THE VALUE OF TIGER WOODS

It’s seems impossible hard for the shortsided and idiotic to avoid throwing in there two sense on Tiger Woods. Here’s a sampling of some of the reactions:

From Golf.com

Van Sickle: If you mean betting favorite, the public decides that by how much it wagers on him. If you mean generic favorite, as considered by us media hackophiles, I don’t see how it can be Tiger. Yeah, he won there in ’00 and ’05, but based on the last six months, those wins were eons ago. He isn’t the same player at the moment. I’m not saying he can’t win. But there is slim evidence right now to indicate he should be the favorite. I’m not sure who should be. Phil? Justin? Jimenez? Bubba?

If you mean by slim evidence, two dominant wins at St. Andrews, I’ll accept that. If, however, you are referring to Tiger’s game in general I find this hard to believe. Tiger was the best player in the game from 1996-2009 and in most of those years by a long shot. That’s 14 years where Tiger has been the best player in the world. At least ten of them, dominantly. That’s not slim evidence.

To be fair, I think Tiger’s dominance comes from 3 factors.

-Talent: Tiger is blessed with a body that can swing a golf club 125+ MPH. There aren’t even many pros that can do that.

-Mind: People always talk about his mental toughness, and that’s probably fair, but Tiger seems to have an innate understanding of what is really important on the golf course. In every look at the stats that really matter on the PGA Tour, Tiger seems to be highly ranked in the important ones and more towards mediocre in the less important areas. This is important because I would say at least 75% of PGA pros would tell you putting is the key to winning(It’s not!). Tiger seems to know what areas make you a better golfer and how to manage a golf course.

-Work ethic: I don’t know how much of that Tiger is practicing at 6am in the rain garbage that his PR machine pumps out to believe, but it’s safe say Tiger is one of the hardest workers to ever play the game based on his performance. Talent alone is not enough to make you as good as Tiger was relative to everyone else.

Now, if I had to rank those, Work ethic is by far the most important, followed by his mind and talent. More importantly, which of those would take the biggest hit by the six month layoff from the game. I doubt he’s lost any mental edge or his ability to manage a course, he can still swing the club 125 MPH, but he was out of practice. With out the hours spent on the range honing his game, Tiger just got a little sloppy.

As I’ve been saying for awhile, I don’t really care what Tiger’s performance is. Every competitive round Tiger’s game should get a little closer to 100 percent. It’s important to remember, Tiger is one of a handful of players who has almost no incentive, other than what he puts on himself, to win a regular PGA Tour stop. Also, Tiger even at his best ever, still had a chance to finish 40th in a tournament.

I’m not backing off my estimate of Tiger, because even that would seem low if you consider that most players enter their best years ever at their early to mid thirties and where I’m currently estimating Tiger is well below his past 3 years. I just hope we hear lots of bad marital news/poor practice stories from now until the tee off at St. Andrews.

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose is an outlier.
If the average person hasn’t already taken some exception to what I have said, they certainly will now. Runs like Justin Rose’s over the past few weeks fuel tons of arguments about how much recent form really matters. The problem is, of all the PGA Tour golfers, only one had a great three week run. Many many many more players had one good week then disappeared. You just don’t hear about them.

You can read this post for the full breakdown, but the basic point is that even if last week or recent form does matter, it basically means the more current rounds are about 1.3-1.4 times more relavent than rounds from a random tournament. That seems big, except that it is 12 rounds against almost 200. When you factor that all together it only gives a small bonus for playing well recently.

The other issue with doing this is the relevance of recent tournaments varied widely over the course of a season. There is about a 5% chance that last week would have a stronger correlation with good play next week than the season as a whole would and a 10% chance that recent play will actually have a negative correlation with performance next week.

Now, there are certainly things to like about Justin Rose. Namely, he has always seemed to have a lot of talent and is at an age where many players do seem to show improvement. But, I have 364 weeks(7 years) of evidence that Justin Rose is a good, if not great pro, compared to 3 weeks of evidence that he is great. Give him a slight bonus for his age and recent play, and your still dealing with a very overrated golfer for right now.

John Deere and Scottish Open

Haven’t had a chance to add in last week’s results yet, so no odds this week. I want to make sure I’m ready for the British Open. Glanced at the Scottish Open lines for a second, didn’t see much, haven’t looked at JD at all. If you have any questions, though, feel free to ask.

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