Monthly Archives: June 2011

A BRIEF LOOK AT TIGER IN 2000

Here are the top-10 seasons from 2000 (PGA Tour only):

Player

Average

Rounds

Tiger Woods

-1.386

72

Phil Mickelson

-0.822

76

Ernie Els

-0.797

64

David Duval

-0.750

59

Nick Price

-0.664

58

Paul Azinger

-0.651

72

Steve Flesch

-0.632

113

Tom Lehman

-0.613

69

Davis Love III

-0.594

88

Vijay Singh

-0.557

84

 

That seems to be pretty obviously Tiger’s best season ever, although it’s worth noting that the PGA Tour average in 2000 might not be as good as it was in 2006-2008 when Tiger was comparable.

That raises the question is it more impressive to average -1.386 over 72 rounds or -1.25 over 150 like he did from 2006 through 2008 (It would be higher if you cut 2006 in half, but I didn’t feel like doing that).

It’s turns out that using his 2000-2009 average, 2000 is about a 1 in 100 season, and 2006-2008 is about 1 in 20 seasons. If you take from the 2006 Western Open to 2008 US Open, they are probably about equal stretches of golf, all else equal.

As far as the strength of field issues, I’m not really sure how to quickly look at that. If you judge by players who played over 40 rounds in both 2000 and 2007, their average drops about -.1 from 2000 to 2007. Obviously, being seven years older is probably a big factor for many of those players.

Another way might be too look at the breakdown by score relative to average, since my theory is that an increase in the number tour average player makes it harder to separate yourself from the field.

Here’s that comparison among players with 40+ rounds in each season:

So this is basically what percentage of players who are a certain level better than average. At the top, it’s slightly less great players in 2007 (less than -.7 standard deviations), while there appear to be more players who are better than average. Seems to be in line with my theory, but I have no idea how much harder that made it for 2007 Tiger, or if this quick comparison is even meaningful.

I don’t know, It was pretty incredible watching what Tiger did in the 2000 US and British Opens, but following more closely from 2006-2008, I’d still lean to the incredible level of play and consistency over a longer stretch of time. I can see the argument for both, though.

 

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2011 AT&T NATIONAL

Top-25:

Player

total wins

odds

Nick Watney

5.53%

1707

Hunter Mahan

4.48%

2130

Ryan Moore

3.80%

2532

Bo Van Pelt

3.32%

2911

K.J. Choi

3.01%

3223

Bill Haas

2.60%

3743

Adam Scott

2.54%

3831

Justin Rose

2.47%

3954

Jim Furyk

2.44%

3996

Rickie Fowler

2.33%

4187

Webb Simpson

2.23%

4388

J.B. Holmes

2.16%

4529

Charles Howell III

2.16%

4529

Geoff Ogilvy

1.46%

6728

Vijay Singh

1.45%

6810

Kevin Streelman

1.45%

6813

Carl Pettersson

1.43%

6872

Steve Marino

1.41%

7001

Robert Allenby

1.40%

7050

Ricky Barnes

1.38%

7152

Jeff Overton

1.38%

7170

Jason Dufner

1.35%

7288

Lucas Glover

1.34%

7346

Brian Gay

1.34%

7364

Camilo Villegas

1.28%

7735

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2011 TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP TOP-25

Player

total wins

odds

vegas

winning

Hunter Mahan

5.30%

1785

1000

$0.58

Nick Watney

5.16%

1839

1400

$0.77

Bubba Watson

3.67%

2626

1600

$0.62

Zach Johnson

3.46%

2787

1800

$0.66

David Toms

3.35%

2885

2000

$0.70

Jim Furyk

3.02%

3207

4000

$1.24

Bo Van Pelt

0

3651

2000

$0.56

Ryan Moore

2.66%

3654

3000

$0.83

Brandt Snedeker

2.63%

3705

2000

$0.55

Padraig Harrington

2.13%

4586

4000

$0.87

Ian Poulter

2.06%

4745

4000

$0.85

Geoff Ogilvy

1.81%

5413

4500

$0.83

Fredrik Jacobson

1.78%

5524

3000

$0.55

J.B. Holmes

1.77%

5543

4000

$0.73

Lucas Glover

1.76%

5582

4000

$0.72

Martin Laird

1.64%

5983

4500

$0.76

Webb Simpson

1.63%

6027

2500

$0.42

Vijay Singh

1.54%

6385

4500

$0.71

Scott Verplank

1.36%

7253

5000

$0.69

Kevin Na

1.31%

7545

5000

$0.67

Kevin Streelman

1.29%

7628

4500

$0.60

Ben Crane

1.26%

7862

7000

$0.89

Ricky Barnes

1.22%

8110

4500

$0.56

Brandt Jobe

1.14%

8657

4500

$0.53

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A TALE OF FOUR MAJOR WINNERS

You pick the best:

MAJOR A

Age: 21 years

Winning Margin: 12 strokes

Average:

 

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Total

Field

76.10

74.19

72.24

73.24

295.77

Player

70

66

65

69

270

Diff

-6.10

-8.19

-7.24

-4.24

-25.77

 

MAJOR B

Age: 22

Winning Margin: 8 strokes

 

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Total

Field

74.11

73.10

71.92

71.44

290.57

Player

65

66

68

69

268

Diff

-9.11

-7.10

-3.92

-2.44

-22.57

 

MAJOR C

Age: 24

Winning Margin: 15 strokes

 

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Total

Field

75.01

75.86

77.13

73.22

301.23

Player

65

69

71

67

272

Diff

-10.01

-6.86

-6.13

-6.22

-29.23

 

MAJOR D

Age: 27

Winning Margin: 8 strokes

 

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Total

Field

71.75

75.13

72.27

72.35

291.51

Player

65

67

69

71

272

Diff

-6.75

-8.13

-3.27

-1.35

-19.51

 

Can you pick out each one?

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HITTIN’ THE LINKS: US OPEN EDITION

It seems like four times every year, Ken Pom tackles golf. Once again, he came up with some pretty good stuff. Worth a read:

Best seasons by Age

How many majors will Rory McIlroy win?
The Case for Tiger Woods

I completely agree with his thoughts on Tiger, provided Tiger wants to work as hard as he did when he was dominating. I don’t think that has been the case outside of majors the last few years.

And finally, here’s an old post I did on major championship pressure. I heard that the 54-hole leader hasn’t broken 70 in the final round in the last 13 majors. That’s not as intimidating as it sounds since most major courses play to around 74 or 75 strokes, but there still seems to be a pretty big pressure factor:

Final round pressure

Will have my preview up later tonight.

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2011 US OPEN

This might not mean a whole lot, but this is basically a ranking of how the best players in the world would do if there was nothing else that mattered besides overall skill:

Player

total wins

odds

Lee Westwood

6.52%

1434

Steve Stricker

6.23%

1506

Matt Kuchar

4.53%

2106

Luke Donald

3.48%

2770

Phil Mickelson

2.94%

3306

Martin Kaymer

2.79%

3482

Rory McIlroy

2.67%

3645

Jim Furyk

2.58%

3782

Retief Goosen

2.53%

3856

Hunter Mahan

2.39%

4084

Graeme McDowell

2.26%

4325

Nick Watney

2.23%

4380

Paul Casey

2.13%

4595

Francesco Molinari

2.11%

4648

Dustin Johnson

2.05%

4788

Zach Johnson

1.84%

5323

Charl Schwartzel

1.55%

6360

Robert Allenby

1.49%

6611

Justin Rose

1.48%

6648

Padraig Harrington

1.48%

6657

Jason Day

1.44%

6825

Stewart Cink

1.40%

7043

K.J. Choi

1.37%

7178

David Toms

1.34%

7363

Ryan Moore

1.30%

7592

Bubba Watson

1.30%

7604

Ernie Els

1.29%

7676

Brandt Snedeker

1.27%

7762

Bill Haas

1.25%

7900

Bo Van Pelt

1.23%

8004

Ian Poulter

1.15%

8596

Peter Hanson

1.11%

8925

Kevin Na

1.10%

9007

Of course there is more that will come into play this week, but this is a pretty good starting point.

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WHO SHOULD BE NO. 1 at CONGRESSIONAL?

If you waste time caring about what the OWGR’s think makes the best golfer, you’re just wasting a lot of time.

The more important question is, “When the world’s best golfers step onto the Tee at Congressional next week, who will be the best?”

That’s an interesting question. For one, you could spend most of the remaining time until next Thursday debating Tiger’s health and actual level of skill right now. Luckily, he did us all a favor and withdrew.

That leaves the question, “What makes the best golfer in the world?”

Is it success at a major? Hot recent play? Big clutch finishes? A course that suits a given player? Overall skill?

Despite that every golf “pundit” says success at a major should be a defining skill, it doesn’t really have much value. The world’s best players play the same at non-majors as they do at majors. Almost every exception (Phil Mickelson: above average; Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk: below average) can be explained by variance. Furthermore, players (Y.E. Yang, Rich Beem, etc.) who have won majors, don’t seem to improve in future majors or even players like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson seem to play well below average (the same as everyone else) when they have a pressure tee-time on Sunday at a major. Overall I don’t think success at majors really means too much.

On a similar token, recent play and good course form can mean good things, but isn’t hugely important. It may be enough to tip the scales between close players, but an average PGA Tour golfer coming off two top-10 finishes or with a good couple of weeks at Congressional is still, shocker, an average PGA Tour golfer.

It turns out the most important thing is basically, just plain old, boring overall skill. And you can pretty much go back further than you think and it turns out the same. Here is a two-year top-10:

 

Player

score

1

Tiger Woods

-0.79156

2

Lee Westwood

-0.71558

3

Steve Stricker

-0.70427

4

Matt Kuchar

-0.62817

5

Luke Donald

-0.56608

6

Phil Mickelson

-0.5334

7

Martin Kaymer

-0.5152

8

Rory McIlroy

-0.50265

9

Jim Furyk

-0.4986

10

Hunter Mahan

-0.48225

And from 5-years:

1

Tiger Woods

-1.0518

2

Steve Stricker

-0.6440

3

Phil Mickelson

-0.6432

4

Jim Furyk

-0.6368

5

Luke Donald

-0.5674

6

Ernie Els

-0.5084

7

Sergio Garcia

-0.4889

8

Padraig Harrington

-0.4864

9

Lee Westwood

-0.4776

10

Vijay Singh

-0.4720

As you can see, a little more fluctuation over two-year period, especially for young and old guys, but basically the same players.

I think that pretty clearly puts Stricker and Donald as the two best players coming into this week. Neither have really had a ton of success at majors (Donald: -.44; Stricker: -.52 in last six years), but it’s hard to argue with their overall talent over the last five years.

In the group right behind them, I think you have to throw Phil (Still talented, strong history at majors) Kuchar and Westwood (both on really hot 2-year runs). After that, you have to consider Sergio, whose last year seems to be an aberration, some of the young guys like Kaymer and McIlroy and Furyk. My rankings for next week (right now) might look something like this:

  1. Steve Stricker
  1. Luke Donald
  2. Phil Mickelson
  3. Lee Westwood
  4. Matt Kuchar
  5. Martin Kaymer
  6. Sergio Garcia
  7. Rory McIlroy
  8. Jim Furyk
  9. Paul Casey

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