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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: August 2011

As the year moves on, the RGWR becomes ever more unclear. Almost nobody seems to be able to win more than one tournament this year, and last year's pickings get ever slimmer as the 12-month limit drops old wins. No major winner has more than 2 wins except Martin Kaymer, who's pretty much missing in action lately with all his wins happening in 2010.

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. Luke Donald: 3 wins (1 WGC, 1 BMW), 9 Top5, 36 points. Although Luke still hasn't won a major, he's keeps playing better than everybody else and giving himself chances to win. Add his #1 position in the OWGR and I have to give him the top spot.
  2. Lee Westwood: 3 wins (1 prestige), 4 Top5, 19 points. Again, we have a top player making a mess of the majors but still playing better than almost anybody else. My personal opinion is that he's trying way too hard. After all, the Chubby Chandler stable has been racking up majors -- even his old pal Darren Clarke! -- and that's got to be getting to him.
  3. Martin Kaymer: 4 wins (1 major, 2 prestige), 3 Top5, 31 points. Kaymer is in danger of dropping down in the rankings since his major drops off this month. He's showing signs of improvement -- he did add a Top5 last month. Let this be a lesson, folks -- it's bad news to change a swing that already works well!
  4. Charl Schwartzel: 2 wins (1 major, 1 prestige), 2 Top5, 17 points. No change for Schwartzel this past month, but his Masters win is still very recent.
  5. Darren Clark: 2 wins (1 major), 0 Top5, 13 points. It's all or nothing for Darren, it seems. His Open Championship trophy, coupled with another win just a couple of months ago, puts him among the most recent top performers.
  6. Rory McIlroy: 1 win (1 major), 6 Top5, 22 points. The U.S. Open champ has been colder than winter in Northern Ireland but, despite poor showings in the last month, I have to give him a pass. Most first-time major winners go through it.
  7. Ian Poulter: 2 wins (2 prestige), 1 Top5, 12 points. Poults is another player who's MIA but his recent win over the world #1 makes him stand out among the remaining contenders.
  8. Jhonattan Vegas: 3 wins , 1 Top5, 11 points. Jhonny's pretty much disappeared since his win in January (the other two wins were worldwide wins late in 2010), which is why his 3 win total falls so far down the list.
  9. Nick Watney: 2 wins (1 WGC, 1 prestige), 3 Top5, 18 points. Again, Nick's wins are from earlier in the year, but they're quality wins.
  10. K.J. Choi: 1 wins (1 TPC), 3 Top5, 14 points. I would have given this last spot to Steve Stricker for his win at Jack's tournament, but I think K.J.'s win at TPC outranks that. They're pretty much even otherwise. (CORRECTION: Stricker should be #10 after all. He has 2 wins, both of which I put in my spreadsheet, but somehow the cell with the formula that totals wins missed the latest one.)
Players to watch:
  • Sergio Garcia qualified for both the U.S. and British Open Championships and barely missed out on his first win in a well-played playoff. He's definitely on the comeback trail, and I actually like his chances at the PGA this month.
  • Also making a comeback is Anthony Kim. He's been a bit erratic, but he's definitely trending upward. During an interview at the Greenbrier he said he was having to get over some bad habits picked up after the thumb surgery. I think that's a valid excuse for his lack of consistency right now.
  • Although their last few tournaments haven't looked particularly great, both Jason Day and Tommy Gainey are due for wins.

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