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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: June 2011

Yes, I'm hitting these a day early. I normally do them on the first Tuesday of the month, but that would throw me a whole week later.

I've made a couple more slight alterations to my system this month, so here are the updated RGWG criteria:
I focus on the last 12 months of play -- that's long enough to see some consistency but short enough to be current. Every player in the RGWR won at least once on either the PGA or European Tour. The OWGR rates consistency over the last 2 years, so I see no reason to rank that; my RGWR says if you're a top player, you've won somewhere recently. My priority list (based on quality of field) looks like this:
  1. majors, TPC (PGAT), BMW PGA (ET), and WGCs
  2. FedExCup playoffs and prestige events (like Bay Hill and Dubai)
  3. other PGA and ET events
As you can see, I've put the ET's BMW PGA Championship at the same level as the PGA Tour's TPC. It's the ET's flagship event (as the TPC is ours) and played on a single course that's been accused of being "tricked up" yet still managed to give us World #1 and #2 in a playoff. That's good enough for me!

I put extra emphasis on recent form, and I make some allowance if you're recovering from injury or serious sickness. Also, remember that I count Top5s as a separate category from wins; if you see a player has 3 Top5s, those are seconds through fifths only.

I assign points to tournaments this way:
  • Majors: 10 points
  • TPC & BMW PGA: 8 points (yes, I'm calling them equals!)
  • WGC: 7 points
  • Prestige events: 5 points
  • Regular wins: 3 points
  • Top 5 finishes: 2 points
I've decided to give full credit for wins on the "minor" tours like the Nationwide and Asian Tours provided the winner has a current win on the PGA or European Tour. These wins will count only as "regular" wins and not "prestige" wins, no matter how prestigious they may be for their tour, because they generally don't have the strength of field of a regular PGA or ET event.

And because of a strange quirk on the ET site, I've decided I have to specifically state that a tournament win can only count once. I know that sounds weird, but here's the situation: Michael Hoey won the Madeira Islands Open but it counted as 2 wins because it was co-sanctioned by the ET and the Challenge Tour (the ET's equivalent of our Nationwide Tour). I understand that it counts as both a Challenge Tour win and a European Tour win... but that's not two wins, guys! Therefore, to avoid possible confusion, I'm just telling you that the RGWR says you can only win a tournament once at a time.

As usual, the points affect my rankings but don't override my personal opinions:
  1. Lee Westwood: 4 wins (1 prestige), 4 Top5, 22 points. To be honest, I don't feel Lee should be #1 -- he's still a bit too inconsistent for my tastes. But the RGWR places a lot of importance on wins and on current form, so by the criteria I use, Westwood is the most deserving of the #1 spot.
  2. Martin Kaymer: 4 wins (1 major, 2 prestige), 2 Top5, 29 points. Kaymer is still ahead of McDowell because he has a win this year, plus he's playing better as of late.
  3. Graeme McDowell: 4 wins (1 major, 3 prestige), 5 Top5, 36 points. The U.S. Open champ is still struggling, but I look for him to come out of this funk soon. The signs are there.
  4. Luke Donald: 2 wins (1 WGC, 1 BMW), 11 Top5, 37 points. Luke fell victim of a strange aspect of my recordkeeping -- his win at the Madrid Masters last year came after the BMW PGA, so technically he still has 3 wins. Unfortunately, I go by dates rather than playing order and the MM was in May, so it dropped off the RGWR the same week he won the BMW this year. But with those 11 Top5s, I've still put him at RGWR#4. In my opinion, he should be #1 here like he is on the OWGR because he gets in position to win more often than anybody else... but the RGWR can only be bent so much.
  5. Bubba Watson: 3 wins (1 prestige), 3 Top5, 17 points. Bubba's stats remain the same as last month. Perhaps he needs some time to catch his breath.
  6. Jhonattan Vegas: 3 wins, 1 Top5, 11 points. Jhonattan hasn't budged either. I suspect his problem is just a matter of getting used to his newfound notoriety.
  7. Charl Schwartzel: 2 wins (1 major), 2 Top5, 17 points. His Masters win is so recent that it weighs heavily on his ranking, but he's nowhere near as consistent as Luke Donald; there's something to be said for a body of work versus a single big win. Still, Schwartzel posted another Top5 since his big win, something many players haven't done.
  8. Alvaro Quiros: 2 wins (1 prestige), 5 Top5, 13 points. His point total dropped this month but he picked up another Top5 finish. I think he's almost ready to break out.
  9. Matteo Manassero: 2 wins, 3 Top5, 12 points. What can I say? He's played well enough to qualify for the U.S. Open (#30 on the OGWR!), so he's doing something right.
  10. Ian Poulter: 2 wins (2 prestige), 1 Top5, 12 points. Granted, Poults hasn't set the world on fire lately. Still, he won the Volvo World Match Play Championship against Luke Donald, who's no slouch at match play himself. He seems to be over his "flat spot" and is getting into the hunt a bit more often now, so I like where he's headed.
The RGWR Short List U.S. Open Favorites (in no particular order):
  • David Toms: Toms has one major win, so he knows how to get it done. He's played extremely well for the last few months (a win and 3 Top5s), and he's shown he's still got the resilience to handle adversity on the course.
  • Matteo Manassero: The kid has shown some vulnerability on the big stage; witness his poor last round at the BMW this past weekend. But he's got to learn somehow, and I think he'll place well at Congressional; he's too good not to.
  • Luke Donald: Luke has been my favorite for months, despite his sometimes unruly driver. But after that little show he put on at Wentworth last week, I'm no longer sure it's as much of a liability as I first thought.
  • K.J. Choi: When K.J.'s putting well, he's a force to be reckoned with. And having won at Congressional before, he's bringing along some good memories.
  • Jason Day: He's my dark horse. After his T2 at Augusta and his title defense rally to finish 5th (and as one of only 5 players under par) at the Nelson this past week, I feel really good about his chances.
  • Lee Westwood: I know the rap -- he can't close 'em out. But when you keep getting to the dance floor, eventually somebody's gonna dance with you. With his tee-to-green game, it could very well be this month.

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