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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: November 2012

It's halfway through November, and the PGA Tour season is officially over. As I said last week, I held off doing the RGWR until this week so I could wrap up the PGA. Next month I'll finish up the European Tour season, then we won't have a RGWR until February. After all, I don't count most of the off-season events in my rankings.

By waiting until the PGA season finished, I ended up with some clear winners and losers in the rankings this time. Ironically, most of the "big tournament" winners -- besides Rory, that is -- did little else over the last year. Because of this, Top5 finishes figured in heavily this time. There were some big changes!

And here are 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: 5 wins (1 major, 3 prestige, 1 other, 2 awards), 7 Top5, 44 points. It's no surprise that Rory remains on top, is it? And he added 2 awards -- the money titles on both tours. (Well, he locked up the Race to Dubai, even if it's not official yet.)
  2. Tiger Woods: 4 wins (3 prestige, 1 other), 6 Top5, 28 points. Likewise, Tiger is so firmly entrenched in second place that it's going to take some work for anyone to catch him.
  3. Branden Grace: 4 wins (1 prestige), 1 Top5, 16 points. Branden hasn't been as consistent as most of the other players in this month's rankings, but how can you argue with 4 wins in a single year -- especially when it's your rookie year?
  4. Lee Westwood: 3 wins (2 others), 7 Top5, 19 points. Lee moves up this month because he continues to play well, even if he isn't adding more wins yet. But now that he's finished relocating to the US, I expect his play to start improving.
  5. Ian Poulter: 2 wins (1 WGC), 8 Top5, 24 points. Poulter has been quietly posting a very consistent year; he just needed some more wins to break into the RGWR. His win at the last WGC did it! In fact, Poulter has more Top5s than any other player in the rankings, including Rory. That's quite an accomplishment!
  6. Luke Donald: 2 win (1 TPC), 5 Top5, 27 points. Luke's been a little off-form lately, but he's still playing better than most players. I suspect he'll have a better 2013.
  7. Louis Oosthuizen: 2 wins, 6 Top5, 18 points. Louis, like Poulter, has had a deceptively good year. If you saw the little piece GC did on him last week, you realize that he had the lead going into the final round of 6 different tournaments this year! Louis was only a few strokes from beating out Rory for the title of Top Dog. It's only a matter of time...
  8. Peter Hanson: 2 wins (1 prestige), 7 Top5, 22 points. Another player who was largely under the radar all year. Look at all those Top5s!
  9. Jason Dufner: 2 wins (1 prestige), 4 Top5, 16 points. Mr. Cool just keeps on racking up the scores. He added 2 more Top5s in the last month or so, and he's giving us no reason to think he's going to stop anytime soon..
  10. Brandt Snedeker: 2 wins (1 prestige), 3 Top5, 1 award (FedExCup), 15 points. No change in Brandt's stats this month, but he continued to put himself in contention -- including shooting a 60 that was nearly a 59 at the WGC.
Players to watch:
  • Nick Watney finally seems to be out of his slump and playing better. (Two wins will do that for you, I guess.) I'm waiting to see if his consistency picks up..
  • Paul Lawrie seems to be re-energized by his improved play from earlier in the year.
  • Since Nicolas Colsaerts has his PGA Tour card for next year, look for him to make some waves. Some very lo-o-ong waves.

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