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Friday, June 1, 2012

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: June 2012

The RGWR gave me a bit of a shock this month. I couldn't believe how much the rankings had been shaken up in a mere 3 weeks. (As you'll recall, I was a week late with May's rankings.) The biggest shock was Lee Westwood's fall completely off the chart! Although he has 5 Top5s in the last 4 months, he no longer has a win on either the PGA or European Tours, so he is no longer eligible for the RGWR. (Proof positive that just because you can fool the OWGR doesn't mean you can fool me!) And since I try to take current form into account, don't be surprised if this month's rankings indicate some surprise contenders at the next couple of majors.

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. Luke Donald: 4 wins (1 BMW, 1 prestige), 6 Top5, 35 points. This was a tricky call. I gave Luke the top spot for three reasons: Rory appears to be struggling a bit while Luke's play has picked up noticeably, Luke has won more this year (2 vs. 1); and Luke successfully defended a title for his first time... and that title was a huge one, the BMW PGA. In essence, Luke's last 3 months have been better than Rory's in my opinion.
  2. Rory McIlroy: 4 wins (1 major, 1 prestige, 1 other), 9 Top5, 37 points. See #1 for the explanation.
  3. Branden Grace: 3 wins, 2 Top5, 13 points. Branden remains the only three-time winner of 2012 (among the men, anyway). He has 3 wins in less than 5 months, he added another Top5 in May, and he's currently #4 in the Race to Dubai. Not bad for a rookie, eh? That's worth some love in the RGWR.
  4. Jason Dufner: 2 wins (1 prestige), 2 Top5s, 12 points. Two wins and 1 Top5 in 3 starts, with a marriage in-between? Are you kidding me?
  5. Rickie Fowler: 2 wins (1 prestige), 4 Top5, 14 points. Don't forget his Korean Open win last October. This is 2 wins, both won head-to-head with Rory McIlroy. Rickie added 2 more Top5s in May, making him one of the hotter players.
  6. Matt Kuchar: 2 wins (1 TPC, 1 other), 1 Top5, 11 points. The other win is the World Cup with Gary Woodland late last year. The TPC was arguably the biggest event in May and it leapt him to #5 in the OWGR. In a month dominated by Fowler, Dufner, and Donald he makes my Top10 as well.
  7. Steve Stricker: 3 wins (2 prestige), 0 Top5, 13 points. Beyond the Top6, most players are just treading water. Stricks is in neutral, living on past glories at this point... but he does have 3 wins.
  8. Hunter Mahan: 2 wins (1 WGC, 1 prestige), 1 Top5, 14 points. No changes this month.
  9. Louis Oosthuizen: 2 wins, 4 Top5, 14 points. No changes this month.
  10. Bubba Watson: 1 win (1 major), 3 Top5, 16 points. I'm giving Bubba a pass for the newly adopted baby. 
Players to watch:
  • I'm a big believer in Ben Curtis right now. The only reason he didn't make the RGWR is that he only has 1 win and 2 Top5s. But he's gotten them in the last 2 months...!
  • I know everybody is talking about Zach Johnson because he's had a T2 and a win in the last 2 weeks. But Zach's scores haven't been that bad this year, they just haven't been spectacular. In his last 16 rounds, only one has been over 72.
  • I've got a feeling about Jason Day. He's right on the verge...

2 comments:

  1. What about Justin Rose? He'd certainly be classed as one to watch at the moment, I'd say.

    Won the WGC Cadillac back in March, togther with the BMW Champiosnhip at the back end of last season for two PGA Tour wins in the last 12 months, one of them a World Golf Championship. Add to that a second at the BMW PGA,a top 5 at the Honda Classic and a top 10 finish at the Masters adn you've got a player who looks like beginning to fulfil his promise.

    A decent value bet for the US Open?

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  2. Definitely, especially since some of the guys I thought might be a threat (like Ben Curtis) didn't make it through qualifying.

    Justin didn't make my Top10 primarily because we've had several "hot" players since Justin's win, and my rankings put a lot of weight on recent play. And he didn't make my "Players to Watch" because he's been playing pretty well for a prolonged period. I'd actually consider him more of a favorite at the U.S. Open, given how solidly he's been playing this year.

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