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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: July 2011

Because nobody not named Yani Tseng is dominating in the golf world right now, the RGWR has been overrun with one-time winners. To make matters worse, many of the multiple winners haven't played particularly well recently. (That means you, Martin Kaymer!) So the July rankings got shaken up more than I first thought.

Here are the 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
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 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. 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 point total (and even the number of wins) a player has affects my rankings but doesn't override my personal opinions:
  1. Lee Westwood: 3 wins (1 prestige), 5 Top5, 21 points. Lee made it to the top of my heap last month... with reservations. I said I didn't think he was playing well enough to be there. However, with 2 wins in the last 3 months plus a Top5 at the U.S. Open, my reservations are gone.
  2. Martin Kaymer: 4 wins (1 major, 2 prestige), 2 Top5, 29 points. Kaymer remains here simply because he played too well during the early part of my rating period -- I can't ignore 4 wins and a major. But he hasn't played well recently, and if he doesn't get it together in a couple of months...
  3. Luke Donald: 2 wins (1 WGC, 1 BMW), 10 Top5, 35 points. Luke played badly at the U.S. Open, but he wasn't the only top player to do so. He's still #1 in the OWGR, he's still won recently, and he's still without a major.
  4. Charl Schwartzel: 2 wins (1 major, 1 prestige), 2 Top5, 17 points. His recent Masters win carries a lot of weight, he has two wins, he added a Top5 since the Masters, and he did manage a Top10 at the last major. That's good enough to rise in the rankings right now.
  5. Rory McIlroy: 1 win (1 major), 8 Top5, 26 points. The U.S. Open champ picked up his first major plus another Top5. Majors count for more when no one dominates the Tour, and his consistency is starting to rival Donald.
  6. Steve Stricker: 2 wins (1 prestige), 3 Top5, 14 points. If you have Jack's tournament in your pocket when we've got "Winner of the Week" going, that's a big deal.
  7. Matteo Manassero: 2 wins, 3 Top5, 12 points. The kid hasn't done much since he qualified for the U.S. Open, but he's still a recent winner -- something many multiple winners can't say right now.
  8. Ian Poulter: 2 wins (2 prestige), 1 Top5, 12 points. Again, a player who hasn't stood out in the last month but who has a recent win over the world #1.
  9. Louis Oosthuizen: 2 wins (1 major), 3 Top5, 19 points. In a world where the big boys are relatively quiet, his win in January coupled with a Top10 at the U.S. Open (coupled with his Open Championship trophy, of course) earned him a spot this month.
  10. Bubba Watson: 2 wins, 3 Top5, 14 points. Bubba has been a little quiet lately, but he's a multiple winner with a win in the last couple of months. I was really disappointed in his play at the last major, given how soft the course was... but I was disappointed with a lot of players, so don't guess I can hold it against him. All I can do is shake my head and say "oh oh oh..."
Players to watch:
  • After being up-and-down for most of the year, Fredrik Jacobson seems to have righted the boat. A decent U.S. Open finish followed by a win at the Travelers has him on the right track. Besides, he has two other kids who want trophies...
  • Matt Kuchar and Jason Day are both due. Day seems to have found his rhythm (I did say I expected good things from him at Congressional, though it was his first U.S. Open) and Kuchar just keeps getting into contention.
  • Sergio Garcia is back! I don't know what to expect from him this month, but you don't play the way he has lately (a 5-hole playoff is no small thing, especially after all the major qualifying and T7 at Congressional) unless something's burning inside again.
  • Rory McIlroy. Need I say anything more?
  • But my early favorite for the Open Championship this month is Lee Westwood. That final-round charge at Congressional was the kind of spirit I've been looking for from #2.

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