839
37 Edoardo Molinari -0.356 60 0.823
38 Bill Haas -0.352 55 0.935
39 Ryan Moore -0.346 55 0.892
40 Rhys Davies -0.342 59 1.011
41 Bryce Molder -0.341 60 0.909
42 Tom Lehman -0.338 24 0.626
43 Jason Bohn -0.329 54 1.019
44 Fredrik Jacobson -0.314 59 0.772
45 Jeff Overton -0.312 63 0.982
46 Steve Marino -0.300 61 0.878
47 Adam Scott -0.298 48 0.863
48 Vijay Singh -0.274 54 0.872
49 Heath Slocum -0.273 71 0.803
50 Ross Fisher -0.270 46 0.874

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RBC CANADIAN OPEN

Thanks for the tease Hunter.

Hunter Mahan 10.76% 829
Charley Hoffman 6.47% 1445
Tim Clark 6.29% 1490
Retief Goosen 5.52% 1712
Paul Casey 4.81% 1977
Kevin Na 4.01% 2393
Camilo Villegas 3.16% 3067
Jason Bohn 2.88% 3374
Stephen Ames 2.62% 3715
Matt Jones 2.56% 3804
Dean Wilson 2.30% 4246
Spencer Levin 2.30% 4249
Bob Estes 2.15% 4547
Jimmy Walker 2.14% 4577
Chris Stroud 1.84% 5341
Daniel Chopra 1.76% 5575
Brent Delahoussaye 1.72% 5700
Michael Letzig 1.48% 6650
Luke Donald 1.47% 6725
Ricky Barnes 1.44% 6831
Nicholas Thompson 1.29% 7668
Steve Wheatcroft 1.28% 7717
Greg Chalmers 1.18% 8345
Briny Baird 1.16% 8509
Chad Campbell 1.15% 8597
Vance Veazey 1.10% 8955
Joe Durant 1.07% 9214
J.J. Henry 1.07% 9262
Brian Stuard 1.00% 9854

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NORDEA SCANDANAVIAN MASTERS ROUND 1

Apparently everyone who bombed Y.E. after last year’s PGA is not impressed with Oosthuizen.

Player PCT ODDS
Dustin Johnson 22.24% 350
Louis Oosthuizen 14.76% 578
K.J. Choi 11.75% 751
Richard Green 8.55% 1070
Edoardo Molinari* 4.88% 1948
Rory Sabbatini 2.93% 3319
Rickie Fowler* 2.05% 4772
Rafa Echenique 1.88% 5209
Brett Rumford 1.66% 5909
Fredrik Andersson Hed 1.43% 6916
Peter Hanson 1.39% 7103
James Morrison* 1.25% 7919
Robert Karlsson* 1.14% 8642
Steven Jeppesen 1.13% 8731

I have no idea what the * mean. I just copied the leaderboard down from Yahoo.

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RBC CANADIAN OPEN AND NORDIC MASTERS

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
2008 -0.0571 -0.0013 0.0087
2009 0.0028 -0.0266 -0.1672
total -0.0279 -0.0138 -0.1560
us bank av canadian av 2 yr total avg
2008 0.0172 0.0369 0.1125
2009 0.0642 0.0973 0.1365
total 0.0394 0.0644 0.1241

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

Paul Casey -0.516 157 0.950 6.3700% 1470
Retief Goosen -0.457 190 0.932 4.6348% 2058
Camilo Villegas -0.458 185 0.904 4.1877% 2288
Hunter Mahan -0.433 180 0.919 3.9488% 2432
Luke Donald -0.457 166 0.862 3.4523% 2797
Sean O’Hair -0.422 173 0.897 3.4103% 2832
Matt Kuchar -0.448 161 0.862 3.3024% 2928
Tim Clark -0.424 195 0.882 3.2036% 3022
Kevin Na -0.336 182 0.970 3.1164% 3109
Mike Weir -0.271 175 0.993 2.5509% 3820
Fred Couples -0.266 71 0.970 2.2322% 4380
Charley Hoffman -0.259 193 0.950 1.9439% 5044
Stephen Ames -0.296 156 0.911 1.9064% 5146
Scott Verplank -0.301 180 0.870 1.5420% 6385
Brandt Snedeker -0.215 178 0.944 1.4969% 6580
Bill Haas -0.251 180 0.899 1.3816% 7138
Chad Campbell -0.224 184 0.917 1.3403% 7361
Bryce Molder -0.238 174 0.900 1.2977% 7606
Chad Collins -0.124 188 0.987 1.1808% 8369
Jason Bohn -0.184 146 0.930 1.1547% 8560
Blake Adams -0.119 148 0.984 1.1307% 8744
Aaron Baddeley -0.104 157 0.995 1.1225% 8809
Pat Perez -0.240 168 0.875 1.1103% 8907
Charlie Wi -0.223 187 0.883 1.0605% 9330

NORDIC MASTERS

Dustin Johnson -0.371 164 0.986 8.1110% 1133
Rickie Fowler -0.214 100 1.086 5.9506% 1581
Robert Karlsson -0.284 137 0.921 4.6055% 2071
K.J. Choi -0.312 168 0.887 4.5967% 2075
Louis Oosthuizen -0.247 167 0.925 3.9380% 2439
Peter Hanson -0.327 181 0.829 3.8388% 2505
Rory Sabbatini -0.180 198 0.993 3.8223% 2516
Soren Kjeldsen -0.223 191 0.889 2.9756% 3261
Alexander Noren -0.120 172 0.968 2.6066% 3736
Graeme Storm 0.037 192 1.074 2.0554% 4765
Troy Matteson -0.069 179 0.960 1.9456% 5040
Robert Rock -0.004 187 1.020 1.9171% 5116
Brett Rumford 0.057 169 1.076 1.8929% 5183
Danny Willett -0.090 151 0.931 1.8578% 5283
Anthony Wall -0.184 176 0.840 1.8489% 5309
Jamie Donaldson -0.088 170 0.921 1.7311% 5677
Fredrik Andersson Hed 0.068 94 1.055 1.6189% 6077
Johan Edfors -0.052 168 0.935 1.5493% 6354
Gregory Bourdy -0.080 186 0.892 1.4038% 7024
James Morrison 0.164 46 1.104 1.3311% 7412
Richard Green -0.180 143 0.792 1.3148% 7506
Andrew Dodt 0.009 64 0.956 1.2656% 7802
Edoardo Molinari -0.126 111 0.831 1.2316% 8020
Nicolas Colsaerts 0.155 47 1.081 1.2314% 8021
Peter Lawrie -0.049 182 0.886 1.1235% 8800

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THE VALUE OF LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN

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.

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