American Golf is dead
True international players appear to be stronger, but I don’t think you can argue that the four best players in this field aren’t American. The Euro’s run of luck this year is certainly a reflection of good players playing well, but there is absolutely no proof they will start dominating the game.
European players are more familiar with links golf
This may be true up until the point they start playing competitively, but anyone who has gotten to this point has had to excel on the European, Asian, PGA or any other professional tour. None of these play much on links-style courses. Every elite player in this field is a product of tours that do not value any certain skills that links do, so there shouldn’t be much of an advantage. As to experience, the British Open is played by both tours, other than that, what are the links courses on the European Tour. Irish Open? That’s it. I’m not buying for one second any European advantage, just like I didn’t care that a Euro hadn’t won the US Open since Tony Jacklin.
This is the one thing that I would legitimately consider might mean something. Traveling 6 hours across and ocean(albeit in private jets) and being thousands of miles away from home is something I definitely think could have an impact. I did a little look into this, and found that for players with 20 rounds on each tour from past two years, Americans going overseas was not noticeably different in performance from Europeans(or that matter Australians or Asians). However, this was a small sample size. Include players with only 10 European rounds and there did seem to be a disadvantage to coming from America, although this raises it’s own SSS issues.
I took one final look, with all the majors from 2002-2010, comparing majors played on British soil against majors on American soil. Among players with at least 12 rounds in British and 12 rounds in US-based majors (547 British rounds, 1633 US rounds, about 68 per major) the average of US players on American soil was virtually identical to US players on British soil. The European players were slightly better on British soil, but not enough to make me think it was very meaningful.
Tiger Woods: I’m pretty happy with where my rankings have Tiger right now. It’s basically the estimate I was using for the US Open and AT&T National. At this point, It’s a pretty good compromise between his awful(by his standards) 2010, and the upside that is 2008-2009. Remember, you’re not concerned with how Tiger Woods has played this year, but projecting how he will play in the future. I don’t think there is a legitimate reason to think Tiger won’t return to form given time.
Steve Stricker: People must find Stricker boring to root for. I don’t have that problem. Stricker has been really good since 2006 and I don’t think it’s worth arguing whether he is a fluke anymore. The only knock on Stricker is his play in the majors while good, has not been up to his full average since 2002. This might mean something, but it’s not that much, and you could downgrade Stricker a lot and 40-1 would be a great price.
Paul Casey: By no means would I put Casey in the same category of value as Stricker, but I think Casey is at least fair and not nearly as over-rated as some other top name Euro’s. Casey has a big game, but has been only slightly above average in majors, which could be the reason.
Jim Furyk: Furyk is the last player I would consider in the range of favorites who aren’t quite as well viewed as they should be. Furyk is equal parts boring game and under-performance in majors, which usually makes for a good combination. He’s definitely in the top-5 of this field and that deserves better than 45-1.
Kenny Perry: They say “you can miss left all day at St. Andrews.” If that’s the case it could be a course well suited to Perry’s game. If you don’t put much weight into stupid statements like that then how about getting almost 300-1 for a player who still is among the 50 best in the game.
Phil Mickelson: Once again, Phil has a strong history in majors, and it’s a least possible that there is some merit to that. So, give Mickelson a bump, but given his history at the British Open and his overall popularity, he is still way too high.
Rory McIlroy: I’m really struggling to see how Rory is one of the 5 best players in the field right now. He’s proven to be a strong player over the past two years, but not at this level. McIlroy definitely should improve going forward, but from what I can see now, you basically are who you are once you get settled into the tour. McIlroy will be good, but his upside(he’s not there yet!) is more in the Phil Mickelson range than Tiger Woods range.
Justin Rose I have 8 years of proof Justin Rose is a solid golfer and three weeks of good play. That’s not enough to suggest he should be anywhere near 20-1 against the world’s best golfers. I probably wouldn’t even put him that high in the Traveler’s Championship.
Alexander Noren Noren has been terrible this year, compared to a very solid(on par with Justin Rose!) 2008 and 2009. It looks like he’s doing a lot of 1 or 2 good rounds mixed with 1 or 2 bad rounds so far this season. I’m willing to say that the chances of him putting 4 good ones in a row together is better than 700-1.
Michael Sim I’ve tried to temper my feelings on Sim recently considering 2009 on the Nationwide Tour appears to be a huge outlier and he’s not a great ball-striker in areas where it seems to matter most, but If you give me a high enough price, why not?
Kevin Na Na’s 2009 appears to be over his head, and he’s never played well in majors, but if you get a certain price that’s worth overlooking. I don’t expect Na to do well this week, but when he opened at 725-1, that had to be the best price in the field for a player that in the past two years is basically Justin Rose.
Steve Marino You may remember Marino as Tom Watson’s bitch from last year’s version of this tournament. Get ready for some disappointment from Hurricane Steve this week, but he should win this more than 1 out of 400 times.
Mitch Lowe: You may not know King Mitch used his hour long special on northern California public access television to express his interests in attending the Reno-Tahoe Open this week. He. Will. Win.