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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: October 2012

This is my Ryder Cup edition of the RGWR. Although I don't officially count the Ryder Cup as an event in my rankings, I do pay attention to how the players involved performed. This primarily helps me break ties between players; ironically, Ian Poulter didn't play well enough before the Ryder Cup to make my Top 10 (other than a win last December, he hadn't done much to speak of). Had he done so, his 4-0-0 record would have given him some serious clout this month! The same goes for Dustin Johnson, who went 3-0-0 but only had one win several months back.

However, other players did gain a bump from their performances. Their Ryder Cup records are shown as part of their stat line, like so: RC 3/5. In this case, it would mean the player played 5 matches and won 3.

And here are the rest 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. Rory McIlroy: 6 wins (1 major, 3 prestige, 1 other), 7 Top5, 43 points, RC 3/5. Rory's 3 wins in 4 weeks -- one of those a major -- certainly guaranteed he'd stay on top. He's roughly 3 points ahead of Tiger in the OWGR as well, so he could be here for a while.
  2. Tiger Woods: 4 wins (3 prestige, 1 other), 6 Top5, 28 points, RC .5/4. Tiger added a couple of Top5 finishes during the FedExCup Playoffs. I don't think his pitiful half-point performance at the Ryder Cup was totally his fault; Stricker didn't play well at all, and his team matches were played against Poulter/Rose, Colsaerts/Westwood (nobody could have beaten Colsaerts that day), and Garcia/Donald -- all powerhouses -- with the worst loss being 2&1. (That's actually pretty impressive.) His singles match was halved after it no longer mattered what happened. Sometimes you just come out on the bad end of the draw... and given the scores he shot in the Playoff events where Rory beat him, that was the theme of the month for him.
  3. Sergio Garcia: 3 wins (1 prestige), 5 Top5, 21 points, RC 2/4. I have several players from 3 thru 6 who could go in any order. While Sergio's stats didn't improve this month, he did play well at the Ryder Cup (which was clearly his focus after he won at Greensboro). Toughing out a win against Jim Furyk in singles counts pretty high for him, which is why he's my #3 this month.
  4. Luke Donald: 3 wins (1 BMW, 1 prestige), 4 Top5, 28 points, RC 2/4. Luke's play has been off as of late, as evidenced by him losing 2 Top5s off his stats. However, he came up big in the Ryder Cup, particularly by winning the lead-off singles match against Bubba Watson. He comes up behind Sergio simply because Sergio has been more on form and has won more recently.
  5. Lee Westwood: 3 wins (2 others), 8 Top5, 21 points, RC 2/4. No change in Lee's stats, but he did win his singles match against Matt Kuchar. Again, the match was needed and Kuch had been playing well.
  6. Webb Simpson: 1 win (1 major), 4 Top5, 18 points, RC 2/4. Webb lost another win off the back end of the ranking period, but he did play pretty well at the Ryder Cup and he did win the U.S. Open. I'm also giving him a bit of a pass for taking some time off for his new baby.
  7. Paul Lawrie: 2 wins, 3 Top5, 12 points, RC 1/3. Why does Lawrie place ahead of Sneds? He beat him head's-up at the Ryder Cup... and beat him bad, 5&3.
  8. Brandt Snedeker: 2 wins (1 prestige), 3 Top5, 1 award (FedExCup), 15 points, RC 1/3. Sneds made a big step up by winning the Tour Championship and the FedExCup but, as mentioned, he got beat baaaad at the Ryder Cup. As a Captain's Pick, you gotta do better than that!
  9. Zach Johnson: 2 wins (1 prestige), 2 Top5, 12 points, RC 3/4. These next two players were partners at the Ryder Cup and their stats look identical -- including both of them winning their singles matches -- so they could be 9a and 9b. I gave Zach the nod for 2 reasons:  he won more recently (in July vs June for Duff) and he had the tougher singles opponent (McDowell vs Hanson).
  10. Jason Dufner: 2 wins (1 prestige), 2 Top5, 12 points, RC 3/4. In Jason's favor he was the only Ryder Cup rookie to win in singles, plus he came later in the order when the pressure to win was more intense.
Players to watch:
  • Dustin Johnson had 2 Top5s in August and September, plus he had that 3-0-0 record in the Ryder Cup. After a year where injury curtailed his play, he appears to be playing his way back into form.
  • Likewise, Justin Rose had 3 Top5s in the last 2 months, plus a strong Ryder Cup. That new putting coach Foley sent him to seems to be helping!
  • I suspect the spanking in singles Keegan Bradley got may be just what he needs to push him to the next level. Likewise, the singles win Paul Lawrie got may do the same for him.

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