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Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Ruthless Golf World Rankings: February 2013

This month's RGWR includes an extra tournament because I used all of February 2012 results plus last week's tournament, which was technically a February 2013 event. I generally don't include tournaments from the same month in two separate years in my RGWR posts, but it only affected one player -- Phil Mickelson. Phil had a lot of Top5s anyway, and Top5s have figured prominently into this month's list because of limited play by the top players.

In addition, after Rory and Tiger I have a logjam of players with 2 wins. That's another reason this month's RGWR is so dependent on Top5s. In fact, right now Top5s seem to be a better indication of who's hot than wins do.

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), 6 Top5, 45 points. Of course, Rory is solidly in this spot for now.
  2. Tiger Woods: 4 wins (3 prestige), 5 Top5, 28 points. Tiger has also settled in for a while, especially after adding a win at the Farmers.
  3. Louis Oosthuizen: 2 wins (1 prestige), 7 Top5, 22 points. I predicted 2013 would be a better year for King Louis. He already has a win this year and continues to post Top5s.
  4. Sergio Garcia: 2 wins (1 other), 6 Top5, 16 points. Sergio won in December and has had Top5s regularly over the last 12 months.
  5. Lee Westwood: 2 wins (1 other), 8 Top5, 20 points. Lee seems to have settled down after moving his family to America and is posting Top5s regularly now. I suspect he'll begin winning again soon.
  6. Dustin Johnson: 2 wins (1 prestige), 4 Top5, 16 points. DJ won in Hawaii to start the year.
  7. Charl Schwartzel: 2 wins (1 other), 4 Top5, 12 points. Charl had two double-digit victories in December.
  8. Phil Mickelson: 2 wins (1 prestige), 6 Top5, 20 points. Phil has been playing well and, of course, added the win at Phoenix last week.
  9. Brandt Snedeker: 1 win (1 prestige), 6 Top5, 1 award (FedExCup), 18 points. The Tour's Top5 machine is leading the FedExCup again after 3 Top3s in the last month.
  10. Ian Poulter: 1 win (1 WGC), 6 Top5, 19 points. Poults hasn't played much since winning the WGC-China in November, but after the show he put on in 2012 I'm willing to cut him a little slack.
Players to watch:
  • Justin Rose has 7 Top5s during the last year, and quite a few of them have been in the last three or four months. He's poised to start winning soon.
  • Chris Wood finally broke through in January with a win on the European Tour. I won't be surprised if he begins playing more consistently and picks up another win.
  • And James Hahn is finally starting to show his abilities. With two final-round 62s in four starts, I wouldn't bet against him this year.

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