Monthly Archives: October 2011

RACE FOR THE 2011 MONEY TITLE

Looks like this:

Luke Donald wins

17.140%

Webb Simpson wins

82.870%

Donald definitely has to get top-2 money without a tie. Then he needs Simpson to make less than around 20th place money if he finishes solo second. That’s why Webb is a big favorite.

It’s taken Webb 7 more events to get his money though, and the books have Donald favored this week, so it’s not like Simpson is a better player.

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HOW TO EVALUATE TOP COLLEGE TALENT

One of the interesting things about the Fall Series is that a lot of top college players from last season will play in a few tournaments. It’s always hard to actually guess how good these players really are, especially when they keep posting high finishes like Patrick Cantlay, Bud Cauley and Peter Uihlein.

Luckily, Golfweek has some pretty good objective college rankings that are similarly judged against the field you play against like my rankings.

So, let’s compare the Top-10 from their college rankings from the last 3 years and their performance on tour.

Year

Z-Score

Rds

Sag Avg.

Class of 2011

0.014

96

69.00

Class of 2010

0.390

53

69.70

Class of 2009

0.138

100

69.55

Class of 2008

0.278

52

69.50

AVERAGE

0.167

301

69.39

Note, that the Sag. Avg. is the average ranking from Sagarin’s college rankings. Also, Class of 2011 doesn’t mean that’s when the graduated, it’s simply 2011 performance from players in the top-10 of the 2010-11 rankings.

To put the average column into perspective, that basically means that the top-10 college players are about in the middle of the average PGA-Tour pro and Nationwide Tour Pro.

Next, a look at, how the actual Sagarin ranking for the individual player compares to performance on pro tours for that year.

This only counts players with more than 8 rounds on pro tours, since 2003. As you can imagine, a lot of randomness in here, but still a correlation that makes sense.

Now, a look at 2011 for three of the top players from last year’s college rankings:

2011

Projected

Actual

Act. Rds

Peter Uihlein

0.0263

-0.019

20

Patrick Cantlay

-0.0161

-0.363

20

Bud Cauley

0.1922

-0.468

22

Uihlein is the only one that has played close to average. Cantlay and Cauley are the No. 1 and 2 players dating back to 2003, and probably since Tiger came out of college in 1996, though neither Sagarin or my numbers currently go back that far. Of course, there is a lot of good fortune that goes into their nice play so far.

Obviously, I’m not the only one trying to do this, last week Vegas opened Cantlay at -150 over Cauley. My estimate based on those projections would be about -190 to Cantlay.

Finally, if you are trying to judge how good these players would eventually become here’s a few things to consider:

Cantlay’s historic performance is not out of nowhere. His 2010-11 college season was the third lowest since 2003. The two below him, Bill Haas and Ryan Moore. After him, Hunter Mahan, Peter Uihlein and Spencer Levin. That certainly bodes well for Uihlein and Cantlay.

Here’s how the other four have fared in their pro careers: (0 = last college year)

These guys all came out below average in their final college season. Interestingly, the first year they took up the tour, they all were worse players, except Hunter Mahan, who was fractions better, but basically the same. They all have also improved pretty steadily and by their late 20s were inside the top-30 in the world.

That’s a lot of talent that Cantlay and Uihlein have shown.

Cauley is no slouch, either. The five players closest to him are D.J. Trahan, Chris Kirk, Camilo Villegas Joel Sjoholm and Rhys Davies. That group isn’t quite as established but still good. Only Villegas had as consistent a college career based on the Sagarin Rankings as Cauley as had.

As for this week, Cauley was the early favorite against Chris Kirk. I know he played well last week, but I don’t really agree with that. If Cauley is really in the class of Cantlay and Uihlein than that should basically be a toss-up, but if he is a little behind that, then I would say Kirk is a -140 or -130 favorite. I’ll be interested to see what that line closes at.

 

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A LOOK AT TIGER WOODS IN 2011

Here’s a look at Tiger’s rounds, based on the field average (negative is good), for 2011 PGA Tour Events. (NOTE: Did not count WD at PLAYERS Championship)

Round number 17 is the start of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Not a whole lot of meaning in these, because of the small sample and randomness, but Tiger did appear to be getting better until the end of the Masters. His injuries derailed that progress.

Here’s another look broken down by pre- and post- Masters rounds.

Same story pretty much, solid improvement leading into the Masters, then slipped up by the injury. Wish he had a few more rounds after the injury to compare them.

The one interesting question, is why has Tiger been so bad. He’s made swing changes before, this is by far the worst he has been in the transition. Injuries are probably a factor, but I can’t help but wonder what Tiger is actually trying to do with the swing changes sometime. He was the best player ever under Haney, and been pretty slow to replicate that success under Foley.

It’s also pretty clear Tiger needs more tournament reps, though playing in the fall series seems like kind of waste. What would he really be prepping for anyway, a month and a half off from December to January? It would be nice to see Tiger add in a few more early season preps leading into the Masters. It was one thing for him to play 15 times a year from 2006-2009, when he was dominating. Now, I think he might need to expand the schedule a little bit.

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TIGER WOODS ODDS CHECK

Ever since I heard the rumor that Tiger fired a 62 in a practice round this week I wondered if people are ready to proclaim him back?

Here’s a look at Tiger’s prices compared to my average strokes ranking dating back to the Masters:

Tournament

Tour

Field – Z

ROI

WGC-Cadillac Champ

P

-0.572

$1.41

API

P

-0.756

$1.04

Masters

M

-0.647

$1.00

WGC-Bridgestone

P

-0.492

$1.53

PGA Championship

M

-0.637

$1.44

Frys.com Open

P

-0.606

$0.60

At first I thought the market might really think Tiger was back. Then I realized there are two things to consider:

-Tiger’s 2009 playoff run (T2, 11, Win, 2) against strong fields, which were counted at the PGA Championship, are no longer in my two-year rankings. Given Tiger’s current play those don’t seem to relevant anymore.

-Tiger is by far the biggest name in this tournament. He probably still was at the PGA Championship, but at least the likes of Westwood, Donald, McIlroy, Mickelson, etc. I can’t see a ton of people jumping on Spencer Levin with the same enthusiasm.

Predictably, the matchups market is probably a better predictor.

Tournament

Player

Adj Win %

Adj -Z

Win %

Diff %

Opponent

PGA Champ.

Tiger Woods

42.89%

-0.736

68.00%

25.11%

Martin Kaymer

PGA Champ.

Tiger Woods

34.35%

-0.736

57.76%

23.41%

Rory McIlroy

PGA Champ.

Tiger Woods

45.73%

-0.736

64.52%

18.80%

Phil Mickelson

PGA Champ.

Tiger Woods

38.13%

-0.736

70.79%

32.66%

Adam Scott

Frys.com Open

Tiger Woods

57.98%

-0.662

73.31%

15.33%

Spencer Levin

Frys.com Open

Tiger Woods

63.92%

-0.662

99.00%

35.08%

Patrick Cantlay

It’s hard to tell because I really don’t have a good generic estimator for Patrick Cantlay. The top-7 college players from last year based on Golfweek’s rankings have played 85 rounds on the PGA Tour and are slightly better than the average pro. That would make Tiger about 90% to beat Cantlay on the Adj-Z, not 99%. Still, that’s way too high, and I think a good indicator that people aren’t quite convinced that Tiger is back yet.

I came up with about 11-1 to win this week.

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