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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: May 2012

I slipped up this month as I usually do the RGWR during the first week, not the second. But I'm back on track now, and with the 2012 Masters in the book I expected some shuffling this month. We didn't have as much as I expected but there are a few surprises. Also, the first tournaments of May count in this ranking which is unusual but couldn't be helped. I am a week late, after all.

Here's 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. Rory McIlroy: 4 wins (1 major, 1 prestige, 1 other), 9 Top5, 37 points. Rory and Luke Donald keep splitting time at the top of the OWGR, but currently it's a Northern Irish title. He lost a single Top5 finish this month.
  2. Luke Donald: 4 wins (1 BMW, 1 prestige), 8 Top5, 39 points. Mr. Consistency has been struggling a bit as of late. He too lost a single Top5, meaning (just like last month) Rory beats him out in my rankings by a mere Top5.
  3. Branden Grace: 3 wins, 1 Top5, 11 points. The only three-time winner of 2012 (among the men, anyway), Branden debuts so high in the RGWR for two reasons -- 3 wins in less than 5 months, plus he has a Top5. That shows a bit more consistency than some of the other players ranked below him.
  4. Lee Westwood: 3 wins, 9 Top5, 23 points. Although he hasn't won as consistently as Grace (technically his "official" win is about to drop off the rankings, which will drop him from the RGWR), Lee picked up another 2 top5s this month. That tells me that he's on the upswing. I'd watch out for him at the TPC this week.
  5. Steve Stricker: 3 wins (2 prestige), 0 Top5, 13 points. Stricks has no Top5s now. He needs to get his act in gear if he wants to stay in the RGWR.
  6. Bubba Watson: 2 wins (1 major), 3 Top5, 19 points. Bubba got hisself a green jacket and a new baby. I picked him as a player to watch the very week he won. Bubba done real good. You're welcome.
  7. Hunter Mahan: 2 wins (1 WGC, 1 prestige), 1 Top5, 14 points. No changes for this Golf Boy. He holds his spot on the strength of being the only two-time PGA Tour winner this year.
  8. Michael Hoey: 3 wins (1 prestige), 0 Top5, 11 points. No change in stats for Hoey this month but he does have those three wins.
  9. Louis Oosthuizen: 2 wins, 4 Top5, 14 points. Now it gets a bit dicey. Down here at the bottom it's getting crowded with two-timers over the last 12 months. I considered Keegan Bradley and his major, but he's done relatively little as of late, and Justin Rose has cooled off after his TPC win. King Louis lost a playoff for the Masters (after a very disappointing final round the week before) then won the very next week on the other side of the world. I had him picked as a player to watch last month. I think you should continue watching, so he makes the rankings this time.
  10. Rickie Fowler: 2 wins (1 prestige), 2 Top5, 10 points. Don't forget his Korean Open win last October. This is 2 wins, both won head-to-head with Rory McIlroy. That's gotta get some recognition, even if it's only for this month.
Players to watch:
  • After his win this past week Rickie Fowler talked as if he had finally realized how he was taking himself out of tournaments. If he truly has, "watch" may be an understatement.
  • It may sound strange to call Lee Westwood a sleeper but, as I said, I really like him this week at TPC. If his putter gets even a little warm...
  • I don't know what he's found but Ben Curtis should bottle it and carry it with him at all times. The next few months could be really good for him.

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