Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: February 2012

The big names were slow to get in the game this January. They didn't play much and, when they did, they all looked a bit rusty to me. But we expect that, don't we? And we did see some really good golf, along with a possible preview (at Abu Dhabi) of what the majors may look like this year. There's not much I could say that would add to that.

So chill out to the mellow sounds of the RGWR 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), the latter often determined by the history and difficulty of the course
  3. other PGA and ET events
I put extra emphasis on recent form -- 2 wins separated by 6 months don't carry the weight of 2 wins back-to-back -- 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
  • Other wins: 1 point
I give full credit (not in point value, but they carry the same weight as "official" victories) for wins on the "minor" tours like the Nationwide and Australasian 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 field strength of a regular PGA or ET event.

I'm not counting the Grand Slam of Golf as a win in my rankings. I've decided that 4 players isn't a large enough field to give it the weight of a win against a larger field. However, I do take a win there into consideration in my rankings, much as I do money title or scoring awards. Other limited-field events (up to maybe 24 players or so) are counted as wins if the player also has an official win on the "big tours" but they only get a single point. The OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup (the 2-man team event) counts in this category.

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, although the point totals (and even the number of wins) a player has affects my rankings, they don't override my personal opinions. It's my ranking system, after all:
  1. Luke Donald: 4 wins (1 WGC, 1 BMW), 10 Top5, 4 awards, 45 points. Luke got off to a slow start this year, but after last year -- and with only one start in 2012 so far -- I'll give him a pass.
  2. Rory McIlroy: 3 wins (1 major, 1 other), 7 Top5, 28 points. Rory came in 2nd at Abu Dhabi and could have won if he hadn't had sand problems in the second round.
  3. Steve Stricker: 3 wins (1 prestige), 1 Top5, 15 points. It's a little strange -- Stricks doesn't have many Top5s, despite the 3 wins. Hopefully he'll do better now that he's got the Hyundai under his belt.
  4. Lee Westwood: 3 wins (1 prestige), 4 Top5, 15 points. Lee's another guy who got a slow start but it's early in the year yet.
  5. Branden Grace: 2 wins, 2 Top5, 10 points. Another South African apparently shooting out of nowhere, Branden won back-to-back in January. That's definitely the kind of performance I take notice of!
  6. Thomas Bjorn: 3 wins (1 prestige), 2 Top5, 15 points. After several quiet months, Thomas came out and got a Top5 against the stacked field at Abu Dhabi. Again, that's something I notice -- especially when you've got 3 wins already
  7. Brandt Snedeker: 2 wins, 4 Top5, 14 points. A new entry for the month. Whether you think he backed into his win at the Farmers or not, give Sneds credit for making the most of the opportunity.
  8. Robert Rock: 2 wins (1 prestige), 8 points. I have to give Robert credit for a prestige win, given the depth of the field in Abu Dhabi.
  9. Alvaro Quiros: 2 wins (1 prestige), 2 Top5, 12 points. He won the biggest "legit" tournament of December in Dubai.
  10. Louis Oosthuizen: 1 win, 2 Top5, 7 points. I know -- you wonder why a one-time winner makes the RGWR when some 2-timers like Mark Wilson, Webb Simpson, and Johnson Wagner don't. The reason is simple: Last month I predicted that you should watch out for him as he defended at the African Open because he seemed to be on the upswing. Indeed he was and, although it doesn't show up in my stats, he followed up with a 7th at the Volvo World Champions. I like what I'm seeing.
Players to watch:
  • Keep an eye on Robert Rock. Although he didn't post any Top5s between his two wins, his win in Abu Dhabi was huge. It could be the very thing he needed to convince him he can be a more consistent performer.
  • Louis Oosthuizen: I think he could be a force on Tour this year. That swing of his looks as sweet as ever.
  • Tiger Woods: Tiger's showing consistency in his play now. I couldn't help but laugh at the irony -- a few months ago the guy missed the cut at the PGA; last week he got criticized because his worst round of the week was PAR. I'm predicting a win before the Masters.

2 comments:

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