THE EQUAL WEATHER BRITISH OPEN

There is almost no point in trying to take the randomness out of golf. There is no point trying to take the British Open trophy away from Louis Oosthuizen. When you throw in weather, lies, putts lipping in or out, so much about golf is luck and randomness.

However, after Louis Oosthuizen held up the trophy it’s no longer worth noting who won the British Open. That tells us as much about Oosthuizen as a pitcher who is 16-4 on the season. What’s important is not the result, but how everyone got to that result and when looking at this field, this week, there is almost no doubt that weather played a significant role in this outcome. The tricky part, of course, is how much.

ROUND 1:
On Thursday night, I would have thought weather had already played an extreme roll in this tournament. The morning wave(players who teed off before the 31 minute break) averaged 70.66 strokes around the Old Course. For the afternoon wave, while good scores were still out there, took on average 2.2 shots more to play the first 18. Of course, it wasn’t quite as simple as that, as earlier tee times in the afternoon(Oosthuizen teed off 5.5 hours after first group and shot 65) did post some good scores and played generally easier conditions than those who teed off later in the afternoon. As this chart shows, there was a strong correlation between when you teed off and what your score was in relation to the field average:

There was not a similar correlation between how skilled a player was in relation to average and when he teed off.

Coincidentally, and maybe partially because of, Rory’s 63 came right as the conditions played the easiest. There is no doubt, however that Rory shooting 63 was the best round of the day, because at most he only played a course that was less than 1 shot harder than Louis Oosthuizen.

Here is a look at the top 10 based on actual scores after Round 1. The weather-adjusted score is in the “adj” column and “diff” means the average course difficulty if the field had played at that same time.

Rank Player rd1 adj diff
1 Rory McIlroy 63 64.14 70.56
2 Louis Oosthuizen 65 65.42 71.28
3 Andrew Coltart 66 67.03 70.67
4 John Daly 66 67.03 70.67
5 Steven Tiley 66 66.71 70.99
6 Bradley Dredge 66 66.15 71.55
7 Peter Hanson 66 65.59 72.11
8 Marcel Siem 67 67.86 70.84
9 Nick Watney 67 68.13 70.57
10 Lucas Glover 67 68.14 70.56

Now, the weather adjusted top-10:

Rank Player rd1 adj diff
1 Rory McIlroy 63 64.14 70.56
2 Louis Oosthuizen 65 65.42 71.28
3 Peter Hanson 66 65.59 72.11
4 Bradley Dredge 66 66.15 71.55
5 Lee Westwood 67 66.33 72.37
6 Danny Chia 69 66.37 74.33
7 Steven Tiley 66 66.71 70.99
8 Y.E. Yang 67 66.94 71.76
9 Andrew Coltart 66 67.03 70.67
10 John Daly 66 67.03 70.67

The actual top ten averaged a course that played to 71.03 strokes and a tee time of 3.45 hours after the first groups teed off(field average was 4.84 after first group teed off). For the top ten weather-adjusted, however, they played a course that was 71.6 storkes in difficulty(right on average) and teed off 4.87 hours after the first group. This seemed like a big deal, until:

ROUND 2:
If weather has ever played a bigger factor in separating a golf tournament than it did on Friday I would like to know. Sure, it rained in the morning, but throw on some fancy golf suits and that was no problem. The 40-mph winds that delayed play for an hour were a huge problem.

This chart shows standardized scores in relation to the field average compared to time teed off after the leader. While the first chart was in strokes, this one is in standard deviations.

All crazy math terms aside, that means someone who teed off first(Calcavecchia!) played a course that was about 4.2 strokes easier that the field average and 6(!) shots easier than the players who teed off in the worst of the 40-mph winds.

If you want to know why this is important, just look at the tee times. Calcavecchia teed off first, Louis Oosthuizen was second on the day, completing a formidable combination of teeing off earliest in the afternoon on day 1, and earliest in the field on day 2.

On the other hand, Rory McIlroy teed off just one group behind the max of 1.88 strokes worse than average. Subtract that off his score of 80 and you get a reasonable below average round of 78.4 against a field average of 75.1.

It’s also intersting, that like I predicted on Friday afternoon, the players that teed off super late, avoided some of the weather because of the delay, then got easier conditions for the remaining portion of their rounds played Saturday morning.

Here’s a look once again at top-10 rounds of the day by actual score compared to top-10, by weather adjusted score:

Rank Player rd1 adj diff
1 Mark Calcavecchia 67 71.803 70.93
1 Louis Oosthuizen 67 71.419 71.27
1 Rickie Fowler 67 68.495 73.87
1 Miguel Angel Jimenez 67 68.229 74.11
5 Tom Lehman 68 71.687 71.91
5 Graeme McDowell 68 68.974 74.34
7 Jeff Overton 69 73.419 71.27
7 Simon Khan 69 72.002 72.52
7 Paul Casey 69 70.495 73.87
10 Toru Taniguchi 70 72.364 73.09
10 Alvaro Quiros 70 72.063 73.36
10 Adam Scott 70 71.229 74.11
10 Retief Goosen 70 70.5 74.77
10 Jin Jeong 70 69.002 76.68
10 Darren Clarke 70 69.275 76.51

And, “Weather-adjusted:”

Rank Player rd1 adj diff
1 Miguel Angel Jimenez 67 68.229 74.11
2 Rickie Fowler 67 68.495 73.87
3 Graeme McDowell 68 68.974 74.34
4 Jin Jeong 70 69.002 76.68
5 Darren Clarke 70 69.275 76.51
6 Ryuichi Oda 72 70.351 76.94
7 Nick Watney 72 70.417 77.00
8 Paul Casey 69 70.495 73.87
9 Retief Goosen 70 70.5 74.77
10 Sean O’Hair 72 70.681 76.88

The course average for Friday was around 75.1 strokes. Among the player who posted the best 10 rounds(less than or equal to 70) They played a course that was an average difficulty of 73.51 strokes(2 shots easier!) and teed off 2.6 hours before the average.   Once again, by taking the weather out of it, the best rounds were evenly distributed amongst tee times and course difficulty.

Finally, this is the post-round-2 leaderboard, with adjustments for weather.

1 Louis Oosthuizen 65.42 71.42 136.84
2 Jin Jeong 69.10 69.00 138.10
3 Retief Goosen 67.91 70.50 138.41
4 Nick Watney 68.13 70.42 138.54
5 Lee Westwood 66.33 72.23 138.56
6 Alejandro Canizares 67.93 70.77 138.70
7 Sean O’Hair 68.14 70.68 138.82
8 Paul Casey 68.46 70.49 138.96
9 Graeme McDowell 70.20 68.97 139.17
10 Miguel Angel Jimenez 71.33 68.23 139.56
11 Martin Kaymer 68.60 71.07 139.68
12 Tiger Woods 68.13 71.78 139.91
13 Darren Clarke 71.05 69.27 140.32
14 Peter Hanson 65.59 74.77 140.36
15 Heath Slocum 67.93 73.36 141.29
16 Marcel Siem 67.86 73.45 141.31
17 John Daly 67.03 74.34 141.37
18 Fredrik Andersson Hed 68.01 73.43 141.44
19 Trevor Immelman 69.09 72.36 141.45
20 Ricky Barnes 67.94 73.68 141.62
21 Sergio Garcia 70.06 71.73 141.79
22 Thomas Aiken 69.28 72.69 141.97
23 Bo Van Pelt 69.83 72.16 141.99
24 Henrik Stenson 69.10 73.00 142.10
25 Toru Taniguchi 69.83 72.36 142.19

This is absolutely hilarious. Oosthuizen’s 5-shot lead was more like 2, Calcavechia isn’t even in the top 25(He’s 27), Nick Watney and Lee Westwood who were 7 shots back, were actually only 2. It’s still important to note, though, that even with favorable breaks on tee times Louis Oosthuizen did play the best over the first two days. He got good breaks for sure, but he capitalized on them, too.

Finally, it should be noted that 13 players who were not in the weather adjusted top-70 made cut. That’s a huge break for them.

ROUND 3:
Weather played much more of a factor in the first 2 rounds than it did on Saturday. That shaped up poorly for players who were hoping to make a Saturday move. One reason could be that the tee times were not as stretched out. If 6:30 AM BDT is set at 0 hour when the first groups teed off on Thursday and Friday and the last groups teed off some 9.7 hours later, then on Saturday, the tee times ranged from 3.5 to 10.16. A range of 6 and 2/3 hours compared to almost 10.

Here’s the chart anyway between time teed off and score in relation to average:

Overall, this meant a difference of about .6 strokes between the first tee time and the leaders. Smaller than both of the first two days and not what the chasers who were well back would have wanted to see. In reality, it was even less, considering that the players at -2 or -3 with a real chance to catch the lead were essentially playing the same course.

Here’s the top-25 after round 3:

1 Louis Oosthuizen 65.42 71.42 67.91 204.76
2 Paul Casey 68.46 70.49 65.96 204.92
3 Martin Kaymer 68.60 71.07 67.31 206.98
4 Lee Westwood 66.33 72.23 69.96 208.52
5 Alejandro Canizares 67.93 70.77 70.01 208.71
6 Henrik Stenson 69.10 73.00 66.75 208.85
7 Nick Watney 68.13 70.42 70.31 208.85
8 Retief Goosen 67.91 70.50 71.15 209.56
9 Sean O’Hair 68.14 70.68 71.19 210.01
10 Jin Jeong 69.10 69.00 73.01 211.11
11 Sergio Garcia 70.06 71.73 69.63 211.42
12 Rory McIlroy 64.14 78.47 68.89 211.49
13 Dustin Johnson 68.83 74.36 68.45 211.64
14 J.B. Holmes 71.01 71.43 69.79 212.24
15 Tiger Woods 68.13 71.78 72.35 212.26
16 Lucas Glover 68.14 74.47 69.84 212.44
17 Miguel Angel Jimenez 71.33 68.23 73.10 212.66
18 Ricky Barnes 67.94 73.68 71.05 212.67
19 Camilo Villegas 69.13 73.78 69.89 212.79
20 Robert Rock 68.91 76.41 67.67 212.99
21 Ross Fisher 69.14 75.68 68.49 213.31
22 Phil Mickelson 71.91 71.50 69.98 213.39
23 Robert Karlsson 68.83 73.36 71.24 213.43
24 Peter Hanson 65.59 74.77 73.10 213.46
25 Steve Marino 69.81 74.51 69.42 213.73

Paul Casey’s 67 was the round of the day factoring in weather, but Louis Oosthuizen was only a couple shots worse, but the weather advantage from round 1 and 2 was enough to make Casey basically even with Oosthuizen after round 3. I had Casey all else equal and 4 shots back as around 25% to win the British Open going into Sunday.

Here’s how Sunday looks now if everyone had played the same course:

Paul Casey 36.41% 175
Louis Oosthuizen 26.49% 277
Martin Kaymer 10.10% 890
Lee Westwood 7.57% 1221
Henrik Stenson 4.65% 2050
Nick Watney 3.97% 2419
Retief Goosen 3.01% 3219
Alejandro Canizares 1.74% 5663
Sean O’Hair 1.63% 6045
Tiger Woods 1.27% 7791

Round 4:
It gets a little tricky at this point. Would Casey have played differently sharing the lead then 4 back? Who knows, but it’s probable. Here’s the same chart for Round 4, though:

There is a slightly stronger correlation than Saturday, but since the weather seemed similar, that could just as easily have been factors like mounting final round pressure or making silly decisions knowing that you needed to make up an absurd deficit in a short amount of time. Anyway, I proceeded to treat it all as weather again and here is the final 72 hole leaderboard adjusted for weather:

1 Louis Oosthuizen 65.42 71.42 67.91 70.03 274.79
2 Lee Westwood 66.33 72.23 69.96 69.13 277.65
3 Rory McIlroy 64.14 78.47 68.89 67.27 278.76
4 Retief Goosen 67.91 70.50 71.15 69.23 278.78
5 Henrik Stenson 69.10 73.00 66.75 70.08 278.93
6 Paul Casey 68.46 70.49 65.96 74.03 278.95
7 Nick Watney 68.13 70.42 70.31 70.18 279.03
8 Martin Kaymer 68.60 71.07 67.31 73.08 280.06
9 Sean O’Hair 68.14 70.68 71.19 70.23 280.24
10 Robert Rock 68.91 76.41 67.67 68.45 281.44
11 Jin Jeong 69.10 69.00 73.01 71.45 282.56
12 Sergio Garcia 70.06 71.73 69.63 71.32 282.74
13 J.B. Holmes 71.01 71.43 69.79 71.32 283.56
14 Tiger Woods 68.13 71.78 72.35 71.55 283.81
15 Charl Schwartzel 72.11 73.38 68.72 69.64 283.85
16 Graeme McDowell 70.20 68.97 75.15 70.01 284.33
17 Alvaro Quiros 71.71 72.06 73.59 67.29 284.65
18 Trevor Immelman 69.09 72.36 74.75 68.53 284.72
19 Robert Karlsson 68.83 73.36 71.24 71.37 284.80
20 Dustin Johnson 68.83 74.36 68.45 73.18 284.81
21 Alejandro Canizares 67.93 70.77 70.01 76.13 284.84
22 Marcel Siem 67.86 73.45 73.70 70.21 285.23
23 Miguel Angel Jimenez 71.33 68.23 73.10 72.60 285.26
24 Stephen Gallacher 71.98 72.59 70.19 70.74 285.50
25 Luke Donald 72.94 74.68 69.28 68.69 285.59
26 Rickie Fowler 78.46 68.49 71.58 67.38 285.92
27 Adam Scott 71.33 71.23 71.63 71.79 285.99
28 Edoardo Molinari 67.76 76.28 73.37 68.75 286.17
29 Robert Allenby 70.13 74.42 71.09 71.01 286.65
30 Ross Fisher 69.14 75.68 68.49 73.50 286.81
31 Tom Lehman 71.25 71.69 74.05 69.92 286.90
32 Peter Hanson 65.59 74.77 73.10 73.64 287.11
33 Soren Kjeldsen 73.06 72.34 70.67 71.06 287.14
34 Hunter Mahan 70.14 74.53 71.42 71.06 287.15
35 Ignacio Garrido 69.34 75.05 72.19 70.60 287.17
36 Jeff Overton 73.42 73.42 71.54 68.87 287.25
37 Camilo Villegas 69.13 73.78 69.89 74.50 287.29
38 Danny Chia 66.37 75.95 74.63 70.85 287.80
39 Ryo Ishikawa 69.12 73.88 74.49 70.34 287.83
40 Lucas Glover 68.14 74.47 69.84 75.55 287.99
41 Phil Mickelson 71.91 71.50 69.98 74.74 288.13
42 Matt Kuchar 74.10 73.00 71.72 69.38 288.20
43 John Daly 67.03 74.34 73.70 73.21 288.29
44 Darren Clarke 71.05 69.27 76.35 71.63 288.31
45 Heath Slocum 67.93 73.36 73.37 73.71 288.37
46 Bo Van Pelt 69.83 72.16 72.54 73.87 288.40
47 John Senden 68.91 74.41 73.02 72.48 288.83
48 Simon Dyson 69.96 73.37 73.09 72.48 288.91
49 Ricky Barnes 67.94 73.68 71.05 76.27 288.95
50 Bradley Dredge 66.15 79.34 73.59 70.29 289.36
51 Steve Marino 69.81 74.51 69.42 75.69 289.43
52 Kevin Na 70.25 77.69 69.93 71.79 289.66
53 Stewart Cink 72.15 72.60 71.14 73.97 289.85
54 Vijay Singh 68.05 76.00 75.40 70.58 290.03
55 Shane Lowry 68.34 77.05 70.40 74.37 290.16
56 Steve Stricker 70.06 74.73 71.33 74.11 290.23
57 Kyung-Tae Kim 70.77 74.37 73.23 72.43 290.81
58 Zane Scotland 70.88 73.96 72.19 74.11 291.15
59 Ian Poulter 72.15 71.60 76.14 71.95 291.83
60 Fredrik Andersson Hed 68.01 73.43 72.49 77.92 291.85
61 Colm Moriarty 72.42 77.42 72.23 70.43 292.51
62 Colin Montgomerie 72.91 71.50 74.33 73.80 292.54
63 Jason Day 72.08 73.13 75.49 71.90 292.60
64 Andrew Coltart 67.03 75.34 73.84 76.53 292.75
65 Tom Pernice Jr. 72.88 73.96 71.76 74.34 292.95
66 Simon Khan 74.05 72.00 72.79 74.16 293.00
67 Toru Taniguchi 69.83 72.36 76.24 74.63 293.06
68 Y.E. Yang 66.94 76.68 75.45 74.58 293.65
69 Thomas Aiken 69.28 72.69 77.02 74.95 293.95
70 Steven Tiley 66.71 79.60 73.53 74.71 294.55
71 Richard S. Johnson 71.28 72.69 76.63 74.00 294.60
72 Marc Leishman 73.25 74.69 71.98 75.16 295.07
73 Zach Johnson 70.60 74.07 74.58 76.90 296.16
74 Peter Senior 73.51 75.80 73.93 73.75 297.00
75 Hirofumi Miyase 71.34 79.05 73.53 73.80 297.72
76 Mark Calcavecchia 70.51 71.80 75.91 79.97 298.19
77 Scott Verplank 72.05 76.00 74.28 77.85 300.18

NOTES:
-Mark Calcavecchia ends up 76 out of 77 players who made the cut.

-Rory McIlroy played 3rd best of anyone in the field, all else equal

-Louis Oosthuizen still played well enough to win by a comfortable margin, but this was not a nine shot victory.

-Tiger Woods was 14th best, Sergio Garcia is 12, Rickie Fowler even with a weather adjusted 78 in round 1, played well enough to be 26th in this.

-Here’s the top-20 rounds of the week in relation to the field weather-adjusted average in strokes of when they were shot:

rank player round relative
1 Paul Casey 3 -7.64
2 Rory McIlroy 1 -7.55
3 Miguel Angel Jimenez 2 -7.19
4 Rickie Fowler 2 -6.91
5 Henrik Stenson 3 -6.66
6 Graeme McDowell 2 -6.42
7 Jin Jeong 2 -6.39
8 Louis Oosthuizen 1 -6.28
9 Peter Hanson 1 -6.11
10 Darren Clarke 2 -6.11
11 Martin Kaymer 3 -5.96
12 Rory McIlroy 4 -5.90
13 Alvaro Quiros 4 -5.89
14 Rickie Fowler 4 -5.77
15 Bradley Dredge 1 -5.56
16 Robert Rock 3 -5.51
17 Lee Westwood 1 -5.38
18 Danny Chia 1 -5.34
19 Louis Oosthuizen 3 -5.21
20 Steven Tiley 1 -5.00

-Of players who completed four rounds, here’s the 10 who played the most difficult course(score is “weather-adjusted” field average, average for field was 291.08)

67 Tiger Woods 292.73
68 Alejandro Canizares 292.81
69 Jin Jeong 292.83
70 Henrik Stenson 292.96
71 Rory McIlroy 292.98
72 Sean O’Hair 293.15
73 Retief Goosen 293.29
74 Nick Watney 293.30
75 Heath Slocum 293.46
76 Martin Kaymer 294.09
77 Danny Chia 294.20

-And the easiest(Oosthuizen played the 14th easiest course(AVG: 288.30)):

1 Peter Senior 286.07
2 Hirofumi Miyase 286.66
3 Colm Moriarty 286.71
4 Mark Calcavecchia 287.19
5 Jeff Overton 287.50
6 Marc Leishman 287.89
7 Scott Verplank 287.91
8 Kevin Na 288.27
9 Bradley Dredge 288.30
10 Ignacio Garrido 288.30

Again, I would never want to take the randomness out of golf. It’s part of what makes each tournament different, fun and exciting. But, when your trying to project the next golf tournament taking as much random luck out of it as possible is the best way to go.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “THE EQUAL WEATHER BRITISH OPEN

  1. cajuncook

    Are you going to use the weather adjusted z-scores for future rankings? Not that one tournament is going to drastically affect (m)any of these players, but, I’m curious.

  2. I only use it in extreme cases(Bethpage last year, Houston last year, if a round is played over two days, etc.). So, for this week I just used Thu-Fri adjusted and let the weekend stand on it’s own.

    I’m not sure how much effect it has. On one hand, yes these guys got too much credit for good weather, but on the other the standard deviation was like 3.6 which it’s usually around 2.9 for an average PGA Tournament, so standardizing it partially negates the spread.

  3. Pingback: First Round Review – 2014 Open Championship | Golf Analytics

  4. Great beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your site, how could i subscribe for a weblog website? The account helped me a applicable deal. I were tiny bit familiar of this your broadcast provided vivid clear concept

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