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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: April 2012

March was a wild month, boys and girls! Many players whom we expected to step up didn't, while the big boys made some dramatic returns to the winner's circle. With the Masters in just a few days, things stand to become very interesting this week.

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. Rory McIlroy: 4 wins (1 major, 1 prestige, 1 other), 10 Top5, 39 points. Rory's trip to the top of the OWGR may have been a short one, but it was certainly well earned. His win at the Honda Classic gives him 4 worldwide wins.
  2. Luke Donald: 4 wins (1 BMW, 1 prestige), 9 Top5, 41 points. Mr. Donald took his #1 back from Rory with his win at Innisbrook. Although Luke has more points than Rory, Rory squeezes him out with one extra Top5.
  3. Lee Westwood: 3 wins, 7 Top5, 21 points. Lee drops back one spot since Luke grabbed another win. He did pick up another top5 last month, however.
  4. Steve Stricker: 3 wins (2 prestige), 1 Top5, 15 points. Stricks has been pretty quiet for the last couple of months.
  5. Hunter Mahan: 2 wins (1 WGC, 1 prestige), 1 Top5, 14 points. It's all or nothing for Hunter Mayhem. Adding the Shell Houston Open to his WGC last month more than makes up for the lost Top5s.
  6. Michael Hoey: 3 wins (1 prestige), 0 Top5s, 11 points. Michael Hoey has quietly been making a name for himself on the European Tour. Although he has 3 wins -- which I find quite impressive -- with no Top5s and fewer points than Mahan and his WGC, I just can't put him any higher.
  7. Justin Rose: 2 wins (1 WGC), 1 Top5, 14 points. Justin returns to the RGWR after a long absence with his own WGC win. As Dick Vitale would say, "It's go big or go home, baby!"
  8. Bill Haas: 2 wins (2 prestige), 4 Top5, 19 points. He didn't really do anything during March, but his February was still pretty darn good.
  9. Phil Mickelson: 2 wins (1 prestige), 3 Top5, 14 points. Despite adding a Top5 last month, Phil still didn't quite catch Bill Haas. Maybe this week...
  10. Tiger Woods: 2 wins (1 prestige, 1 other), 4 Top5, 14 points. After a long, long absence the Big Cat finally makes an appearance in the RGWR. That win at Arnie's Place, along with the Chevron win in December and his Top5s over the last 4 or 5 months bodes well for him to move up soon.
Players to watch:
  • I continue to believe in Sergio Garcia. He could be a sleeper pick going into the Masters this week.
  • Another sleeper this week may be Bubba Watson. With 2 Top5s in his last 2 tournaments, he's peaking at the right time.
  • Despite last week's 11th hour breakdown, don't overlook Louis Oosthuizen this week. Given his play over the last few months, I suspect last week was a blip.

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