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Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: August 2013

Phil shocked everybody with those back-to-back links victories at the Scottish Open and the Open Championship... which vaulted him to the top of the RGWR, even over Tiger. He remains there as we start August and look toward the WGC-Bridgestone this week and the PGA Championship next week. This is Tiger's chance to regain some ground against his nemesis.

Meanwhile, Rory looks for something... ANYTHING... that will help him return to the summit of golf success -- the top of the RGWR, of course! -- once again. August is shaping up to be a very interesting month!

Once again, I present the staggeringly difficult 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. Phil Mickelson: 3 wins (1 major, a prestige), 7 Top5, 32 points. As I said, Phil's amazing links play made him the "no-contest" leader of the RGWR since Muirfield. While he may not be able to take the OWGR #1 any time soon, he can always point to the RGWR as proof of his prowess.
  2. Tiger Woods: 4 wins (1 TPC, 1 WGC, 1 prestige), 4 Top5, 31 points. What a difference a month makes! One win and a Top5 drop off, and suddenly Phil has more points than Tiger!
  3. Graeme McDowell: 4 wins (2 prestige, 1 other), 4 Top5, 18 points. Likewise, Graeme added another prestige win and another Top5 to move himself up a notch in the rankings.
  4. Brandt Snedeker: 3 wins (3 prestige), 4 Top5, 1 award (FedExCup), 23 points. Sneds also starts climbing again, picking up another prestige win at the Canadian Open and perhaps laying to rest rumors that he's too injured to contend next week at the PGA.
  5. Justin Rose: 1 win (1 major), 7 Top5, 24 points. Justin holds in the top 5 of the rankings despite not adding any wins or Top5s. He's still in the "grace period" I allow major winners to handle the new demands of stardom. In case you're curious, the grace period is about 3 months.
  6. Matt Kuchar: 2 wins (1 WGC, 1 prestige), 3 Top5, 18 points. No change from last month, but both of his wins came this year. Note that he's the last of the four multiple PGA Tour winners in the list. (He's behind Graeme's 3 worldwide wins this year as well.) 
  7. Matteo Manassero: 2 wins (1 BMW, 1 prestige), 3 Top5, 19 points. No change since last month, but he moves ahead of Rory because he's won much more recently than Rory..
  8. Rory McIlroy: 4 wins (1 major, 3 prestige, 3 awards), 4 Top5, 36 points. I'm waiting, Rory... but I won't wait forever...
  9. Jonas Blixt: 2 wins (1 prestige), 2 Top5, 12 points. Jonas makes his first-ever appearance in the RGWR with his win at the Greenbriar.
  10. Adam Scott: 1 win (1 major), 2 Top5, 14 points. Adam's "grace period" is over, but all of this year's major winners are still in the RGWR... and Adam really hasn't played that much since the Masters. But I expect to see him post at least some Top5s now.
Players to watch:
  • Hunter Mahan is out playing dad right now. I don't know exactly when he'll get back -- to be honest, I won't be surprised if he skips the PGA and waits for the FedExCup playoffs -- but I expect him to play very well once he picks up the clubs again.
  • Henrik Stenson picked up a 3rd at the Scottish Open and a runner-up at the Open Championship. He's definitely on my radar for the PGA Championship.
  • Ian Poulter put up a blistering final round at the Open. This could be just the shot in the arm he needs to get back in win mode.

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