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Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: March 2013

There's only one big mover in the RGWR this month. You probably won't be surprised to find that it's the WGC-Accenture Match Play winner, Matt Kuchar. There are several players who seem to be playing well but just aren't getting anything for it -- no wins or Top5s, that is. And with Rory struggling and Tiger being off just a little, the big names aren't exactly lighting it up!

But with another WGC coming next week, the Palmer Invitational two weeks later, and a little more than a month until the Masters, it's time for the contenders to get serious and start making their moves. I'll be interested to see if the April RGWR is much different from this one, as both Tiger and Rory will drop a win next month. With so many guys stuck at two wins, a victory or two from any of this month's top players could really change the complexion of the rankings.

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 don't count 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, 4 prestige, 3 awards), 4 Top5, 41 points. Rory's still on top but he's losing ground, what with only 4 rounds played so far this year.
  2. Tiger Woods: 4 wins (3 prestige), 5 Top5, 28 points. Tiger's game appears to be in pretty good shape, but he needs to get everything working altogether.
  3. Brandt Snedeker: 2 wins (2 prestige), 6 Top5, 1 award (FedExCup), 23 points. Although he's out with sore ribs right now, Brandt's play early in the month moved him up in the rankings.
  4. Louis Oosthuizen: 2 wins (1 prestige), 7 Top5, 22 points. No change since last month but still playing well.
  5. Matt Kuchar: 2 wins (1 TPC, 1 WGC), 2 Top5, 19 points. Kuch's WGC-Accenture win gave him a serious kick up into the rankings.
  6. Charl Schwartzel: 2 wins (1 other), 6 Top5, 16 points. Although he hasn't added any wins since last month, Charl has added a couple of Top5s.
  7. Lee Westwood: 2 wins (1 other), 6 Top5, 16 points. Lee moves ahead of Sergio on the strength of a newer Top5..
  8. Sergio Garcia: 2 wins (1 other), 6 Top5, 16 points. No change since last month.
  9. Dustin Johnson: 2 wins (1 prestige), 2 Top5, 12 points. DJ lost a couple of Top5s but he still has a recent one.
  10. Darren Fichardt: 2 wins, 0 Top5, 6 points. I know this doesn't look impressive compared to the other guys, but Fichardt is the only other two-win player to win in February. This could be a sign that his game is improving.
Players to watch:
  • Ian Poulter played well in the Accenture with the exception of one day. Unfortunately, that one day had both the semis and the finals! As he starts playing more this year, I look for him to do well.
  • Jason Day has 3 Top10s in only 4 starts this year, including a 3rd at the Accenture. He's looking good with the majors coming up
  • Charles Howell III is also playing well, despite not doing it when I predict it! Still, I look for him to win before the year's out.

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