Monthly Archives: November 2010

STEVE STRICKER: 2011 PGA TOUR PREVIEW

Round-for-Round, no one other than Tiger Woods has been better over the past three years.

CAREER MAP:

Stricker is one of the few players who has appeared to change a lot over his career. In the late 90s, Stricker was a top-ten player, then he fell off the map for a few years, and has returned to top form the last few years. That seems to be pretty rare.

Stricker is somewhat alone amongst great players in that statistically Stricker is not as pure a ball striker as some of the other big talents. Stricker is primarily carried by a ridiculous game inside of 100 yards. He makes a lot of putts, he’s always among the game’s best at scrambling and he’s great at around 150-75 yards.

This raises a couple points:

One, Stricker made 18.6 percent of his putts from outside of ten feet this season. That was fifth on the PGA Tour. In 2009, he made 16.9 percent. In 2008, it was 15.4 percent. Over three years his average is around 16.9 percent. Over 500 shots

That suggests Stricker is at least a little lucky, when it comes to making putts this year, whether it’s because he made more than he should have, or his attempts outside of 10 feet were closer than normal or easier than normal. Either way, this should regress.

The other point with Stricker, is to wonder whether his style of play is more suited to regular tour events. Stricker doesn’t have the flashy game that some of the other top players have. This really isn’t terrible, because Stricker has won some big tournaments and a ton of money. However, I do wonder if his game is less suited to majors than other big guns. When it’s the TPC of Deere Lick, his game seems perfectly suited. On courses with tougher conditions at majors Stricker has not had as much success.

Historically, Stricker’s major performance is below average, but not crazily so. It’s about 1 standard deviation below his average in the last five years, so it might just be some bad luck.

As far as 2011, A few less putts should drop and Stricker is a year older, but I don’t think he’s falling too far.

2011 PROJECTION:

BETTER THAN 2010: 16.9%

KEEPS HIS CARD: 100%

Z-SCORE: -.62

ST. DEV: .95

ODDS OF WINNING A MAJOR (Assumes above ranking): 4.8%

Average played (Based on above ranking and PGA Tour exemption category): 3.98

DISTRIBUTION*

 

At least one

17.750%

No majors

82.250%

one major

16.494%

two majors

1.204%

three majors

0.052%

four majors

0.000%

*50,000 sims

 

 

 

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TIGER WOODS: PGA TOUR 2011 PREVIEW

I’m going to make an effort to make this a series that hits on all of the eligible players in some fashion, plus some key European players. That’s the goal. In reality, I will probably fall well short of that, but we will see.

Tiger Woods is the obvious starting point. Much of the talk about who is the world’s best golfer via the OWGR’s is complete garbage. Tiger did not have the best season, so if you want to reward that, feel free to put Stricker, Westwood or Kuchar as the No. 1.

If, however, you want to project who will be the world’s best golfer tomorrow, it’s still Tiger.

CAREER MAP:

Tiger’s 2010 is almost certainly affected by personal issues. The odds of Tiger, based on his career level of play, playing that poorly for 45 rounds are somewhere in the 55,000,000,000,000,000,000,000-to-one area. (I’m not even sure what that number is.) Obviously, looking back at some of the divorce/family situation and Tiger’s apparent lack of concern for playing in anything other than a major this season, I think we can safely assume he was distracted, did not give this season his full attention.

The key with Tiger is his effort. If he puts as much focus, attention and practice into the next 14 years of his career that he did his first 14 then there is absolutely no reason to think he is not in the 98% range of breaking Jack. If he decides he wants to spend more time with his kids and treats the rest of his career like he did 2010, then it’s quite unlikely he would break Jack’s record.

I don’t know Tiger and have no reasonable insight into how he will approach the game of golf going forward, so I can only add a guess. It seems that in the closing part of the season, Tiger’s game returned more consistently-though not 100%-and he seemed to have a passion for the game that was not there circa Quail Hollow Invitational.

If that’s the case, there is no reason to think Tiger won’t return to close to 2006-2009 levels. Will he ever be as good as that? Probably not, but that’s okay, considering that was the highest sustained level of golf anyone has ever played. Even making it to 95% of that, would leave Tiger as by far the best golfer in the world and a great chance of breaking Jack.

2011 PROJECTION:

BETTER THAN 2010: 100%

KEEPS HIS CARD: 100%

Z-SCORE: -1.05

ST. DEV: .90

ODDS OF WINNING A MAJOR (Assumes above ranking): 15.30%

Average played (Based on above ranking and PGA Tour exemption category): 4

DISTRIBUTION*

 

At least one

48.444%

No majors

51.556%

one major

37.050%

two majors

10.116%

three majors

1.218%

four majors

0.060%

*50,000 sims

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HSBC CHAMPIONS ROUND 3 LIVE ODDS

Let’s Roll with some Live Odds Tonight:

     

Updated

11/6/2010 1:57

Pos.

RTP

Thru

Player

Odds to win

1

-12

10

Francesco Molinari

45.11%

2

-10

10

Lee Westwood

30.21%

3

-8

10

Luke Donald

10.85%

T4

-7

11

Ross Fisher

2.55%

T4

-7

10

Richie Ramsay

1.06%

T4

-7

10

Jaco Van Zyl

0.64%

T7

-6

14

Pablo Martin

0.21%

T7

-6

10

Ernie Els

2.34%

T9

-5

F

Paul Casey

0.00%

T9

-5

17

Charl Schwartzel*

0.00%

T9

-5

10

Padraig Harrington

2.13%

T12

-4

17

Tim Clark

0.21%

T12

-4

16

Peter Hanson

0.00%

T12

-4

11

Fredrik Andersson Hed

0.64%

T12

-4

11

Seung-yul Noh

0.21%

T16

-3

17

Retief Goosen*

0.21%

T16

-3

13

Richard Green

0.21%

T16

-3

13

Henrik Stenson

1.06%

T16

-3

13

Ian Poulter

0.21%

T16

-3

13

Tiger Woods

0.64%

T21

-2

F

Ryo Ishikawa

0.00%

T21

-2

F

Hunter Mahan

0.00%

T21

-2

F

K.J. Choi

0.00%

T21

-2

17

Rory McIlroy

0.00%

T21

-2

16

Darren Fichardt*

0.00%

T21

-2

15

Martin Kaymer

0.00%

T21

-2

13

Nick Watney

0.43%

T21

-2

10

Robert Allenby

0.64%

 

 

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HSBC CHAMPIONS: TIGER THE FAVORITE; LIVE ODDS

Updated after round 1. It’s possible I’ll update this post throughout the night, so check back if you can’t sleep.

Updated

11/5/2010 1:59

 

Pos.

RTP

Thru

Player

Odds to win

1

-2

16

Francesco Molinari

16.69%

2

-1

10

Lee Westwood

18.51%

T3

-1

17

Seung-yul Noh

2.54%

T3

-2

14

Luke Donald

5.41%

T3

-6

11

Ernie Els

8.30%

T6

-2

17

Fredrik Andersson Hed*

1.09%

T6

-4

16

Jaco Van Zyl*

0.36%

T6

-2

13

Richie Ramsay*

0.57%

T6

-2

10

Ryan Palmer*

2.81%

T10

-2

17

Richard S. Johnson*

0.12%

T10

-1

15

Ross Fisher

1.11%

T10

-2

12

Ian Poulter

4.78%

T10

-4

12

Nick Watney

5.20%

T10

E

11

Tiger Woods

12.76%

T10

-1

10

Phil Mickelson

6.38%

T10

-1

10

Y.E. Yang

1.90%

T17

2

F

Henrik Stenson

0.88%

T17

-3

16

Kyung-Tae Kim

0.09%

T17

-3

14

Robert Allenby

1.10%

T17

-3

10

Martin Kaymer

1.55%

T21

-1

17

Tetsuji Hiratsuka*

0.01%

T21

-1

16

Ben Crane

0.39%

T21

-2

14

Miguel Angel Jimenez

0.45%

T21

E

13

Padraig Harrington

1.28%

T21

-1

13

Rory McIlroy

1.38%

T21

-2

12

Ryo Ishikawa

0.50%

T21

2

11

Pablo Martin*

0.21%

T21

-1

11

Carl Pettersson*

0.09%

T29

E

F

Heath Slocum

0.04%

T29

-2

17

Peter Hanson

0.10%

T29

2

17

Adam Scott

0.49%

T29

-1

15

K.J. Choi

0.13%

T29

-1

14

Tim Clark

0.26%

T29

-2

13

Andrew Dodt*

0.07%

T29

E

10

Matteo Manassero*

0.16%

T29

E

9

Michio Matsumura*

0.03%

T37

E

17

Bill Haas*

0.08%

T37

-1

17

Arjun Atwal*

0.03%

T37

E

14

Edoardo Molinari

0.02%

T37

1

14

David Horsey*

0.00%

T37

5

13

Yuta Ikeda

0.03%

T37

2

13

Retief Goosen

0.47%

T37

E

13

Jason Bohn*

0.08%

T37

-2

11

Graeme McDowell

0.20%

T37

3

11

Katsumasa Miyamoto*

0.00%

T37

-1

10

Paul Casey

0.65%

T37

2

10

Hunter Mahan

0.35%

T37

E

10

Stuart Appleby*

0.01%

T37

E

9

Richard Green*

0.07%

T50

2

F

Rickie Fowler

0.09%

T50

2

F

Anders Hansen

0.00%

T50

2

17

Robert Karlsson

0.04%

T50

-1

17

Charl Schwartzel

0.04%

T50

-4

15

Danny Willett*

0.03%

T55

-2

17

Rhys Davies*

0.00%

T55

1

15

Gregory Bourdy*

0.02%

T55

1

14

Anthony Kim

0.04%

T58

E

15

Camilo Villegas

0.01%

T58

2

12

Darren Fichardt*

0.00%

T58

3

11

Marcus Fraser*

0.00%

T61

2

17

Hiroyuki Fujita

0.00%

T61

3

17

Alistair Presnell*

0.00%

T61

5

16

Shunsuke Sonoda*

0.00%

T61

2

15

Mardan Mamat*

0.00%

T61

1

14

Brendan Jones*

0.00%

T61

8

13

Louis Oosthuizen

0.00%

T61

5

11

Michael Sim*

0.00%

T61

1

9

Simon Khan*

0.00%

T69

3

14

Wu Kang-chun*

0.00%

T69

3

12

Thaworn Wiratchant*

0.00%

T69

E

11

Kiradech Aphibarnrat*

0.00%

T72

6

F

Alvaro Quiros

0.00%

T72

1

16

Hao Yuan*

0.00%

T72

2

12

Bill Lunde*

0.00%

75

8

17

Pariya Junhasavasdikul*

0.00%

76

6

17

Chao Li*

0.00%

77

0

0

0

0.00%

78

7

17

0

0.00%

* player started on back nine.

0

0

0

0.00%

 

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SO, WHO IS THE NO. 1 PLAYER IN THE WORLD?

There’s a lot of garbage floating around about who the best golfer in the world right now is. Here’s a few opinions that actually matter:

Pinnacle:

The Greek:

5dimes:

I also don’t understand the prevailing wisdom that the player who has played best in the last four weeks is without a doubt the best player in the world right now. Like no one in golf history has ever had a great 4-week stretch.

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DID PRESSURE HAVE ANY IMPACT AT THE NATIONWIDE TOUR CHAMP?

The Nationwide Tour Championship is one of the most pressure-packed events on the PGA Tour.

You make it into the top-25, you get your card. You come up short, it’s back to the Nationwide Tour.

Aside from all the non-monetary aspects like achieving a dream of making the PGA Tour, and the sponsorship opportunities for being a PGA pro, it’s basically a $400,000 dollar bonus in earnings for making the tour. Over the past two years, the average money earned for players who fall into “The 25” the next year is around $560,000. For those who fall from 26-60, its around $155,000 made the next year.

That’s a lot of money for someone who has been touring the country in a beat-up Honda Civic.

So, with all those consequences in mind, does it really affect play at the Nationwide Tour Championship?

To take a look into this, I gave each player a pressure rating based on the above numbers. I struggled to come up with a system to accurately account for pressure, but I ended up using a ranking that accounted for how close a player was to 50-50. So the players with a 50-50 chance would be under the most pressure, while the players with 100% or 0% chances of earning their tour card would be under the most.

Overall, there wasn’t much connection:

At last week’s tour championship it really didn’t matter how much on the line your tour card was, players basically played to their average. However, I wanted break it down a little further to determine.

The first was simply averaging out the players scores based on two simple criteria: You’re guaranteed a card prior to the round, or you’re not.

CARD NOT AT STAKE:

90 of the 236 rounds at Daniel Island were played with a tour card determined. Sixty-eight after the card had been clinched, 22 after there was 0 chance in 50,000 tries of earning a card. Not surprisingly the players who clinched a tour card were on average -.09 standard deviations better than the field over two years. They played about -.07 standard deviations better than the field at the Tour Championship, so basically average.

The players who played rounds with no shot were—again, obviously—worse than average for this field. They came into the tournament about .12 standard deviations worse than average and played the Tour Championship at .01 standard deviations worse than the field.

What does that all mean, not much really. In 68 rounds that were guaranteed with a tour card performance fell in the 44th-percentile. For those with no shot, it looks like they played a lot better, but there were only 22 rounds all week with no shot. So, they were in the 70th-percentile, well within one standard deviation of the mean.

CARD NOT GUARANTED:

There were 146 rounds play this week with a tour card in jeopardy. These players were slightly worse than average coming into the week at .02 standard deviations worse than the field. This group slightly under-performed for the week at an average round of .04. That falls around the 40th percentile in 146 rounds, still well within one standard deviation of the mean.

You could argue, looking at this, that there was a slight effect for being under pressure. However, I think the easiest solution here is just randomness. I’m sure if you looked at more NW Tour Championships the data it would probably even out.

Of course, one flaw that seems somewhat likely considering the PGA Tour keeps putting up awful “projections” that players really have no idea where they currently stand. This is quite possible.

Overall, though, it doesn’t seem likely that pressure actually affected performance this week. If you cherry pick a few players you can probably find some instances that looked like* pressure wilted a player, but yet again it seems like on the average nerves don’t have much of an impact.

*I’m not trying to say this doesn’t exist. I’m saying that it’s incredibly hard to prove. Sure it may exist, and some players may certainly choke, while others thrive, but the data is so limited that most of the time people are probably just fooled by randomness.

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