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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: October 2011

We've made it through the FedExCup playoffs and started the Fall Finish, and yet we still don't have a clear indication who will be the Player of the Year. We're still debating why the likely Rookie of the Year didn't make the Presidents Cup team (at least, not yet -- Stricker's possible surgery is still up in the air). And we're just about to find out whether Tiger has his swing back in shape yet. Into this great void of knowledge I offer you one great certainty -- the October RGWR.

Once again, 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), 11 Top5, 40 points. There is no doubt that Luke is #1 in the world. He's got 3 wins -- 2 of them big ones -- and 11 Top5s. Nobody else is even close.
  2. Lee Westwood: 3 wins (1 prestige), 5 Top5, 21 points. Lee continues to get himself into position, even with a balky putter.
  3. Thomas Bjorn: 3 wins (1 prestige), 2 Top5, 16 points. Thomas is one of the feel-good stories of the year. He also has 4 wins in the last 2 years, which may indicate this is more than just a spurt of good play.
  4. Keegan Bradley: 2 wins (1 major, 1 prestige), 3 Top5s, 21 points. Believe it or not, Keegan has quietly racked up the best record among the double-dippers this year -- more Top5s and more consistent.
  5. Charl Schwartzel: 2 wins (1 major, 1 prestige), 2 Top5, 17 points. Another month with no change for Schwartzel, but he does have that Masters win.
  6. Darren Clark: 2 wins (1 major), 0 Top5, 13 points. No change for Darren either, but he still has two wins with a major.
  7. Rory McIlroy: 1 win (1 major), 8 Top5, 26 points. Rory's begun to get his game back on track with 3 Top5s in the last month. He's playing better than anybody else at this level, but with only one win -- even though it's a major -- I can't really rank him above Schwartzel or Clarke.
  8. Nick Watney: 2 wins (1 WGC, 1 prestige), 3 Top5, 18 points. Watney picked up another Top5 this month, giving him a bit more momentum on the RGWR.
  9. Adam Scott: 2 wins (1 WGC, 1 prestige), 2 Top5, 16 points. No change this month, but Adam's had 3 extra Top10s in the last month. That barely squeaked him to #9.
  10. Bill Haas: 2 wins (1 prestige), 4 Top5s, 16 points. Why didn't winning the FedExCup put Bill above Adam? Two reasons: One of Bill's wins was last October (the far reaches of the RGWR) and since July 1st he's only managed 1 win and 1 Top5 in 10 events. (By comparison, Adam had 1 win, 1 Top5, and 3 Top10s in only 8 events.)
Players to watch:
  • In his last 5 events, Tommy Gainey has 2 MCs and 2 Top3s. The Fall Finish may be just what he needs to break through and win.
  • Martin Kaymer, Louis Oosthuizen, and Graeme McDowell all seem to be regaining some form on the European Tour. But will it last?
  • I think Aaron Baddeley may have a new spring in his step because of his Presidents Cup pick.
Of course, everybody will be watching Tiger this week, so I don't have to put him on my list. ;-)

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